The Navan winery is owned by Denis and Lyse Perrault and their two daughters
Anne and Dominique – and while older daughter Lynn and son Pierre don’t have a
stake in the winery, they often can be found helping out especially at harvest
Perrault is owned and operated by two-thirds of the Perrault family (l to r) Anne,
Denis, Lyse and Dominique. File photo
It all started 23 years ago when Denis and Lyse
visited Le Cep d’Argent winery in the Eastern Townships as part of a tour organized
by the Eastern Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association to investigate possible
options for crop diversification.
“They had a few vines and a little shop
and I remember thinking, ‘This guy’s going to starve,’ ” recalls Denis Perrault
whose operated a dairy farm south of Navan for the past 50 years.
went back to visit Le Cep d’Argent winery 10 years later, the owners were hardly
starving. On the contrary, they were producing 50,000 bottles of wine and more
than 40,000 people had paid $10 each to take a tour of the estate.
a couple of months the Perraults and seven other farmers in Eastern Ontario formed
the Eastern Ontario Grape Growers Association. One of the prerequisites of membership
was planting a minimum half acre of grapes.
The Perraults ended up planting
1,000 vines of winter hardy grapes they purchased from Le Cep d’Argent on a one-acre
parcel of land.
Three years later they produced their first 200 bottles
of wine that Denis readily admits “wasn’t very good”. But his friend and vintner
Paul Harwood made 20 bottles of white wine using only grapes from the St. Pepin
“He absolutely loved it. He was so excited he would call me up and
say, ‘This wine is amazing. You could sell this wine for $20 a bottle,’ ” says
During the next two years the family slowly increased production
and experimented with different blends. In 2004 they decided to take the next
step towards becoming a bona fide winery and converted one of the buildings on
the farm into a wine-making facility. They also joined the Bytown Vintners Association
where Harwood introduced them to Marcel Sarrazin who became their resident winemaker
and who Denis credits with the winery’s amazing success.
That same fall they
produced 5,000 bottles of wine. A Cuvée Special red; the Marilys rosé which is
a variation of Lyse Perrault’s given name Marie Lyse; and the Zanibel white, which
was named by combining Anne’s given name Anne Isabel.
In the fall of 2005
they added a light bodied red to the roster which they named after Dominique’s
newborn daughter Rosalie. Earlier that same year they planted another 5,000 vines
on an additional five acres of land which will eventually increase the production
capacity of the winery to 11,000 bottles a year.
In preparation for the
increased production they applied for their manufacturing and retail licenses
in 2006 and opened up a small store where people can come to sample and purchase
The store, which is actually located in the Perraults’ basement,
was modeled after similar shops on small family-owned wineries that Lyse had seen
during a trip to Provence.
The quaint shop is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 6 to Dec. 31 and is usually manned
by resident sommelier Julie Ricard.
Julie is a graduate of the Algonquin
College sommelier course and she is a wealth of information when trying to marry
any of Domaine Perrault's 10 different wines with various main courses.
back over the past 12 years, Denis can hardly believe how far the little winery
“When we started this I hardly knew a thing about wines. Now I’m
getting a little better. But to be honest we wouldn’t have gotten to where we
are without a lot of help along the way, not only from our friends and family
but from our customers as well who’ve been spreading the word about our wines,”
To get to Domaine Perrault take Trim Road south through the
Village of Navan. When you get to the end turn right on Perrault Road and look
for the signs. (Map).
an alternate route from Orléans, take Tenth Line Road south to Navan Road and
turn left. Turn right on Milton Road and drive until you see a sign for Perrault
Road on your left. Turn left and you’ll see the entrance to the winery about a
half kilometre down the road.
To find out more about the Domaine Perrault
winery visit www.domaineperrault.com.