Behind every winery in Prince Edward County, you will often find an inspiring story about someone following their passion for wine, the soil, or the potential of this region. Whether they are the owner, the winemaker, or the family supporting the dream behind the scenes, the County is full of ambitious dreamers and entrepreneurs — Mike Traynor and his family are no exception.
From a hobby to a full-time winery owner and winemaker, Mike Traynor pursued his passion for creating unique wines for every occasion, including celebrating with his family. Of course, the name says it all — Traynor Family Vineyard. A project that always had his family top of mind is now a beautiful reality and reflected in the vineyard and the stories behind many of his wines.
As the Traynor family continues to grow (did someone say puppy?) Rebecca Traynor took a moment to reflect on how far they have come.
When did the family move to Prince Edward County?
RT: Mike had worked in the County since 2000 — he was the first employee at Huff Estates. I didn’t meet Mike until 2012, but he already had his vineyard in Prince Edward County. At that point it was still a hobby, he was still working a full-time job, but he would drive up on weekends and tend to the vineyard. A few years later, in 2014, we bought a cottage on Consecon Lake where we spent our weekends. We still lived in Newmarket during the week. In 2015, Mike took a leap of faith and made the winery his only job. Later on in 2015 I moved to Prince Edward County full-time too.
What was the biggest adjustment for the family when moving to the County?
RT: In 2015, coming from a bigger city, Prince Edward County still felt like being in the middle of nowhere to me, which was a scary feeling. The winters were quiet, and we left behind family and friends — it felt like starting over in a lot of ways. Mike didn’t have as much of a culture shock since he had already spent so long coming back and forth and was comfortable here. At the time our son, Quintin, was a pre-teen, so it was an adjustment for him too.
Did Mike always know he wanted to own and operate a vineyard for a business? Was it a surprise to anyone?
RT: Mike’s parents had a hobby farm when he was growing up, and he said he always had an interest in farming, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to those who were close to him. I have always been a city girl, so I think it was definitely a shock to my friends and family when I married a farmer and moved out here.
What are some of your favourite family memories at the winery?
RT: It’s too hard to pick just one. Mike remembers walking the vineyard with Quintin, and even when he was younger, he could name the grape variety after just sampling the grape in his mouth. I’ve loved watching Audrey and Ezra get excited about even the littlest things, like changes happening to the vines, tractor rides and running through the fields. The simple things are what bring us the most joy in our lives right now.
What has been the most challenging part of owning and operating a winery with a growing family?
RT: Balancing time and attention, especially during harvest. During certain times of the year, there isn’t as much time at home with the family, and the vineyard comes first, but it’s just how the business is. We take the quiet winters for granted and try and get away when we can. We love to travel as a family.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning and operating a winey with a growing family?
RT: Having our children watch something being built from passion is important. Work doesn’t feel like work when you are doing something that you love. You never know, but maybe the children will want to be involved in the business one day or take it to the next level. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities and what might happen.
What do the children love most about visiting or helping at the winery?
RT: The younger children know it as “Daddy’s work” so they look at it differently than others would, but they really do notice all the team’s hard work every time they visit — there is always something happening there, whether it’s bottling, winemaking, picking grapes, tractor work or new buildings going up.
What are some of your favourite places to visit in Prince Edward County with the family?
RT: There are so many family-friendly places in Prince Edward County! We like North Docks and Midtown in Wellington; they are both great family spots. We also enjoy taking the family to Adega in Consecon for charcuterie. We love introducing new food and flavours to the children — they love it too and have already shown such interest in food and help out at home. Quintin loves cooking and works with Lance and Ashley at Bermuda in Bloomfield, and also has a huge collection of recipe books he is always flipping through — it is clear that is a passion.
Several of Traynor’s wines are named after the children — do you think one day they will make a wine and name it after you and Mike?
RT: That would be very cool, and I guess we will wait and see what happens.