Located in the heart of Muskoka Lakes, Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery operate a thriving business, growing premium Cranberries, making award winning wine, and engaging visitors in authentic experiences. What started as a family farm is now a year-round international tourist destination, and successful export operation.
Operating a business in Muskoka was an easy decision for the Johnston’s. The highly recognizable and upscale Muskoka brand lends itself to their premium positioning. There is also the added benefit of work/life balance, being located in cottage country. With excellent access to Canada’s largest urban market, and continually improving technology and infrastructure, it’s possible to work where you play, in Muskoka. Convenient and direct highways deliver vacationer to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, but also allows the winery’s distribution and export business to flourish.
Key to the Marsh and Winery’s success has been the local government’s collaborative approach to growing business. From planning, to zoning, to promotion, the municipal government has helped clear obstacles in a proactive way, allowing the business to grow and innovate in its offerings over the years. Moving from a commodity producing farm, to a processing plant, then wine production and finally a multi-faceted experiential tourism operator would not have been possible in a more restrictive environment.
Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is now open year round, and offers their Bog to Bottle Discovery tour, a Canada Tourism “Signature Canadian Experience” every day. Seasonal offerings include a patio with wine and cheese in the summer, the famous cranberry harvest and “wade in the berries” in the fall, and the new winter Ice Skating Trail, complete with skate rentals and sharpening. The next ambitious step is to offer an immersive Blueberry experience during peak season in July and August.
Asked what advice they would give to a business looking to start up in Muskoka, the Johnston’s are quick to say: get involved with the local business community. There is a strong and supportive business network in Muskoka, which is eager to assist one another. The Chamber of Commerce offers excellent knowledge, and the opportunity to connect with other highly successful business owners.
Stop by any time to visit Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery, and see just how they’ve managed to thrive, just like the native Cranberry, in Muskoka.