By Laura Parkinson
Fergus resident Tanya Graham can proudly add a new title to her resume: business owner.
The mother of three and former educational assistant opened a wine-making store, The Grape House, in downtown Fergus two months ago.
“It’s been great,” Graham said, at the store’s official grand opening on Jan. 26. “All of the downtown has welcomed me.”
The Grape House offers a selection of wine kits, processed and bottled on-site, as well as wine kits for home. There’s a small retail space at front offering decanters, wine charms and more.
“I have a huge variety of wines,” she said. “There hasn’t been one I can’t find yet.”
Graham got exposed to wine-making at a young age – her parents, Marg and Bruce Shaw of Fergus, have been making wine at home for years.
The Shaws were introduced to wine-making by their Italian neighbours when they lived in Guelph. They originally used grapes but have been using concentrate for the last 20 years.
Graham decided to start her own business after taking time off from a career in education to stay at home with the kids. Wine-making was a perfect fit, having been around it growing up.
“This seemed right,” Graham said. “I love it. It’s not a chore to come to work.”
There’s a demand for wine kits, she said, in part due to the economy and high prices of wine. Advancements made in the quality of wine kits create a product that is very comparable, she said.
Graham speaks highly of her two London-based suppliers, Vineco and ABC Cork, adding Vineco has been in business 40 years and has award-winning wines.
Batches yield between 29-30 bottles of wine and take four to six weeks to process. Customers can use their own bottles or purchase them from the store.
The first step is choosing and purchasing a product. After the necessary waiting period, the customer returns to the store to bottle their wine.
Graham has had repeat customers already, with limited advertising. When deciding to set up shop, Graham only looked to Fergus.
“I love Fergus,” she said. “Fergus is a great fit for the company.”