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Quebec vineyard owner re-creates the historic beauty of her Czech homeland


Montreal antique dealer Henrietta Antony’s vision started with a small stone chapel. By the time she was finished, she’d created a terraced vineyard with medieval-style cellars underneath, two villas, two small lakes and a castle complete with grand ballroom.

“People would say ‘why?’” recalls her son John Antony. “And she’d say, ‘once I built the chapel, I wanted to build the vineyard and once I built that, then the chateau.’”

And so it went until she’d transformed her forested property on Mont Sutton in southern Quebec into an Old World showplace that serves as residence, vineyard, tourist attraction and site for special events.

This is the stuff that dreams are made on,” Antony told the Montreal Gazette in 2007, explaining the results of her project were reminiscent of her homeland in what was once Czechoslovakia.

Born in southern Moravia, Antony was surrounded by vineyards and centuries-old architecture before she immigrated to Canada as a teenager in 1949. Her antique store was a fixture in Montreal’s tony Westmount suburb for more than 60 years. She died in 2015 at the age of 82.

Her life was marked by creativity and passion for antiques and the 137-hectare property she acquired in stages, according to her son.

“Visually, it’s a beautiful, beautiful estate with a natural working vineyard and beautiful view of the mountains,” says John Antony, who lives and works there with his wife Karena.

Located about 120 kilometres southeast of Montreal, it was her weekend refuge where she gradually added multiple structures and the vineyard, called Chapelle Ste-Agnès after the stone chapel.

Built in a Romanesque style by European-trained craftsmen in the mid-1990s, the chapel was intended to house her collection of ecclesiastical works of art, John Antony says. It’s now used for weddings and baptisms.

Eighteen stone-walled terraces were carved into the 30-degree slope to make space for 7,000 vines, he explains. Underground wine cellars and tasting rooms were built into the hillside.

Described as “enchanting and magical” by the Gazette, the 20-year-old vineyard specializing in icewine attracts visitors for tours and tastings.

Other buildings set among green lawns and gardens include a second, larger house, and pink and yellow castle with a commercial kitchen and ballroom that can accommodate 150 people.

Cobblestone paths, murals, carved woodwork and mosaics provide decorative touches evocative of the Middle Ages.

John Atony, a trained vintner, runs the wine-making operation while Karena handles other functions of the estate. Apart from the private residence where they live, there’s overnight accommodation for up to 20 people, he says.

Real-estate broker Johanne Meunier struggles to sum up the impressive property.

“It’s really something to see and very hard to describe,” she says of the “amazing” stonework and medieval-style architecture.

“Mrs. Antony was very creative and she had this vision in her head. She just did it no matter what people thought,” says Meunier, who works for Sotheby’s International Realty Québec.

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THE NUMBERS

Price: $ 3.9 million

Structures: 2 single-family homes + several outbuildings

Bedrooms: 6 + additional sleeping areas

Bathrooms: 5

BRING IT HOME

With flea- and antique-market season upon us, there’s no time like the present to search out collectibles from the past. Make that centuries past, if medieval-style artwork and accessories are your Holy Grail.

The options are endless, ranging from banners, plaques and tapestries to swords, armour and statues.

One of the granddaddies of the business is the 56-year-old Aberfoyle Antique Market near Guelph, Ont., where more than 100 dealers ply their wares every Sunday. And TripAdvisor lists numerous markets, rated by reviewers, in Toronto and around Ontario on its website.

TORONTO STAR | LIFE | HOMES