Growing Oxley Estate Winery | Ontario Culinary
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two women walking under the vine tunnel at Oxley Estate Winery

Growing Oxley Estate Winery

When Ann and Murray Wilson purchased what is now the Oxley Bluff Farm in Harrow in 2010, it was growing vegetables – primarily peppers and tomatoes. However, the Wilsons were dreaming of something a little different: high-quality grapes grown to make high-quality wine.

How it All Started

Ann and Murray planted five acres of vines immediately and began making plans to remodel the 1920s barn on the property. They had a vision of people sipping wine and enjoying time in the beautiful hamlet of Oxley. In an almost unheard-of amount of time, the Farm produced a partial crop of certain grapes in the second summer and Murray was on his way to crafting wine! Usually, it
takes three summers to get a grape crop, but 2010 and 2011 were exceptionally hot and jump started some of the grapes.

Starting with Riesling and a red wine made with the Regent grape, a German varietal, the Wilsons opened Oxley Estate Winery in July, 2012 and invited guests to visit on weekends, then quickly opened daily. Ann and Murray hired a chef to operate a restaurant on the new patio the first summer and it took off almost immediately. With a simple yet delicious menu that featured many local ingredients, guests could enjoy time together at Oxley over a glass of wine and a great meal.

Today at Oxley

The Restaurant

Today, Oxley Estate Winery has three large patios, two gardens for guests to explore, and a 60 foot “Vinehouse”, a beautiful open-air structure covered in vines that acts as a natural air conditioner. Ann and Murray have passed the torch to their son, Steve, who
is now an owner and the President. Now a third generation of the family is also deeply involved – Steve’s sons, Andrew and Matthew.

Andy, with a degree from Brock University in viticulture and oenology, is the winemaker and Matt, a graduate of St. Clair College, takes charge of the gardens and grounds.

The restaurant continues to showcase the best ingredients Essex County has to offer with its abundant fresh produce and fresh fish from Lake Erie. Guests have the pleasure of enjoying perch and pickerel the day they were caught, vegetables grown in the field and in greenhouses just minutes from the Farm, and even Ontario-sourced duck wings!

Oxley hosts special events throughout the year, too, highlighting their wine and food.

The Wine

As for the wine – there’s plenty to choose from. Andy crafts red, white, and rosé wines from over twenty grape varietals.

Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc all grow well in Southern Ontario and have become the backbone of Oxley’s wine operation. Pinot Gris done in the French style (think a fuller flavour than Pinot Grigio with a peachy colouring due to the skins being left on early in the winemaking process) and the Wowza White blend have quickly become visitor favs among the many other varieties offered.

With Andy on board, it’s certain there will be more exciting things to come from the Oxley crew. In 2022, both Oxley Estate Winery and its vineyards were certified through the Wine Country Ontario and Grapes Growers of Ontario Sustainable Wine Programs.


Ready to get sipping? Plan your escape to Essex and a visit to Oxley A.S.A.P. Cheers to that!