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Metro couple go from farmers to vintners

Thursday, September 8 2011

This post relates to Magnetic Hill Winery and B&B

Times & Transcript
September 8, 2011
James Foster, Times & transcript staff

Magnetic Hill Winery continues pattern of growth

Like all farmers, Janet and Jeff Everett were always battling what they call “the four toos.” “Too wet, too dry, too hot and too cold,” Jeff says. ‘And too hard, too.” The Everetts always wanted to be farmers, but by the late 1990s, with their berry farm only performing above expectations in one single year due to factors out of their control such as the weather, and with their four children who formed the bulk of their manpower leaving the family nest, they knew there had to be a better way. The Everetts decided to use the produce of their popular berry farm – Utopia U-Pick – and develop a winery. The original plan had been to host the winery on their existing farm, but then they learned that the vacant 1867 Lutes estate beside the Magnetic Hill theme park was available. To the Everetts, the combination of the house, the spectacular view of Moncton and its location next to the area’s premier tourist attraction made it an irresistible part of their plans to build a winery that would in turn promote local foods, products and attractions.

This would be the home of Magnetic Hill Winery and the start of a lot more hard work. The winery opened in 2005 and has been a great success with sales rising annually. The Everetts have since received the 2008 Greater Moncton Excellence Award for Top Emerging Business and the 2008 Best of Show Wines at the NB Savour Food and Wine Show. Two of their wines have won gold and silver medals at an Atlantic wines competition, and now the couple are starting an on-site vineyard as well as a seIection of grape wines while continuing the tradition of winemaking with different local fruits and flowers, just as their ancestors would have done a century ago.

After five years, the Magnetic Hill Winery & Bed and Breakfast is still a lot of work, Janet says.
Every single thing is hands-on, she says. “All the way through the entire process.”

Every ingredient is either grown on their farm or is accessed from within a half-hour of their farm. From 5,000 litres per year, production has quadrupled. Each bottle is three or four months in the making and their fruit wines contain a quarter-pound of fruit. And in keeping with the Everetts’ tenet of using local products in their wines and their mandate to promote the local area and all it has to offer, their wines’ names reflect local tourist attractions. Bay of Fundy Blue gets its name from the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world and is made from wild blueberries. Illusions is named after the famous Magnetic Hill optical illusion. The Chocolate River Dessert wines depict the fruit flowing in on the tidal bore of the Petitcodiac River and is so named because of their excellent pairing with chocolate, with dark chocolate Chewter cups available to pour the wine in.

Janet says the couple are “probably” never going back to their Utopia U-Pick days, for which they
became widely known in Metro Moncton and beyond. Jeff says there’s no “probably” about it. “She says probably. I say no we’re not. Well, I’m not, anyway.” The Everetts were the presenting guests at yesterday’s annual general meeting of the Probus Club of Greater Moncton which promotes fellowship and networking for its members, mostly retired and semi-retired businessmen. At the meeting, Greg Cohoon was elected president for the coming year with Gary Rouse the immediate past president, Bob Cameron first vice-president and Richard Curry second vice-president.

The entire Magnetic Hill Winery and Bed & Breakfast operation is located on Front Mountain Road, near Mountain Road and near the Magnetic Hill attraction site, offering a majestic vista of the city, in a farm house as old as Canada itself, the restoration of which is nearing completion as the Everetts have tried to keep the house’s old-time original charm intact as much as possible while accommodating the needs of a modern winery and bed and breakfast. Their fall hours are from I to 5 p.m. until Christmas Eve.

“Drop in any time, Janet says. As its name grows in renown, so does the business and what it offers guests, including patio picnics, tastings, parties, corporate meetings and weddings – including a tent big enough to host 175 guests. Or if you prefer, a cozy gazebo just for you and a special someone. So far this year they’ve accommodated eight weddings. They are booked for nine nuptials for 2012 already. And usually, Janet says, after someone visits for the first time, they are back in short order with friends in tow.

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