Ocala orchard was original founded in 1912 by the Smith Family. George Smith was a cattler who purchased land to raise his prized Holstein-Friesians for meat and dairy. In the late 1970's, his son Lloyd Smith started expanding the small apple orchard behind the barn in order to shift the family business toward fruit production. After the addition of many fruit varieties, Irwin, Lloyd's son, also started planting grape vines in '91, which paved the way for the Ocala Winery.
Ocala Winery Groups Inc. opened to the public as a licensed Ontario winery in the summer of 1995. Due to a shorter growing season and colder winters at our location, the vineyard is made up of mostly white grape varieties and a few hardy varieties of red. We frequently experiment with new varieties of cool climate/winter hardy vines being developed in Quebec and the Northern United States.
High Point Railway Station — In the early 1900s a railway line ran from the town of Whitby, located on Lake Ontario 12 miles to the south, north over the top of the Oak Ridge Moraine, through the Smith’s farm, and continued both downward and northward through Port Perry, on Lake Scugog, to its terminus in Lindsay, Ontario. There were many small stations along this rail line. One such station was located on the Smith farm and was called High Point Station. This station sat at the highest elevation on the line. Around the time or World War II the line was closed. The rails were pulled and it is believed that these rails were reprocessed as steel was in great demand for war efforts. No pictures of this station exist, however, the path of the railway line is still visible today.
George Smith — George Smith, first generation farm owner, was born in 1882 on a farm just half a mile from the current OCALA Orchards. At the age of 33 he bought the OCALA farm (it was not called OCALA at the time) which consisted of 100 acres, a board and a timber dairy barn and an apple orchard. Grandfather George raised pure-bred Holstein cattle and grew apples until his death in 1939.
Lloyd & Ruby Smith — Second generation OCALA farm owner. Lloyd was born October 19, 1919 in the family house at OCALA. Lloyd has spent his life on this farm tending the cattle herd and producing apples. Like his father (George Smith) before him, he raised and exported pure-bred Holstein cattle around the world for breeding stock. In 1978 a decision was made to disperse the herd. Over the years, Lloyd has transplanted the orchard, changing it from large standard size trees to the semi-dwarf and dwarf trees that bear plumper and juicier fruit grown today.
Irwin & Alissa Smith — Third Smith generation and previous farm and winery owners. In the late 1980s Irwin developed an interest in wine and winemaking. This hobby grew. He planted grape vines next to the orchard site in 1992. In 1995, he acquired a licence from the Ontario Liquor Board and opened OCALA Orchards Farm Winery Ltd.
Today, Ocala Winery Groups Inc is more dedicated than ever before to continue the tradition of the Smiths in growing high quality fruits and making delicious wines to be enjoyed by all. With over 30 varieties of wines as well as non alcoholic juices, there's something for everyone. Come by for a tasting, tour or simply to be taken aback by the beauty of this land.