Lambton Shores Magazine Features Shale Ridge Estate Winery & Cidery Owners
Every business has a story and the team at Shale Ridge Estate Winery & Cidery had the chance to share ours with the Grand Bend and Lambton Shores living magazine, October 2023 edition.
In this featured story, Garren & Alicia Hardman, owners of Shale Ridge Estate Winery & Cidery have been highlighted for the unique bond that has been created growing a winery and cidery in Thedford, located in Lambton Shores.
Background of Shale Ridge Estate Winery & Cidery
If it wasn't for visiting a house party when both the owners were in college, Garren and Alicia may not have had the chance to connect that would have led to opening Shale Ridge Estate Winery & Cidery.
At first glance, Garren remembers thinking how Alicia seemed to light up any room she walked into with her smile.
From the first date, Garren impressed Alicia with his patience and kindness by watching her for 2 hours at her soccer practice. Even though this wasn't a typical first date, Alicia thought that is was a sweet gesture for Garren to do this.
Then with a trip to a small winery, the idea had sparked the interest of Alicia to do something similar on their own property in Thedford (where Shale Ridge is currently located).
Meet the Owners
Both having grew up in nearby areas, the owners have always been locals of the community and having a interest in wanting to stay within the same area they call home today.
After attending Fanshawe College for 2 years, Alicia Hardman graduated with a Recreation and Leisure Diploma. This is when she started to begin working at a nursing home doing activities almost immediately while working in this rewarding career for the next 7 years.
Alicia is no stranger to singing, dancing, and acting as she enjoyed her time traveling to many nursing homes and retirement homes in the area.
Alicia also grew up playing sports on teams for soccer, volleyball, badminton, and track and field. With the passion of winning, this led her to become the captain and MVP during many of the leagues she played in during her elementary and high school years.
Today, Alicia enjoys playing pickleball while Garren has a great influence on Alicia's enjoyment of sports.
After graduating high school, Garren wanted to get in the workforce as soon as he could. With great persistence, securing a position with the Pipefitter Union in Sarnia became possible at a young age.
Over the years, Garren has continued to show his creative talents welding unique pieces that are used in places just like the Winery & Cidery. One of the most renowned creations Garren created was the swing tables that still attract many people across Ontario to visit Shale Ridge for this unique experience.
Starting a Winery & Cidery in Thedford
Having grown up on a farm with parents who worked in Agriculture, Alicia had a solid background in farming and was willing to put in the hard work and dedication to learning the cider and wine industry.
But when they had first told their parents about their plan, Alicia's parents thought it was a terrible idea. To be fair, they were concerned as neither Alicia or Garren have an educational background in the wine industry.
Recognizing that building a business can be very difficult, the married couple were determined to persevere across any challenges that come their way.
With continuous research and development, these owners are pushed far beyond the boundaries of just operating a farm as they realized the importance of marketing and advertising.
Now three years later, Shale Ridge Estate Winery & Cidery has grown to have a full indoor facility to accept indoor and outdoor seating for small group and large group reservations for wine tastings and cider tastings.
Local Recognition Supporting the Community
Living in a small town like Thedford means everyone knows each other and is supportive of others through good and bad. With the peace and quiet in the country, it's allows the owners to reflect on what's important in life.
Alicia couldn't feel more blessed to have this feeling of rejoice everyday.
With a mindset of giving back, Garren and Alicia have enjoyed supporting many local charities, fundraisers, and not for profits.
In 2023, the Hardmans have donated to the Parkinson's Society Southwestern Ontario, child and youth mental health, Dash-for-Dad prostate cancer, the Reminisce Farmerette event, Matthew Decicco Memorial Golf Tournament, Thedford Optimists, LCDS, Pathways Health Centre for Children, Forest Extreme Ringette, St. Joseph's Hospice Golf Tournament, The Rotary Club of Grand Bend, Mircle Max Minions, South Huron Hospital Foundation, and the Women's Interval Home.
Tips for the Next Generation
When thinking of the youth of today, Alicia advises the next generation to believe in themselves and their visions for the future, and "Go with your gut to do what makes you happy."
Being a young married couple growing a business comes with its challenges but there's nothing you can't overcome when you believe in yourself.
As the Hardmans are excited to welcome a new baby to the family in February 2024, they look to embrace the benefits of working hard, building good relationships, and not giving up when life gets difficult.
Garren advises the next generation to be comfortable thinking outside the box and not to worry about being rich, but to work toward building a good life, being supportive of others, and treating others with dignity and respect.