The owner and operator is Dave Godfrey. Born in 1938 in Ste. Vital, the home of Louis Riel, and raised in Winnipeg, Scarborough and Cooksville, Dave has transformed a few hay fields and a private home into a fifteen acre vineyard, a busy winery and a wine-tasting patio open year-round.
His mother’s family, the Brownells, have always farmed. Descended from Italian Protestants living in France, the Brownells came to Rhode Island in the 1600s as indentured servants and worked as farmers. After the US revolution they settled in Nova Scotia and kept farming. Eventually their descendents moved all across North America:
the Godfrey’s homesteaded in Saskatchewan at the turn of the century and Dave’s parents were the first to enter the professional class, Richmond as a lawyer and Marguerite as a teacher. Education was very important to them and they were thrilled when he started at Trinity College at the University of Toronto … and less thrilled when he was soon kicked out for challenging authority.
He transferred to Iowa and then Stanford, where he met and soon married Ellen Swartz, the daughter of a Chicago Industrialist. Ellen and Dave then spent several years teaching English and music at Adisadl school near Kumasi, Ghana. By the time he was twenty-four he was back at Trinity, this time as a Professor. Dave spent nine years in and around Toronto.
He bought a 100 acre farm and learned how to farm grains and raise cattle. He also played trumpet with Oketeke, a psycho-afro and highlife quartet with friends from Ghana. In his spare time Dave along with Ellen and others – like Dennis Lee - founded a series of book publishing companies such as the House of Anansi, New Press, Press Procepic, and first published authors like Michael Ondaatje and the Vietnam War classic Draft Dodgers’ Guide to Immigrating to Canada. Dave also wrote a number of books himself such as the 1971 Governor-General award winning The New Ancestors.
In 1978, Dave and Ellen – and now their children – moved to Victoria where Dave taught at the University. He and Ellen also worked on the first free local internet offering, FreeNet and later founded, Softwords Inc., a computer software company that developed Coastnet, a ground-breaking internet service provider.
As he approached his sixties, Dave was driven to drink: he had always loved wine and decided to start growing grapes and making wine seriously. He spent five years experimenting, visiting other vineyards, and looking for farmland. In 1998, he bought a hay farm that turned out to have, around the 1880s, been homesteaded by a Brownell, one of his grandmother’s cousins. This seemed propitious in some way.
Dave’s goal is to have a well-managed farm that can produce five to six thousand cases of wines a year, without stressing the land, but instead enhancing the land. He is experimenting with other crops such as olives, as well as incorporating livestock into production. The farm is envisioned as a place with five acres of ponds and wetlands, an exemplary feeder for the Glenora Creek. Lately he has become interested in the notion of carbon neutrality, and is working to make his wine carbon positive.
You can read more about Dave in a December 2007 feature article in the BC Business magazine, here.