When Marty and Marie Bohnet opened the Cypress Hills Winery almost a decade and a half ago, it was an innovative agribusiness which exceeded anyone’s turned into a must-stop tourist destination. At a time when the Cypress Hills Destination Area was rolling, the Winery was a welcome added attraction.
Fast forward to the beginning of December 2020, the Bohnets sold the lucrative, but very labour intensive and time consuming business to Kathryn Reesor and her family. Reesor becomes the new winemaker as well.
Plans is for the Winery to move to In the meantime, Bohnet
“We decided less than a year ago right around Christmas time that it was time to put the business up for sale. We had scaled back. We had been open to the public for 10 years,” explains Marie. “We scaled back, just doing manufacturing and selling through the liquor stores for the last three years. Last two years and last year we decided to put the winery up to market. We certainly had a lot of interest in it. But then Covid came and those plans fell through. Reesors approached us I guess late August and we got our deal all done.”
Bohnet notes the Winery was a nice compliment to the other services and attractions to the area. But she says the wanted to scale back so three years ago, they closed down the tourism and cafe part.
“There were many really, really long days; it has been a really good business for us and I am sure it does well. I am happy to see our efforts go forward. Certainly we had (a lot of) posts on Facebook and there people some excited about it reopening so I am so happy for the people can go sit on their patio.
“Over the 13 years, when we were actually selling wine we topped the Canadian Wine Awards four times, four double gold for across Canada, we are pretty proud of that,” explains Bohnet. “It was a lot of little things; looking across all those years, we employed over 122 different people. Remember, this was our answer to (2003 Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE crisis). Community was very much ranch-based and still is. When cattle prices went down by 40 per cent (it was important) for us was to start the winery and we certainly provided a lot of jobs for people in the area.
“My husband and I didn’t have children, so we didn’t have to put any kids through university but we inadvertently put a lot of them through university. We used to put through between 15 and 18 thousand guests through there every summer and if you would’ve told me that when Marty first came up with the idea, I just thought he had rocks in his head when we mortgaged everything to the nuts and maybe lose it. It definitely exceeded our expectations People were ready for something like this in our area and we wanted to build something that we wanted to go to.”
While Reesor and two family members have taken over, the Bohnets ensured they went out on top.
At the 2020 All Canadian Wine Championship, they earned Double Gold with Rhubarb; Black Currant and Honey – Gold; Cherry – Silver; Saskatoon Berry – Silver; Choke Cherry – Bronze and Traditional Mead – Bronze.
While the major lifestyle change has already happened and it will be a little different for the Bohnets, Marie says they are looking forward to slowing down.
“I am most excited about having a little extra spare time. Being new to life has been pretty busy and there hasn’t been enough of me to go around lately,” explains Bohnet. “The next step comes very naturally to us. The biggest step was being open to the public with all of the staff and scale it back three years ago to strictly manufacturing because we only need staff on bottling days. That was the big scale back, running 90 miles an hour kinda of thing to running 40 miles an hour. I am going to stick around on a consulting basis and give Kathy a hand when she needs it. She’s pretty bright, she’s easy to train, she won’t need me for much longer. She has great potential as a winemaker. She has a great pallet and I just love that. I will be doing a bit of consulting over the next year and we have a couple of things up our sleeves. But a lot of it has to to do with going off. A lot of fishing a lot of golf, certainly a lot of back pack trips.
“This is our baby… and they have great plans and I’m so happy that it’s going to be the new location. I will be very happy to go sit on their patio.”