It may be a while yet before you can purchase a bottle of Chateau de Lombardy, but plans are afoot to move a the Darou property’s stone cottage, piece by piece, to Lombardy, and turn it into a winery.
Warren Hollis is applying to have the stone building and timber frame barn removed from 2845 Rideau Ferry Rd., and moved to Lombardy. The removal will take about three weeks and will be carried out under the auspices of an Algonquin College program protocol, where each stone is numbered as it is removed.
While the cottage would serve as the winery, the barn would serve as a banquet facility.
While council was keen to be seen to support a local business, Mayor John Fenik had his concerns.
“My heart tells me it should stay where it is,” said Fenik, before adding that he does not want the two structures on the farm to continue to deteriorate.
Hollis agreed that “it would be easier just to build a winery,” but that the antique nature of the structures was important to his business plan. As he will have to compete against $9 bottles of wine at the LCBO, “you can still sell a $20 bottle of wine if there is a story behind it.”
He saw this in action for himself when he visited a winery located in a relocated church down east. Many of the tourists walked around, sample glass of wine in hand, admiring the old church, soaking in the ambiance, the story and the old architecture, savouring the experience.
“They bought three bottles of wine as they left (on average), which is great,” said Hollis.
“It is a win, win situation,” said Coun. Jim Boldt. “It is a way to take a build of that stature… that is succumbing to the elements, and give it a new life. I think it is a match made in Heaven.”
Coun. Jim Graff agreed, and understood Hollis’ concerns about upkeep of the existing property.
“We were all concerned that it was going to be a money pit,” said Graff.
Hollis said that the best comparison to be made to his plan was another eastern Ontario winery located in Vankleek Hill, which is now in its third year of business. That winery sold 10,000 bottles in its first year and attracted 50,000 visitors in its first 10 months.
He conceded that, because of the necessity of washing fruits for processing in to wine on his property, “most likely I will have to have a second well dug. It’s the cleaning that takes you.”
The proposal laws referred to staff for a report.