by Betty Bardswich
MINDEMOYA—In vino veritas—“in wine there is truth”–is an ancient Latin phrase attributed to philosopher Pliny the Elder who believed, with others, that one cannot lie when enjoying the pleasures of that beverage. Islanders can soon find out if that is indeed true as a new store for brewing your own wine and beer has opened in the Mindemoya Business Centre at the four corners in Mindemoya.
Owned and operated by Curtis Holmberg, the store features a sign, done by Beacon Images, with the apt name of Grapes and Grains. The interior is bright and welcoming and besides the wine and beer making area, the store has a lounge section with comfortable chairs and a very interesting map of the Great Lakes on the wall with the names and dates of every ship that has ever gone down in those waters. This map was framed by Mr. Curtis’ grandfather Ferdie Frank, an Islander, and there is also a coat rack made from Manitoulin cedar done by him. Mr. Holmberg is showing his support of Island entrepreneurs by selling items in the lounge area. The first items featured will be all natural soaps handmade by Hannah Pearson with such names as ‘Manitoulin fisherman,’ ‘a breath of fresh air,’ and ‘Manitoulin gardener.’ There will also be display cases on the walls featuring the iconic Haweater coins which will be for sale and date back to 1969. These coins are the most traded coins in Canada and were used for many years during the tourist season as legal tender on Manitoulin.
Mr. Holmberg and his family spent much time on the Island as he was growing up. “I always thought of Mindemoya as my home,” Mr. Holmberg said, “and it was always my dream to live on the Island and open a business here. I fell in love with the hobby about eight years ago. We do have a long history of using fermentation, a process that was used to prevent scurvy with helpings of sauerkraut.” Indeed, fermentation has been used for thousands of years by different cultures and is evident in our daily lives. For example, Mr. Curtis has used fermentation to save seeds for his garden and renewed interest has peaked in general with results of the Human Microbiome Project, a study of bacteria in our bodies. Results show that fermented foods and beverages contain bacteria that promote health.
As far as the wine and beer making process, the enthusiasm shown by Mr. Holmberg and the many varieties that can be made, allows a great experience in choosing the beverage one wants and the satisfaction of a fine finished product.
Mr. Holmberg has partnered up with Wine Expert for his store, part of a 100 percent Canadian company that is acknowledged as the largest in the world in personal winemaking. Winexpert is a division of this company and there are 450 varieties of wine with something for everyone. “This is a company that I love,” Mr. Holmberg told The Expositor, “and I will be exclusive with their brand. This is a company and also a supplier that offered the best, not just in quality, but also as a fit for my store.”
Dave Oliver of North Bay is Wine Expert’s account manager for the new store. “Global Vintners is the personal winemaking arm of Andrew Peller,” he told The Expositor. “The division that Curt is mainly dealing with is Winexpert which is acknowledged as the world leader in personal winemaking, both home winemaking and on premise. Winexpert’s success is attributed to its commitment to sourcing high quality grape juice and concentrates, state of the art processing facilities in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia and stringent quality control procedures and guarantee of quality.”
Several of the options available at Grapes and Grains include light, off-dry and rich whites, rose, and light, medium and fruity and bold reds. Specialty items include dessert wines, sherries, and flavoured wines with delicious names such as exotic fruits white zinfandel, raspberry peach sangria, black raspberry merlot and green apple Riesling, a perfect summertime drink. There is even a choice of calorie-reduced flavoured wine at 80 calories a serving.
As far as beer goes, Mr. Holmberg will be carrying mainly Baron’s beer and Brewhouse as they offer higher end beer kits. “It steps a bit further than a canned malt extract,” Mr. Holmberg explained. “They are bladders of concentrated wort and come in many flavours and styles and Brewhouse offers some seasonal selections as well. I will mainly be selling the kits retail out the door and not so much fermenting on premises.”
Mr. Holmberg is married with three children. His wife Sarah is from Orillia and has a personal support worker and dietary background. “She works at Mum’s and loves it,” her husband said,” and it is nice to have us close to each other.”
Grapes and Grains is now open for business.