Growing More Than Grapes In The Vineyard

Growing More Than Grapes In The Vineyard

Judy Kingston’s life changed in 1993, the morning her car slid on black ice on a Toronto highway and slammed into a fire truck.

She woke from a coma with temporary amnesia, unable to remember the details of her life. Her head injury was so severe she had to relearn how to walk, climb stairs and cross the street.

A tech attorney, Judy’s first case after the accident teetered on disaster—it was clear that her brain just wasn’t the same. Rather than put any clients at risk, she walked away from her practice.

Then began her darkest years. For years she felt empty, as if hollowed out, and it was only worsening.

In 2005, still wallowing and without a purpose, she was driving through British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and saw a 12-acre apple and cherry orchard for sale in Naramata.

Without hesitation, she told her husband, “I could make wine. It would be like cooking, only with grapes. I can’t hurt anyone with wine-making mistakes. Wine is the right thing to do.”

They made an offer for the property that day, and by the time they touched down back in Toronto, they were farm owners. Scared, excited and without a business plan, Judy forged into the wine business. She named the winery Serendipity.

Judy studied viniculture and transformed the orchard into a vineyard, planting Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.

Judy’s first releases—a 2007 Pinot Noir, a 2008 Serenata (a Bordeaux-style blend), a 2009 Viognier and a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc—were made in collaboration with consultant
Jason Parkes.

The Serenata won a double gold at the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition, and the 2007 Pinot Noir took gold at the 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

Now, she has Craig McKenzie managing the vineyards, and she’s just hired former Township 7 winemaker Bradley Cooper to oversee her wines.

“Running a winery is hard work,” says Judy, now 61. “But it’s worth it. After all, this vineyard changed my life.”

Published on January 14, 2015
Topics: Wine TrendsWinemakersWInemaking