Hessenland Inn & Schatz Winery {review}

Hessenland Inn & Schatz Winery is the ultimate Ontario West Coast wedding destination offering gazebos, overnight accommodations, waterfalls, lake access, and gorgeous indoor & outdoor wedding spaces

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Located along the shores of Lake Huron between Bayfield & Grand Bend, Hessenland offers a unique combination of history, innovation, and European elegance. Original exposed stone walls in the reception space pairs perfectly with over 40 acres of gardens & vineyard for you and your guests to enjoy the famous Huron County sunsets.  This family-owned and operated retreat offers overnight accommodations, a vineyard, inside and outside reception spaces, two pavilions, two gazebos, a waterfall feature, a pond, and a lookout tower with panoramic views of the gardens, grounds, and Lake Huron shoreline.

Whether you’re hosting an intimate weekend with a few loved ones, or 180 of your nearest & dearest, Hessenland welcomes you! Lead wedding coordinator, Kelsi tell us, “Our professional team and full-service packages will ensure no detail is overlooked & make every moment a stress-free, fun, and memorable experience. We are not just a wedding venue – we are here to provide you and your guests an immersive experience of all that Hessenland & Huron County has to offer.”

Photos above: Jorge Polio Photography

We sat down with Kelsi Trotter, lead wedding coordinator at Hessenland to find more about this amazing wedding venue as well as how she can help make your wedding day everything you dreamed of. After a few years living in England & travelling, Kelsi knew she wanted to blend her years of hospitality experience and yoga philosophy and immerse herself fully into the event world. Since Huron County has always been home, joining the Hessenland family as a venue coordinator was a natural choice. 

As a certified wedding and events coordinator (IEWP), Kelsi brings her love  creating events that blend the traditional with the unconventional to event design to every Hessenland event. “My goal as a planner is to be organized & efficient while ensuring every wedding embodies the couples essence authentically & I encourage all couples to mindfully create experiential moments that are as unique as them. Hessenland is an inclusive venue & I want to make couples feel at home & stress free on their day.”

A family affair

Hessenland was brought to fruition by Ernst and Christa Ihrig in 1982 when they immigrated to Canada. Together they raised their family and grew Hessenland from the foundation provided by the nineteenth century Bedard Homestead. In the 1980s through until the early 2000s, Hessenland established its restaurant, restored its ‘Coach House’ event space, and grew to become a popular 20-room accommodation provider, all while keeping in touch with the bounty provided by the love and landscape of Huron County.

It’s easy to imagine that their family-run approach to service and weddings has helped win over the hearts of brides through the years. Hessenland is an inclusive venue – every person that walks through their doors is welcomed with open arms and hearts as if they are part of the family.

Natasha Fisher felt like family when she first visited Hessenland, too. One of the main reasons she chose to host her wedding ceremony and reception at Hessenland was because of the location and how well they create a wedding setting. “Their gardens are beautiful and everything is so convenient for the wedding party as well as the guests,” she told The Ring.

The Ihrig family enjoy greeting new and familiar faces alike as the second generation of Ihrigs take the helm at the Inn. The legacy of the Hanovarian horses once boarded onsite has been lovingly repurposed to house a growing family of eight grape varietals. Green-thumb goddess Christa indulges in the design of the property gardens. The passion and skill she has put into the gardens have given Hessenland the classic look so many people have come to know and love.

Ernst and Christa’s son, Frank, is the Head Chef and Viticulturist (someone who studies the science and production of grapes). He returned to the family business in the early 2000s after developing his culinary skills and passion for wine in Europe and Australia, as well as through regular sojourns across Ontario’s established and emerging wine regions (Niagara, Prince Edward County, and Lake Huron South Shore, included!). In 2014, Frank initiated the family-run micro-vineyard and continues to tend to the common and hybrid grape varietals situated across 5 acres.

 

Frank’s wife, Liz, is the on-site coordinator for all of the Hessenland weddings and events. She came to the location with six years experience in convention services and event planning at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto and is passionate about curating unique experiences for each and every Hessenland guest. This includes taking the lead in offering a variety of wellness programs throughout the calendar year.  Imagine practicing yoga in the gardens on the morning of your wedding day!

Photos above: Kimberly Roy Photography

The options are endless

Hessenland is infused with both heritage and innovation at every corner.  This includes the expansion of the original buildings, which involved turning the original barn into The Coach House – a reception hall that seats an average of 175 guests at any one event. Throughout the process, the Ihrig family paid special attention to preserving the romance and history of the property. The original roof and top half of the walls were carefully laid down by the Mennonites to preserve the integrity of the structure. The remaining walls were then sandblasted to show off the beauty of their original stone. The top of the walls and the roof were rebuilt to complement both the stonework and the surrounding property.

Jenni De Block Kreller held her wedding ceremony and reception at Hessenland and told us that the Coach House and restaurant area are both beautiful. “There is a natural warmth to the rooms,” she adds. “It’s like a destination wedding in your backyard. You get the luxuries of having everything done and taking the stress out of the wedding planning… [and] they do such a beautiful job keeping the grounds maintained.”

The Sunset Tower is a silo that’s been converted into a lookout tower. Kelsi says it’s one of the favourite spots on the property for photos. “From the top of the silo, there are opportunities for great sunset photos with Lake Huron in the background,” explains Kelsi. “You can also pose for the Rapunzel-type picture with the groom below and the bride up above, or capture a panoramic shot of your beloved guests in attendance for your big day!”

Jason and Nicole McFalls held their wedding reception and post-wedding brunch at Hessenland and highly recommend it to anyone who asks – and even those who don’t. They loved the unique and rustic charm of the Coach House and felt that the room had a great flow with the bar set outside the main room with a great view of the beautiful grounds. But what the couple particularly loved about their experience at Hessenland was their amazing photos that were taken up the Sunset Tower. “The sunset was amazing! Overall, we are left with memories of great service by the Hessenland team.”

But the spaces don’t end there. The renovated Garden Room has also become a popular spot for weddings at Hessenland. Smaller in scale than the Coach House, it’s ideal for brides who are looking for a more intimate setting for their wedding. The Hessenland property also offers the Wedding Pavilion, the Grand Gazebo, the Cherry Tree Pavilion, the Willow Tree, the Anniversary Gazebo, the Waterfall feature, and the beautifully manicured gardens that Christa has designed and continues to maintain with love.

At Hessenland, it seems as if no matter what space(s) you utilize for your wedding, there will always be beautiful backdrops close by. Kelsi says, “You can select the ceremony location and photo locations that best suit your taste and wedding style. We’ll accommodate you anyway that we can.” And, Hessenland is open for weddings year-round and is gorgeous in both the summer and the winter. Plus, winter and off-day weddings are 10% off.

Natasha felt that her ceremony and reception spaces at Hessenland were absolutely breathtaking and better than she could have imagined. “I think the staff decorates and sets up as if it’s their own wedding,” she says. “They have a very elegant and sophisticated look but with accessories and flowers that can easily be switched to suit the mood.”  Hessenland also works closely with area vendors, specializing in wedding decorating and design, to help couples customize the venue for their unique wedding experience.

Staying overnight

When you book your wedding at Hessenland, you will receive ‘The Coach House suite’, complimentary from noon onward. “Some brides like to come in early and get ready right on-site,” Kelsi told us. “From The Coach House suite, you can see most of the property, and they can see their guests or their groom arriving.” Tying in with the history of the land and their building, The Coach House suite offers a four-poster bed, fireplace, and antique-style furniture throughout, not to mention an in-room Jacuzzi tub for optimal relaxation.

There are twenty guest rooms available at Hessenland Inn, which are tastefully decorated and offer historic charm met with modern comfort and amenities. Your wedding guests can use these recently renovated rooms for the rehearsal night and/or the wedding night. Kelsi can arrange for a block of rooms to be reserved for your guests, and out of town couples will get a discount on guest rooms.

Hessenland offers a Tasting Banquet for booked Wedding couples during their popular Wedding Open House held annually on the last weekend in April. Enjoy a curated banquet of flavours from delicious appetizers to entrees and desserts, plus an assortment of local wine and beer (including their very own Hessenland Helles). The executive chef is also on hand to answer any questions you may have. A customized note sheet is provided to assist you with your preferences and selections so that when you meet with Kelsi, you can work out the final details for your perfect wedding menu.

Photos Above: Taylor Hughes Photography

A destination-style weekend wedding getaway

So much has changed in the last year, this includes wedding planning. Kelsi tells us, “We are seeing couples re-evaluate their wedding plans, and many are looking for an intimate, elopement style day. Hessenland offers the ease of an elopement without compromising the finer details or the experience of a true Hessenland wedding.”

Bride Kimberly shared the love for this destination-style getaway following her July wedding at Hessenland.  “If you are thinking destination wedding make that destination Hessenland Inn! We visited Hessenland for the first time last January and we knew this venue was for us. You could feel the magic and see the beauty hidden under the snow. My husband fell in love instantly and we booked that day for our July wedding. The Hessenland team is fantastic to work with. Frank is an amazing chef our guests are still talking about the food and venue! So many choices on the property to choose to host your ceremony my husband had a hard time deciding! Beautiful venue for your wedding pictures from the Coach House to the grounds to the vineyard! You truly won’t be disappointed choosing Hessenland Inn & Schatz Winery for your special day! I know my husband and I will be back to Hessenland to celebrate our first anniversary and many more!”

Packages

You can choose one of the following three distinct wedding packages at Hessenland Inn & Schatz Winery – they are priced per person and are based on your selected food service. All in-house wine is made on the property at Schatz Winery.

“They put the packages together very well; everything is laid out for you so there are less questions to ask,” Natasha says. “They have packages that would suit every different person and they are very accommodating.”

‘Premier’ Package | from $107.95 to $146.61 per person includes: banquet hall rental • the grounds (for your ceremony and pictures) • ceremony set-up • chairs and umbrellas • sparkling wine & hors d’oeuvres served by staff after the ceremony dinner • (3 courses or buffet) • 2 bottles of wine per table of 10 • 2 hour cocktail bar service • linens, tableware • bartender and wait staff • late night cake cutting service • couple receives a complimentary Suite on the night of the wedding & Breakfast for two in the dining room the next morning • 60 minute rehearsal with onsite wedding planner

‘Signature’ Package | from $132 to $178.68 per person includes everything from the Premier Package above with 4 additional hours of bar service (2 hour cocktails & 4 after dinner)on

‘The GoldSchatz’ Package – The Complete Hessenland Experience | from $205 to $276.01 per person includes: everything from the ‘Premier’ Package (above), as well as exclusive use of the property Friday to Sunday • welcome cocktail & rehearsal dinner • Breakfast for your guests in the Garden Room the day after your wedding

Décor options are available from Hessenland.

NEW for 2021

‘Elopement’ Package (maximum ten people)| $4500 • Onsite wedding planner to assist in planning your day • 3 hour use of Hessenland Inn gardens and vineyards • choice of Vineyard, Coach House, Garden Room, or Winery • personalized digital invitation • inclusive officiant • unique ceremony backdrop & set up • charcuterie and a small cake • signature drink carefully curated for each couple • private 3 course wine dinner • couple receives complimentary two night stay in one of the suites •

Top left photo: Alison Oliver Photography, Bottom right photo: Sandra Regier, All other photos courtesy of Hessenland Inn & Schatz Winery

Jenni loved the variety and options that Hessenland offered. “We really liked how they had set packages that were reasonably priced, and the fact that you could also build your own to suit your needs as well,” she says of Hessenland’s flexibility.

Details, details, details

• Hessenland Inn is a popular wedding location so try to book a year in advance
• Hessenland offers an easy payment schedule leading up to your day with specific due dates determined by your wedding date

  • $2500 non-refundable retainer due at the date of booking
  • 25% of total due six months out
  • 50% of total due six weeks out
  • 100% of total 7 business days out
  • Any additional charges incurred during the wedding is due within 24 hours

• Taxes and gratuities are extra and not included in quoted prices.

Contacting Hessenland Inn…

Kelsi and the team at the Inn welcome any questions or booking inquiries that you may have – whether it’s for the location, accommodation, or off-site catering. You can reach them by email using the form below. The Inn is located steps from Lake Huron between Grand Bend and Bayfield on Highway 21, 45 minutes North of London. Hessenland has also been featured regularly on the Ring including in this Real Wedding Story.

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