Top News

Windsor Forks' Bent Ridge Winery expands less than a year after opening

Steven Dodge, left and Glenn Dodge, co-owners of the Bent Ridge winery and Bent Nail Brewery in Windsor Forks, sit inside their newly built solarium, which will allow visitors to stay warm and enjoy the view.
Steven Dodge, left and Glenn Dodge, co-owners of the Bent Ridge winery and Bent Nail Brewery in Windsor Forks, sit inside their newly built solarium, which will allow visitors to stay warm and enjoy the view. - Colin Chisholm

WINDSOR FORKS, N.S. — Brothers Steven and Glenn Dodge, now nearly seven months into their Bent Ridge and Bent Nail wine and brewery venture, say it’s been an interesting start, with some hiccups along the way but also some exciting things on the horizon.

Despite the frigid temperatures outside, with a bitter, slicing wind, inside the cosy building with a heated floor and wood-fire oven, winter’s grip quickly melts away.

Dealing with the weather has been one of the biggest challenges for the two Dodges.

“We’re held hostage by the weather,” Steven Dodge said with a laugh.

The summer was unusually cruel, with two bouts of frost, which impacted agricultural crops across the province, and ate into the winery’s supply of grapes.

“The previous year we had a fantastic crop, so we made enough red wine to get us through this year and probably next year,” Glenn said. “Last year, I made 2,500 gallons out of our vineyard. This year I had enough to make 50 gallons, that shows how big of an impact the frost had.”

Their growing days, which average 170, was reduced to 110.

Read More:

But, thanks to the support of locals and visitors alike, they say they’ve been able to weather the storm.

“The locals from Windsor, Falmouth and the cottagers were incredibly supportive over the summer. We were very busy, probably as busy as we could be,” Glenn Dodge said. “It took a while for us to get ramped up in terms of staffing, but the reception has been fantastic.”

One of the surprises, Glenn says, is how much the food-side of the business has taken off. Originally intended to be a small portion of the business, the wood-fire oven has been cooking up a large portion of the business's profits.

Glenn Dodge says one of the biggest surprises they’ve had since opening Bent Ridge and Bent Nail wine and brewery almost seven months ago, has been the popularity of the food, including wood-fire oven cooked pizza.
Glenn Dodge says one of the biggest surprises they’ve had since opening Bent Ridge and Bent Nail wine and brewery almost seven months ago, has been the popularity of the food, including wood-fire oven cooked pizza.

“We’re a bit limited in terms of what we can do because we have one way of cooking, which is this oven,” he said.

“But there are still a lot of things we can do with that, maybe some pasta dishes, some salads, which we had a lot of demand for,” he added.

“And people keep asking for desserts, so we’ll have to come up with something for that.”

Ironically, Glenn said some customers have come to think of Bent Ridge as more of a restaurant that also has their own wines, rather than a winery that also has some food options.

Another boost for diners is that Bent Ridge doesn’t charge a corkage fee, so a bottle of wine costs the same amount whether you take it home or drink it in the restaurant.

Staying warm outside

New to Bent Ridge is an added-on solarium structure, built over their patio space, which lets customers stay warm while continuing to enjoy the scenery.

“In the summer we’ll be able to take the windows out and extend our patio out,” Glenn said. “We’ll have seating for about 100 people once everything is done.”

Like the rest of the building, the solarium was largely built by the two brothers, using mostly local materials.

Starting this year, they’re also planning to offer their wines through the NSLC at a limited capacity, likely in specialty stores. All four of their main wine products will be available, although not as a regular listing.

The weather outside might be frightful, but inside Bent Ridge winery it’s a cosy, Mediterranean escape.
The weather outside might be frightful, but inside Bent Ridge winery it’s a cosy, Mediterranean escape.

“I don’t imagine we will ever be at the point where we can be in the NSLC at all times,” Glenn said. “We would need to send half of our product to those stores just to get listed.”

On the craft beer side, Bent Nail has brought in a brewing consultant, Sam Voth, who has helped to expand their selection.

One of the new brews on tap is ‘The Forks’ Farmer beer, which has a “full-body taste” with only 2.8 per cent alcohol. Steven Dodge said this has been a favourite among designated drivers who still want to have a drink.

Steven said overall what has been most rewarding for him has been the feedback from the public, both in person and online.

“People tell us they love the ambience, the views, the wine, and a lot of our customers are from the local area, which we really appreciate,” Steven said. “We have a great staff and they really help make what this is here a relaxing and chill place.”

But, with the ski season full steam ahead, more and more of their clientele are customers from the Halifax area heading to or from Ski Martock.

“Martock is the reason we’re able to be open seven days a week, year-round,” Steven said.

Steven said they’ve also received a tremendous amount of support from their competitors in the industry, saying it remains a very collegial business in Nova Scotia.

“We’ve leaned on some of the local wineries for information and they’ve been more than welcome, on the brewery side, even more so,” he said. “Avondale Sky, Sainte-Famille, Schoolhouse, they’ve given us so much support.”

Glenn agreed, saying that as the local market continues to expand and gain credibility, it boosts the industry as a whole.

Recent Stories