Award-winning North 42 winery set to open restaurant in eye-catching setting - from The Windsor Star
BY MARY CATON
Published on: October 4, 2017, The Windsor Star
ESSEX — They have bottled and sold award-winning wines in less time than it’s taken North 42 Degrees Estate Winery to complete construction of a new restaurant and retail space.
Like so many of their products, it will be worth the wait.
“We’re getting closer,” said winemaker Jan Schulte-Bisping of an eye-catching two-storey structure that reminds one of an upscale ski chalet with a soaring stone fireplace that reaches the vaulted Canadian pine ceiling.
The bar in the main-floor tasting area is an unexpected blend of weathered barnwood at the base and a granite countertop.
There’s an outdoor patio on the main floor and another off the second-floor dining room with panoramic views of the vineyards, the lavender field of sister company Serenity Lavender Farm and nearby Lake Erie.
The entire space is flooded with natural light. To the west, there’s an intriguing pie-shaped alcove off the second floor with unobstructed views of the entire estate.
Many of the structure’s elements have been pulled from the travel experiences of owners Martin Gorski and his wife, Suzanne Dajczak.
“We wanted to bring the outside in,” Dajczak said. “We always wanted something that had elements of nature to it, that we’d seen in our travels.”
Construction started in July 2016, and Gorski and Dajczak had originally hoped to open this past April. Struggles to secure enough tradesmen now have them planning on a November launch.
“It has been a long ramp up,” said Steve Meehan, who joined the winery as Bistro 42’s general manager and executive chef in July. “We’re almost there now so that’s a good thing.”
Meehan, the former executive chef for St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, describes his latest venture as “an upscale bistro-style restaurant that will tie in a lot of fusion aspects from different ethnic backgrounds.”
Many of Meehan’s freshest ingredients will be plucked from a two-acre kitchen garden that lies just across County Road 50 in Colchester.
“Everything we do is going to be made from scratch,” Meehan said. “Any sauce or vinaigrette will be made in-house. I’d rather make it. Our pastries will be in-house.”
He’s just finished preparing 500 litres of tomato sauce and 100 bottles of peach lavender jam.
No wood-fired pizzas here.
“I love wood-fired pizza but we don’t want to be the same as everybody else,” Meehan said.
No weddings either.
“For us, we want to go on a different path,” Schulte-Bisping said. “We want to make sure we stand out as a winery and not as a wedding facility. Great wine, great food and people enjoying our lavender products.”
Schulte-Bisping is a youthful-looking 36-year-old with 20 years of industry experience behind him. He’s worked at wineries in California, South Africa, Germany and, since 2012, in Canada.
“I am a Riesling fanatic,” he said. “When you’re German, you’re born to be a Riesling-crazy person, and the Great Lakes region can make some of the best Rieslings outside of Europe because of the cold nights and the warm days.”
He was stunned by the phenomenal harvest of 2016 that has drawn international praise from several established sources including New York wine critic John Gilman.
Gilman rated the 2016 Reserve Riesling a 92+ and the 2016 Gewürztraminer a 91+.
“A dry Riesling barely ever hits a 90,” Schulte-Bisping said.
InterVin International Wine Awards and Wine Enthusiast Magazine also recognized several North 42 products.
Since joining North 42 last year, Schulte-Bisping has expanded the winery’s portfolio to 14 varieties from six.
As part of Canada’s 150th celebrations, a Cabernet Franc featuring a hockey-playing beaver on the label was produced. Typical of the long road Ontario wineries face getting their products into the LCBO, the Canada 150 vintage won’t hit those shelves until February 2018.
Several North 42 products, including a 2016 Pino Noir, a 2013 Riesling and a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, are available at certain LCBO stores.