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Chateau Chantal on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Marie-Chantal Dalese, President and CEO of Chateau Chantal, writes about the generational impact of the Chateau on the Old Mission Peninsula, including working with other local farmers to buy and process grapes. -jb)

Farming is often a generational family career, but sometimes farming is a passion that finds individuals later in life. For Chateau Chantal, our history doesn’t begin with the planting of our first grapes, but with a history of service to others. Following years of working in the church, our founders decided to follow a dream of building a European-style winery chateau to host guests and create lifelong memories for them.

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In 1993, my parents completed a French-style three-room B&B, winery, and vineyard estates. Located on a 75-acre estate on Old Mission Peninsula, it is a unique destination that combines vineyards and winery and a bed & breakfast. Chateau Chantal was incorporated in 1991 and has been proud of the incredible impact it has had on Old Mission Peninsula.

What exactly is the impact? Of course, it includes the unique agritourism that comes with being located on the peninsula and the care that comes with it. But it also includes a long list of individuals that Chateau Chantal works with daily to create products and experiences for guests. For example, along with growing our own, our winery purchases grapes from other local farmers, which generates business and income for all parties.

What many people don’t realize is that our businesses do not solely exist for ourselves – several of our farming partners are able to retain their land in agriculture because of the market we create. All of this then provides valuable and enriching experiences for guests to experience agriculture and enjoy our lands.

Chateau Chantal Johnson Farms | Jane Boursaw Photo
Chateau Chantal Johnson Farms | Jane Boursaw Photo

We’re grateful for all of the farms on Old Mission Peninsula and for the role we play in the community. This January, we will continue our tradition of getting local farmers and their families together to taste wines that were recently crushed for the following season. It is one way to celebrate our network and the impact we have on each other and our community.

(Editor’s Note: As seen in the photo above, some of my brothers’ grapes from Johnson Farms go to Chateau Chantal. Also, my daughter, Marissa, worked for Chateau Chantal right after she graduated from high school. Here’s a picture of her with the Chantal crew: Kyle Brownley, Marie-Chantal Dalese and Bob Begin. -jb)

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Chateau Chantal Crew, from left, Kyle Brownley, Marie-Chantal Dalese, Marissa Boursaw and Bob Begin | Jane Boursaw Photo

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. Marie
    You made some very valid points. Let me add a few as well. All farmers are engaged in commercial activity. So the ptp folks who claim that wineries should not be commercial are being quite duplicitous. Farmers sell their products on farm stands and in farm markets and directly to restaurants. You can’t get much more commercial than that. So the township and ptp really only want to attack the wineries commercial activities. We can just look at the ridiculous limitation on t-shirts and hats to name one restriction that makes absolutely no sense. As for restaurants, again what is so awful about allowing the wineries to sell hot food with a glass of wine. I could go on but you get the point.
    In addition, for those of us growing grapes for the wineries this provides a great avenue for good use of our land. This is especially trues as the tart cherry industry is on the downward slope.
    The economics of a vineyard for a small a farmer are daunting. It costs at least $30,000 or more per acre to put in a vineyard. Then it costs $7-8,000 an acre per year to manage and harvest the grapes.
    Prices for selling our grapes in the best year run about $1800-$2000 a ton. In a very good year you can expect 5-5.5 tons per acre. So in the best of times you might clear $3,000. In the past several years I have had 4 years with no grapes or less than 4 tons. So with the initial entry cost and a few low yield years this is a tough business. Multiply this by larger acreage and you can see that this is not a venture for the faint of heart,
    Wineries face many challenges and the past couple of years with covid have been detrimental to their overall business. Did the township ever ask the wineries how they are doing before heading down the road with new impediments. The answer is no. The statement that the current wineries are not subject to the new rules is very and purposely misleading by those who state this. if any existing winery goes in for a change to their SUP they could be subject to the new rules. Would for example a winery on less than the new acreage be required to shut down because they did not have the new required acreage. I wish I could say no, but with the current people in charge and the retaliation mode they seem to be in, I would bet that would result in another court battle.
    So where does that leave us. The township has delayed voting on this new ordinance. Maybe they will scrap it as unnecessary. Let’s hope so.


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