EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was submitted by Gwen Zwicker.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – In 2007, Steve and Ida Watts made the move from British Columbia to New Brunswick and bought a house in Cap-Pelé. At the time, they were looking to buy a business. When that didn’t pan out, they decided they’d like to set up a wine store; from there came the idea of establishing a wine-making store.
After spending time scouting potential locations for their new store, Steve and Ida decided on Sackville. They liked the location and, since bottling wines at a store was not
allowed in Nova Scotia, they realized Sackville had a considerable catchment area. On top of that, there simply wasn’t a wine-making establishment in Sackville.
Steve and Ida continued their commute from Cap-Pelé for the next seven years and finally moved to Sackville in 2014. By that time, Steve had become ill and living in Sackville was much easier for them to operate the business and for Steve to get the care he needed.
Steve and Ida’s son, also Steve, moved to Sackville from B.C. in July 2014. He began to help out with the business in September 2014 while his father was ill. After Steve Sr.’s passing, the younger Steve stayed to help Ida and continues to run the business, which he operates today. Although Ida no longer lives in Sackville, she still helps out with the bookkeeping.
Splendid Grapes sells and makes a wide variety of wines. Wine kits range from table quality to a very high standard. High quality materials and standards of cleanliness are used in the processing. They feature kits from Winexpert and Vineco and have access to other suppliers.
Steve introduced various beer kits to the repertoire in 2015. The beer is also made on the premises. Adding specialized equipment to the business has made it possible for the customer to request virtually any kind of beer they would like – and even customize it.
In addition to the wine and beer kits, Splendid Grapes offers equipment for customers to make their own wine and beer at home, essences for flavouring alcohol and cleaning products for the equipment.
Splendid Grapes draws customers from across Nova Scotia, the greater Moncton area and locally.
They tell us they come here from the larger centres because we offer a more personalized and friendly service,” says Steve. “That is one of the reasons Sackville is a good location for us.”
While the business has been stable for many years, Steve sees challenges as each year passes.
“Summer is a challenging time for us,” he says, “not because the students are gone but because many local people spend their time at their cottages.”
One of the biggest challenges for Splendid Grapes has been finding staff.
They have tried to take advantage of government-sponsored hiring programs which means they would only hire local people but the take-up has been slow.
Steve says, “When we advertised, we got applications from outside the area (like Amherst and so on) and could not find anyone suitable.”
While they have had some good staff over the years, it has been an ongoing challenge. For now, Steve and his partner Jennifer McGraw operate the business.
What does the future hold for Splendid Grapes?
Steve says, “We would like to diversify, offer some different products not related to our wine and beer making. We have been looking into what might be a good fit for Sackville and what customers might like. We will be redefining our space over the next while to allow for different products but haven’t made a decision on what those might be as yet.”
Splendid Grapes is located at 45B Main St. in Sackville. Their hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m–6:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–Noon and closed on Sundays and holidays.
You can contact Steve or Jennifer at (506) 939-3300. Check them out on Facebook (Splendid Grapes) or visit their website at www.splendidgrapes.com.