We Couldn’t Miss The Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge At Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery
We followed the Cranberry Route in Muskoka in the fall and could not miss a chance to experience the Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge at Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery. The Bog to Bottle Discovery Tour at Johnston’s is a guided tour followed by a tutored wine tasting. It is part of the Canadian Signature Experience collection selected by the Canadian Tourism Commission. The Cranberry Bog Plunge was awarded the Premier’s Award For Agri-Food Innovation Excellence in 2017.
With our weekend pass, we wandered around the site and saw the cranberry farm operation. And visited the store for chocolate covered cranberries!
The wagon tour was an educational trip around the cranberry fields, narrated by the owner Wendy. We learned so much about cranberries! From there we did a great wine tasting with 6 different drinks.
But the highlight of our visit was a plunge into the cranberry bog! We suited up in waders, stepped into the water and were surrounded by floating cranberries. Could it be any more fun?
A Return To The Johnston’s Cranberry Bog At The Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery
On our first fall visit to Muskoka this year, we stopped at the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery. It was just before cranberry harvest season. So we knew we wanted to return. When the weather forecast looked perfect, it was the right time to explore the Cranberry Route in Muskoka.
As we watched the weather, we watched the ticket availability for the Johnston’s cranberry bog experience. During the week, various activities were scheduled separately. But on the weekends the only option was an All Access Pass. For us, the weather dictated a weekend visit. We planned for an early time slot. And this gave us a great reason for an overnight return stay at the JW Marriott Rosseau!
The online ticket process captured our license plate so we were quickly checked onto the property. During Covid-19, strict processes and reduced capacity was in place. And without an All Access Pass we could not even wander on the property on the weekend. We were issued wrist bands and a schedule for our visit.
The experience started with a narrated wagon ride where we learned more about cranberry farming. We then moved to a wine tasting. And we finished up with the Johnston’s Cranberry bog plunge.
We Wandered Around Before Our Tour Began
There was a large outdoor space with Muskoka chairs in front of a fire pit. Picnic tables were placed at well distanced spots to enjoy snacks purchased at the Cranberry Cafe in McArthur House.
Another set of Muskoka chairs were placed with a view out over the cranberry fields. It was a great spot for another view of the fall colours.
We went into the store and filled up our shopping cart while it was still quiet. There was a wide range of products for sale. Fresh cranberries were packaged. But we wanted a supply of dark chocolate covered cranberries and blueberries. We had a favourite chocolate cranberry spot in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. But we did not know when we might return there.
Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery also offered curbside pickup. So we knew one way to fill up our shopping basket on a return trip!
With our shopping and some pictures done, we headed for the wagon ride.
An Educational Wagon Ride Around The Cranberry Bog
The wagon seats were clearly marked with a large number of empty seats to provide social distancing. We chose seats near the front when we learned that the owner Wendy was doing the commentary during our wagon ride. She sat behind a plastic barrier with a microphone.
The wagon pulled by a tractor followed a route around several of the cranberry fields. As we went along, we caught glimpses of cranberry bogs before and after they were flooded.
On our route we went past the large statue of the Bala Bog Monster Koilos. The sculpture was created by Michael Christian in 2007 for Burning Man. It resided in several spots in Ontario before it settled at Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery in 2019.
Throughout our wagon ride, we learned a lot about cranberry farming from Wendy. As we walked around the property we stopped regularly to check out signs that told us more about this fascinating business.
A wagon ride around the cranberry fields was a great start to our visit. The timing of the various events on our schedule was well spread out. So it gave us time to wander closer to the bogs we passed on our wagon ride.
A Few Things To Know About Farming Cranberries
We were amazed to learn that there were over 100 varieties of cranberries. Johnston’s currently harvested 5 varieties.
Wendy told us about the various ways that cranberries were harvested. We saw the wet harvesting all over the Johnston’s site. We were fascinated by the bogs that were already flooded. Bright red cranberries covered the large surface of the water. We learned that the cranberries had 4 air chambers which was why they floated.
In other fields, the cranberry plants were still dry. Cranberries don’t grow in water. The red colour of the field was obvious. But the cranberries were hard to see as they grew close to the ground on dense vines.
Cranberries were harvested in several different ways. Some were hand picked. But other pieces of equipment were used to harvest as well.
During packaging the cranberries were first washed and air dried. Did you know that cranberries bounce? The cranberries were put in a large machine that looked like a ladder with seven steps. The good ones bounced to the bottom while the bad ones stayed on the steps. Some cranberries were sold fresh. But others went through a drying process for packaging.
We never knew there was so much to learn about cranberry farming, harvesting and processing.
Wine Tasting At Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery
David likes his wine sweet. We tried ice wines in the Niagara Region and on the west coast in Canada. And on our last visit to British Columbia we toured the Fraser Valley and checked out the fruit wines and ciders. So we definitely were interested in wine tasting at the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery.
The winery started producing wines with very small batches of 500 bottles. But demand soon created a complete product line.
Two different wine tasting options were available. On our weekend All Access Pass we tried 6 different drinks. During the week, a wine and cheese pairing was available as a stand-alone event.
The tables were set up so that you stayed with your small group for the tasting. The six different drink samples were in cups put into a labelled cupcake tin. We sampled from driest to sweetest – Muskoka Red, Cranberry, Cranberry-Blueberry, White Cranberry and then Blueberry wines. The rosé wine was all sold out so the 6th drink was the Cliff Jump Cider.
The variation in taste as we moved through the wines was interesting. The wines started dry and tart. But we were surprised that even the sweetest was not syrupy sweet. The wine tasting warmed us up before we set off for the Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge.
A Colourful Walk To The Cranberry Plunge Bog
From the wine tasting area we saw the cranberry bog where the plunge happened off in the far field. After our wine tasting we did not dawdle but started on the long walk out to the bog.
David’s GPS showed the walk we did around the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery. There was a slight hill to get down to and back up from the field. The bog plunge was not really suitable for people who were mobility challenged. And height restrictions meant that children could not do the plunge.
It was a lovely fall walk through the woods. The pond reflected the changing colours on the trees. Every now and then we moved aside as working machinery passed by.
As we walked along we followed the path on the outside of the fields to the plunge area. We saw the main buildings up on the hill. And then we arrived at the plunge bog
We were excited as we checked in. It was time for our fun at the Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge.
The Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge
The changing areas were all carefully separated with benches and plastic. We got our waders and began the process of getting dressed. As scuba divers we were used to squirming into neoprene suits. This was about as much fun!
When we planned this excursion, I was very worried about the bog bottom being slippery. And worried that I might fall in and swim in the cranberries. But the path into the bog was gentle and David stopped to help. When I moved slowly my footing felt stable. Only when I stopped did I have to be careful as my boots sunk into the mud on the bottom. David had his camera ready at all times!
Playing In The Cranberry Bog
We dressed quickly and got into the bog first. So we had lots of time to play in the cranberry bog. And even when others showed up, the spacing was far enough apart that we even removed our masks. We scooped up cranberries and looked at them. And then laughed as we threw them in the air.
In the bog we found mostly red cranberries but we also saw white cranberries. These were still ripe cranberries. The white cranberries were used in the White Cranberry Wine.
Our Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge at Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery was so much fun. A great fall activity on our travels on the Cranberry Route in Muskoka in the fall.
We Had A Blast Doing The Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge At Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery
As we travelled the Cranberry Route in Muskoka in the fall we found a lot of fun and tasty adventures. But we were so glad we planned an excursion to experience the Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge at Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery.
The fall colours were still vibrant when we visited. So it was great as we wandered around the farm and saw the cranberry operations. And we picked up a supply of chocolate covered cranberries!
We learned so much on our wagon ride with Wendy. The wine tasting selection offered an interesting variety. But our plunge into the cranberry bog was something we will remember for a long time!
Cranberries are only native to North America. Although there are “cousins” to cranberries in other countries (e.g. lingonberry in Sweden, the cowberry in England). Even blueberries are cousins. If you visit North America in the fall, plan to experience the cranberry harvest and a bog walk!
Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery planned to be open in the winter for a different set of activities. The bogs were flooded and ice rinks were created. We will definitely plan a return visit in the winter!
Have you done the Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge At Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery? What was your favourite part of the day?
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How fun! I’d love to try this at some point, especially if they have cranberry wine. I never tasted it before. My cousin who lives in Canada told me about the Cranberry Plunge Bog. She went to visit a cranberry farm, but I don’t believe it was this one. They probably have this kind of bogs in other farms as well. I thought the bottom might be slippery. Good thing you didn’t fall in!
Anda, We were so glad we got back to do this. A fun fall day activity. Linda
What an exciting and interesting experience you seem to have had, it is always fun to learn new things. For example, I did not know that cranberries do not grow in water. Wine testing in that landscape seems to be very relaxing, can not wait until I get to try something similar myself.
Ann, It was an interesting and fun day. I hope you get to try this one day. Linda
Stop. It!! This looks like SO much fun. I’ve always wanted to see cranberries growing ever since I saw those 2 guys on the Ocean Spray commercials. Lol! What a fabulous thing to do. I definitely am going to check this out when I get to the region. So fun!!
Jennifer, I hope you do get to try this one day. We enjoyed all parts of our cranberry adventure. Linda
Wow! What a great experience. It is nice that they have educational wagon ride and they are following social distancing too. We would love to visit someday. Thank you for sharing the the things you know about farming cranberries. Learned something new today.
Clarice, It was a fun day learning more about cranberry farming. And a fun outing in the bog. Hope you get to do this one day. Linda
Oh, I’ve always wanted to see this up close. This looks like a perfect day with fall colors, cranberry bogs and wine and food tasting. Mmmm.
Nancy, It was a beautiful fall day for a visit to the Johnston’s Cranberry farm. So much fun! Linda
What great fun! Loved this post. The chocolate covered cranberries sound amazing!
Adele, I am glad you like the post. It was a lot of fun and we wanted to share the experience. We sure came home with a good supply of cranberries! Linda
What a very descriptive article. Thanks for all the information, Linda! You said you visited ‘just before cranberry harvest season’ but the place looked so much fun to see. I heard they plan a lot of activities during harvest season. Would you know when that is? Going to get ready for next year! Thanks for your tips and I hope you had a lovely Sunday!
Cristina, Sorry I was not more clear. On our first visit it was not cranberry season. So we went back for this visit to see the whole cranberry season. In this part of Canada, the harvest happens around the Canadian Thanksgiving. The local Bala Cranberry Festival is the week after Thanksgiving. Linda
I love eating cranberries and have always been fascinated by the harvesting process. Thank you for explaining it so well.
We were so happy we visited for the whole cranberry experience. A lot of fun. And educational too! Linda
I love cranberry a lot, but never seen it actually growing. It must be great to see in their natural blooms and then go for picking up handful of them. It would be great to take a drive through Muskoka Cranberry route and drop in some of the wineries to get freshly made wines and pluck some fresh produce too. Even fall colors here look very prominent and I really loved the nature here. Perfect for weekend out.
Yukti, It was so fun to find this cranberry blog. A great fall day activity. Linda
I have always heard of fruit wine but never Cranberry wine. This article makes me want to try some. I wonder if we have any in Thailand. Your experience looks too fun – very inclusive. I went on a wine tour and it is not as fun – very basic. Your pics are nice too!
Thanks! I hope you find some cranberry wine one day. Good if you like your drinks fruity! Linda
I love the picturesque nature colours during autumn. Wow that’s a lot of cranberries, love them.
Mimmie, It was certainly a fun spot for cranberry fans! Linda
I was able to take my first dip in a cranberry bog last fall in New England, USA. It was one of my travel highlights. I never knew Canada grows cranberries. It is cool how many things they offer there too. Ours is really just the tour and a small store- and no chocolate covered cranberries!
We were surprised at how many different things there were to see and do at Johnston’s Cranberries. Lots of reasons to head back. Linda
Wow that would have been such great fun. I had never heard of the Cranberry Bog Plunge. I knew about the grapes though. But this is so cool. I have never tried it before and would love to experience it. The Muskoka Lakes Farm looks so pretty and beautiful. I am adding this to my list of places to visit.
Raksha, This was a lot of fun. I hope you get to visit Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery one day. Definitely worth being on a travel wish list. Linda
I love your smile in the cranberry bog! This looks like such a blast! I am not the biggest wine person but Darcee loves exploring different wineries so this may be the perfect fit for both of us. I love how interactive the Johnston’s Cranberry Bog At The Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery is with all the things to do before drinking! Don’t get me wrong, the tasting tent is a major bonus but put the waders on me cause I want to dive in!
Eric, We did love the diversity of things to do on this weekend tour. Darcee and I could enjoy an extra glass of wine while you and David performed in the cranberry blog! A fun fall day trip. Linda
I loved this post! It looks like you had such a fun time! I’m a big fan of cranberries and those chocolate covered cranberries sounds amazing. Plus I learned a lot about cranberries, like how they have air chambers that make them float and the fact that they bounce. Thanks for the interesting read!
Martha, I am glad you liked this post. We did indeed have a great time. And we too learned a lot! Linda
Well this is the first time I have ever read about this activity and it looks like a lot of fun. I regularly drink cranberry juice and love chocolate coated cranberries at Christmas but never realised that wine was made from them! Love your photos, such great colours on the trees.
Angela, Thanks! It was fun to learn more about cranberries. And have lots of tasty treats. A great time to visit with the fall colours. Linda
Wait! Cranberry wine? Sounds amazing but the dark chocolate Cranberries sound even better. I would have visited just for two those things but it looks like there is so much more to do there.
Lourdes, We too would have visited just for the tasty treats. But loved the whole farm and plunge experience. Linda
What fun! I seriously love that you were able to do this! I never knew cranberries could be so much fun (or make so many great wine flavors)! This just seems like such a quintessential fall activity. I love when people expand their business operations to include offerings like this. Thanks for sharing!
Jenn, We were so glad we got to do the cranberry experience this year. We missed it a few weeks ago and were so happy we planned a return trip. A great way to celebrate fall. Linda
The cranberry harvest adverts on TV in the States were iconic, but I didn’t actually believe that that was how cranberries were harvested, but you’ve just enlightened me that they do flood the fields and harvest them that way. What an interesting afternoon you had … I’m never going to look at a glass of cranberry juice in the same light again… I have a new found appreciation for the process.
Jay, It was really fun to see this in person. And it was great to learn more about the process. But being in the bog was something we will remember for a long time. Linda
This sounds like a fun and different winery tour. I love it that you still got to go for a tour despite of covid, and you were able to experience the cranberry plunge. That looks so fun! I have never heard of this before so it was interesting to learn about it.
Paula, We were happy that Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery went above and beyond to put Covid processes in place. Made the visit that much more fun. We were happy with each piece of our experience. Linda
This looks so much fun. I love cranberries but can’t get them where we live. Jumping around in the bog would be a lot of fun, I love being a kid again. The autumn colours on the trees looks stunning.
Sarah, We were happy we got to this experience. The fall colours made the whole visit magical. Linda
I love this! I never realised you could have so much fun with the humble cranberry! I’m fascinated by the bog plunge but you also grabbed my attention with wine & trying them chocolate covered. Looks like they have every angle covered. What a great place to visit, especially with those beautiful views.
Sue, We loved every way we could enjoy cranberry harvest season on this trip. A great day excursion in the fall colours. Linda
This looks like such a fun experience. Not only does the wine tasting sound like something I would enjoy, but the cranberry bog looks so fun. You got some fun pictures from that too 🙂
Candy, It was a fun day at the cranberry farm. So many ways to enjoy the season. Linda
What a fun and unique experience! I’ve never considered visiting a cranberry farm before but it looks like the perfect activity for this time of year! I’m glad to hear that the bog was so much fun and I can see that it was the perfect place for some really striking pictures! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen white cranberries before, either. I’d love to try some white cranberry wine!
Kevin, It was fun to see the cranberries and then enjoy so many different cranberry treats. Loved the variety in the cranberry wine. Linda
What an fun-filled adventure! I would love to do this someday. It’s great they provide you with the right dress and boots to walk around and perhaps jump on the cranberries. You pictures are so beautiful! You have captured the autumn colors so well! 🙂
Jan, This was the perfect excursion. And great that they were prepared to have us all play in the bog. Hope you get to do this one day. Linda
This is truly amazing – never heard of something like this! Also, I would have thought this was rather for kids but judging from the height, they would probably drown 🙂 Anyway, definitely an activity that makes fall fun!
Renata, I am sure kids would love this. But they would need a much smaller pond of cranberries. Us big kids stilled enjoyed the treat. Linda
It seems you guys had a magical experience, in your photos i saw the Muskoka chairs set up with a view of the cranberry fields. Especially in the fall season, when nature plays a splash of colors, I can very well understand how beautiful it must be? Nicely written informative piece.
Ramya, We had the perfect weather for a visit to the cranberry farm. Every part of our day was fun and colourful. Linda
I’ve always wanted to do this! I can’t think of a better way to spend a nice fall day in Muskoka than to visit the cranberry bog. It looked like so much fun. I would love to try some cranberry wine.
Renee, It was a fun trip for sure. Indeed a great way to spend a fall day in Muskoka. Hope you get to go one year. Linda
What a fun experience this looks like! You had my attention from the first photo! I’ve learned so much about cranberries from reading this – I’ll remember these stories as I make cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner this year 🙂
Coralie, I am glad you enjoyed our experience in the Cranberry Bog. It was a fun way to learn more about cranberries. Good stories for the holidays. Linda
There is actual cranberrywine? 😀
I have tried cranberry cider, which was quite good, but I had no idea there was wine. I am going to see if there is to order here in Sweden 🙂
Ann, I was interested to try the different cranberry wines. It was not super sweet which was perfect for me. I had cranberry wine in British Columbia that I found too sickly sweet. I hope you can find it online. This winery does a small production so are most of the wine is consumed locally. Linda
Oh this looks like so much fun.
Bree, We loved spending the day at the Johnston’s Cranberry farm. Great fun. And educational too. Linda
I think it’s a perfect idea to participate at The Johnston’s Cranberry Bog Plunge At Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery. Such a great trip and fun. I would love to try an educational trip around the cranberry fields. And I would like to harvest cranberry and tasting wine. Fall colors are spectacular too o this farm.
Agnes, We did have so much fun and learned so much. A fun fall outing! Linda