DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Ocala Winery, Vineyard and Event Venue’s owner/operator Stacey Burns sees the business and the property as Port Perry’s “hidden gem.”
“We have karaoke every other weekend, bands every other weekend. [We’re] always trying to create events to bring the community together,” she said. “A lot of people walk in saying ‘we didn’t know we had a winery. We didn’t know there was a vineyard in Durham [Region].’ It used to be a dairy farm in 1912, turned into a winery in 1995, and people are still telling me that it is a hidden gem.”
The local owner/operator described the kinds of wines made at the business.
“We specialize in dessert wines. Your fruit dessert wines like peach, raspberry, blueberry and pear. Those are the best we have. We have our red dries, [and] our whites. We also specialize in our apple wines, from the apples we have in the orchard.”
The business is also a wedding venue and hosts dances as well.
“Santa visits us in the winter time. So, we have families come bring their kids and paint with the elves and visit Santa Claus and get incredible gifts to bring home,” Ms. Burns added.
Ms. Burns said what she enjoys most about working in this business is interacting with people.
“We have people that pop in and expect to be here for an hour, and they end up being here for four [hours]. That’s what’s exciting.”
And the business looks to treat all of their customers “like family.”
“We are very homey, we’re like family,” she said. “Everybody that comes here is like family.”
She likens the business to the community atmosphere of the Port Perry area.
“Everybody knows everybody, it’s like a small town,” she explained. “I started donating to Feed the Need, where they picked up tons of apples [in] huge containers. I’ve donated them to the church, I’ve donated them to some schools for their breakfast clubs, just so kids have something in the mornings if they don’t get anything at home. So, I’ve been trying to put us in the middle of the community, where we’re helping people.”
Ms. Burns has always had an interest in being part of couples’ special days and the winery opportunity seemed like a match made in heaven for her.
“I’ve done weddings since I was 19. I think I’m in love with love,” she stated. “Wine is easy.”
When Ms. Burns first signed on to run this business, her goal was to keep this “paradise” operating.
“I want to see kids running through and laughing. We have jumping castles all the time. We do different events, and it’s those small moments of bringing joy into peoples’ lives [that matter]. I have people bringing their parents, and I’ll sit with them outside for like a half hour and we learn each others’ stories and our backgrounds. You don’t realize all the connections you do have,” she said.
Ocala Winery is located at 971 High Point Road in Port Perry.