Caldwell First Nation harvests first crop of wine grapes

(Photo of a woman harvesting wine grapes courtesy of the Caldwell First Nation)

Caldwell First Nation is now in the winery business.

The winery was identified in the Nation’s Economic Development Plan after it discovered that one of the properties it purchased contained almost two-acres of grapes.

It carried out its first harvest this fall after a feasibility study that identified Caldwell as the first-ever Indigenous winery in Ontario and one of the few across Canada.

Economic Development Officer Kyra Cole and Culinary Advisory Chef Billy Alexander teamed up with renowned wine experts Peter Gamble and Ann Sperling at Cooper’s Hawk Vineyard on a plan to plant a bigger vineyard.

Under the plan, the winery will be licensed, and development will start on a wine production facility.

This year’s harvest will produce two rare but trendy varieties, the naturally-fermented and sparkling pet-net, and orange wine.

Despite its name, the orange wine does not contain citrus fruit. White wine grapes are processed with their skins on.

The Nation will also produce a Riesling under its Three Fires brand.

Caldwell’s wine will be sold exclusively at Three Fires: An Indigenous Tourism Experience, the Caldwell-owned restaurant operated by Alexander.

Three Fires will open in the early summer of 2021.