Fruits of their labour

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The Korpan family first got into winemaking simply for the love of it.

And less than a year later, they brought home the hardware at the national level.

Early Acres Estate Winery, located just outside of Chatham, won a gold and bronze in the recent All Canadian Wine Championships.

The Canadian Wine Trail organized the competition, which had more than 200 wineries submitting multiple entries apiece.

"It was a shock," said winemaker Mike Korpan about hearing the news. "It was quite an honour ... You don't know how to take it."

Both are white wines, with 'Roadside View' winning the gold and 'Just Chillin'' claiming the bronze. Korpan said they're very clear and crisp, adding he's proud of how they turned out.

"We gave it a shot and threw it in," he said. "It's nice to see that somebody recognizes your wine and agrees with something you did."

The winery also makes red and fruit wines, with more varieties to come in the future.

Helping out with the business are his wife Sue, daughter Kristen and son Bryce.

Owning vines that are now 10 years old, Korpan said he always had an interest in winemaking and travelled with Sue to different vineyards.

"We decided now's the time - let's give it a try," he said.

They eventually converted their old house, built in 1949, into a shop. Korpan said Early Acres might also expand at some point.

"I see this is going to be a focus," he said. "We have the whole family involved."

Korpan, a third-generation farmer, enjoys growing his other crops, such as corn, wheat and soybeans. However, he believes he can witness more of the end result through winemaking.

Noticing the positive reaction from customers first-hand is another big reason.

"You can really see the labour of your love," he said.

Local restaurant Z's Bistro is also carrying the wines, Korpan added.

Early Acres will host a 'Country in the Vines' event on July 28 from 2-6 p.m., featuring chef Dimitar and country band The Chasers. Tickets are $15 and guests are asked to bring lawn chairs.

The business is located at 9494 Pioneer Line and open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

For more information, call 519-354-9070 or visit




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