The year is 1977, and Guarav Maan’s grandparents and their then 14-year-old son just immigrated to Canada from Punjab, India. With what Maan described as a classic ‘$20 in their pockets’ story, the farmers had no idea that soon they would have the most successful and renowned wineries not only in Canada, but the world.
In the beginning, what is now a full-fledged multi-acre estate farm and winery was a 10-by-10 roadside fruit and vegetable stand. The Maan’s notoriously juicy strawberries sparked their popularity, and eventually built up to the business they have today in Abbotsford, B.C.
Guarav Maan grew up on the farm, and at one time was selling crates of fruit at the stand. The experience, he said, taught him his most valuable customer service and people skills. Maan later transitioned into learning the art of winemaking, and for the past 10 years, he’s honed his craft as the director of fruit wine operations and distribution.
Though the farm is a humble family business at its core, they’re no strangers to receiving accolades for their wine. Having competed at several international and national wine competitions, the Maan’s won gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, as well as previously winning best fruit wine of the year in 2018 at the same competition they just defended their title at—the All Canadian Wine Championships. Those two examples are only a drop out of the nearly 40 medals the winery has been awarded.
What goes into an award-winning bottle of wine?
Maan says it starts in the field.
“We’re in the Fraser Valley with some of the most fertile land for growing fruit. When we start in the field, we make sure to pick the best fruit that’s going into our wines. It’s not seconds,” he said.
“We know that the end of the process starts in the beginning, so it’s all about the growing practice and harvesting the fruit.”
Once the fruit has been harvested—approximately two pounds per bottle—the fermentation process begins.
After the fermentation process is completed, Maan says the most important step can begin: prepping the wine to be bottled.
Working alongside a wine consultant, Maan tries several glasses of the wine and works on adding certain elements to hone the flavour. Much like adding a pinch of salt to a dish, the winemaker will add either a different fruit wine or a bit of sugar.
One of his goals is to make a bottle of wine that tastes as authentic to the berry it’s made from as possible. Sometimes that means adding a dash of blueberry wine to a bottle of raspberry, or some sugar to balance out the acidity.
When asked if the raspberry wine that won gold at the recent competition was made differently with a medal in mind, Mann said the process is the same for all of their wines and that it’s all about the customers.
“It’s not necessarily the judges of a competition or our own preference. It depends on what customers are looking for. When we created this raspberry wine, we wanted someone who loves eating raspberries to come and love this wine,” he said.
“It tastes more raspberry than a raspberry. That was our intent and goal. Honestly, a byproduct of that was winning this award, because we’re authentic to the process.”
More than winemakers, they’re a family
Currently, five of Maan’s family members work full-time at the farm.
His father, Kris, and his brother, Amir, are the farmers and the most integral parts of their business, according to Maan. His sister, Gurleen, is the “creative vision” for the business, introducing new products and activities to boost community engagement. His mother, known as Mama Maan, is dubbed the heart of the business. A warm welcome to their customers, she also takes on management duties.
The family remains close, and Maan said that there’s still a sense of awe around their successes.
“We sit down at the dinner table and we’re in shock at where we’ve come to, and where we started. It’s just incredible, and every day things are getting better,” he said.
“My dad has a classic saying, and it’s that ‘every day in every way things are getting better and better,’ and that’s honestly what’s happening at the farm.”
Maan Farms can be found at 790 McKenzie Road in Abbotsford and their website is maanfarms.com.