It all started back in 2001 with a shoebox full of grapevine cuttings from a fellow in Minnesota. I had heard about these new, winter-hardy grape varieties and I sent him an email. I stuck the cuttings in the ground; they grew. Within a few years, grapes took over our strawberry fields, and now we find ourselves one of the largest grape producers in the state of Vermont.
In 2006 we made our first batch of commercial wine. Now we’re making about 25,000 bottles of wine a year– all strictly from grapes grown on our farm. We’ve entered the International Cold-Climate Wine Competitions four years now, and we’ve won three best-in-show awards along with several gold and double-gold medals.
Some folks may have thought we were crazy to start an enterprise like this, but with some good land, careful farming techniques, a great farm crew, and support from our neighbors, it’s all working out. We like to think that we’re helping to turn a new page in Vermont’s long and varied agricultural history.
We began farming this land in 1981, when I started an apple tree nursery. I grafted and sold trees for 10 years, all the while getting a strawberry farm established. The strawberry enterprise took off; folks used to line theirs cars up in the morning waiting for us to open our gates. The strawberries were good to us for more than 20 years, but the promise of the new, cold-hardy grape varieties caught our attention, and we started off on a new enterprise yet again.
Using a small greenhouse, we propagated grapevines quickly — and sold vines to other upstart vineyards for several years. It didn’t take long to plant our strawberry fields over to grapes. The grapes thrived here, and the wine was good. A new chapter in the life of this farm — and family — had begun.