Only a few years later, it was clear that basement shop had
become too small. Expansions took place in earnest throughout
2010 to 2017, as Langlois and her growing team built a bigger wine
boutique and added a private barrel room and tasting bar. “We
went from zero to 100,000 cases in a very short time,” she said.
They even attracted some royal fans; Queen Elizabeth II vis-ited
the winery on her most recent royal visit to Canada, tasting
the winery’s popular Dunes blends.
The team grew too, as Langlois added staff to help her with
everything from the tasting room to deliveries. “It was, I would like
to call it, a very linear style of management,” she said. “You were
responsible for an area and we worked with you on how to achieve
your goals. If you have a better way of doing it, then go ahead. Be
creative and think outside the box.”
Proud Wine Growers Canada members, the Sandbanks team
says the membership is important because it is the unified voice
that represents Canadian wineries federally. “We are a young
industry that is highly regulated, and this organization ensures
that the government is aware of our industry and creates policy
that helps us continue to grow and thrive,” said Del Rollo, vice
president of government affairs, Arterra Wines Canada.
In 2008, one year after Prince Edward County received its
Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) designation, the Sandbanks team
began selling its wines through the Liquor Control Board of
Ontario (LCBO). They now sell 16 different wines through the
LCBO and have more than 30 wines in total. Sandbanks is now the
fifth-largest VQA winemaker in Ontario.
“Our expertise always lies in making good-value product and
doing the best with what the harvest gives us,” Langlois said. “We
have so much more flexibility that way.”
Today, the winery includes a tasting room, wine boutique, art
gallery and outdoor picnic area, in addition to private tasting areas.
In a typical year, the season is packed with events, too: art shows,
painting parties, vineyard tours and food and wine pairings.
Corporate social responsibility has always been a key part of
the winery’s business and the team has worked with many local
charities throughout the years. Each year at Thanksgiving, the
team auctions off all their old wine barrels. “People know these
funds are going to the local community whether it’s the library,
food banks or the hospital,” Langlois said. “I am hoping we can
Thanks to COVID-19, 2020 has been anything but normal, and
it’s hard to predict what the future will be, Langlois says.
Sandbanks will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021, and
while the global pandemic has put a pause on major party plans for
now, Langlois and the team say there will definitely be something
special to mark the occasion, maybe the release of a new wine.
“Sandbanks has always been a good party place,” she said. “I’m
sure we’ll find a memorable way to mark the occasion.”
She would also love to one day see Sandbanks wines sold
across Canada, and she dreams of seeing a small inn or restaurant
on the estate as well.
Yet Langlois isn’t saying if she’ll be involved in the winery down
the road. “All of our team members have stayed on since the sale
and they’re all excited to work with Arterra. It’s a bigger group with
better resources. I’ve just basically been there to mentor people
through the change,” she said. “I do stop by, but it’s nice to have a
bit of time off.”
For now, she’s content to simply enjoy what she created: a
Canadian winery where everyone can have fun and find something
they enjoy. There may no longer be a playpen at the end of the vine-yard,
but there’s always a place for friends and family.
“Interviews are hard because I always feel like I’m bragging,”
Langlois said. “But the energy behind Sandbanks has always been
one of great happiness, easygoing acceptance and a love of all kinds
of things and people.
“We are really unpretentious. Just come as you are – we have a
wine for you.”
W I N E RY P R O F I L E
FALL 2020 § POURED CANADA § 7