For Terry Yungblut, making grape juice is a tradition he remembers fondly. “I remember we used to make it on the stove over there with the steamer and my mother,” he says. “And we do the same thing. We steam it. The flavour out of it is unbelievable. Once you smell it, you can’t forget it. The juice just tastes great.”
Terry and his wife, Bev, have been selling homemade grape juice called The Juice of Kings since 2008. The name has significance for their family. “The Juice of Kings came from the fact that Terry’s dad was a Grape King in 1968 and Terry was a Grape King in 1984,” explains Bev. “So I thought to keep the tradition and the ‘King’ thing in the family, we’ll call it the Juice of Kings. People like the name. They see it and it catches their attention.” Terry is a third generation farmer at Greenview Farms in Fonthill.
Greenview Farms is a mixed operation. They have dairy cattle, grapes and cash crop. “And we produce quite a bit of hay too for the horse market. We deal with those people and we send some hay to Florida. We’ve got different eggs in the basket. There’s never a dull moment in the farm,” Terry says.
He was a child when his father took over the farm after his grandfather died and says he always knew he wanted to be part of it.
“When I was 18 I bought into partnership and I’ve been here ever since. My mother is still at the original farm and my dad just passed away two years ago. This farm was his life.” Terry says he enjoyed working alongside his father and believes one of the most positive things about farming is a family working together.
“That’s a very important part of the farming world; the prestige of farming, I guess. We know what it’s like to work. Everybody takes their turn. The tradition enters into it quite a bit.” Bev says although “the kids don’t like to work all the time” she believes “it helps to build good character and work ethics.”
And although Terry believes in the prestige of farming, he has concerns about the next generation of farmers. “To get anyone to work on a farm is kind of hard now,” he says.
“The hours are long and nobody seems to wants to do it. The younger generations aren’t going into the farming as in the previous days, and I don’t know what’s going to turn that over...the countryside is degrading pretty fast. We hope it’s going to be here for generations to come. I hope I eat my words.”
Bev believes the farming industry is not as booming as it once was because many consumers aren’t connected to the source of their food. “I don’t think people realize where food comes from. A lot of people don’t realize the work that’s involved. It’s just easy to go to the grocery store and pick something up, but the food isn’t always fresh. It’s been shipped in from places like China...a lot of people just don‘t have a clue.”
Terry and Bev have been married five years, and it is a second marriage for both of them after they each lost a spouse. Bev has an outside job, but she loves helping out on the farm; especially working with the grapes. “I like being in the country. It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding when you see the grapes come off when you’ve tied them all spring. We spend hours in the grapery and then you see a nice crop of grapes,” she says. Many of the grapes in the field are from the first generation of farmers. “Some of those grapes we have are original; prior to 1920, and they are still producing,” says Terry. Bev says Juice of Kings is a big hit with customers because of the mixture of quality, taste and nostalgia. “When they see the Concord grape juice, you wouldn’t believe how many people say ‘my grandmother used to make this and nobody makes it anymore’. It’s like a memory comes back to them and they have to buy it just to taste it again. They remember it.
Terry says it’s the flavour many love. “It’s hot pressed versus cold pressed juice,” he explains. “So it’s got the flavour in it. It’s concentrated and the juice just tastes better that way.”
Bev says they decided to bottle their own juice because there isn’t a place in Canada that bottles or processes grape juice.
“The juice plant closed down in St. Catharines three or four years ago and so we decided that we would try bottling some of our own juice and selling it. It just seemed like a waste that none of the grapes were being used for juice anymore. It’s all going to the States; there’s no place in Canada that bottles and processes it anymore, so we do it ourselves.”
Bev feels it is important to support the local economy, so almost all of her operation relies on businesses in the region.
“I like to buy locally because if I want people to buy my stuff, I should be buying local. When we started with the juice I tried to buy everything locally that went with it. Local people make my labels. I even had boxes made in Allanburg. I thought, if I want people to support us growing things local then I want to support the local people too, so that’s what we did. We had to buy our bottles from elsewhere, but obviously it’s because there’s no bottle plants around here. Everything else we bought locally to try and support the local.”
She sells Juice of Kings at farmer’s markets and wishes more people would consider purchasing their weekly groceries from the local sources available there.
“To keep the communities going you have to support your local businesses. There’d be nothing left if we didn‘t. We’re losing so many businesses now. I think a lot of people just don’t realize what they have at the farmer’s market and what you can get locally,” she says. “If you know you can buy fresh, why wouldn’t you?”
For more information about Juice of Kings, or to place an order, call 905-892-3326.