The creative forces behind the scenes at bobdonpaul.com extend far and wide, and one of the partners at this innovative marketing group is tapping into a personal passion of his and bringing a fun, new business to life. When Bob Manley is not at the helm of bobdonpaul.com and working to produce results for their many clients, he rolls up his sleeves and gets busy at his new venture: Hermit Woods Winery.
Bob opened Hermit Woods Winery this past June with partners and friends Ken Hardcastle and Chuck Lawrence. The trio met while mountain biking several years ago, and their friendship grew through their mutual love of wine and locally-produced beer and cider. They began a monthly wine-tasting gathering with their wives, and one year, all six friends went on a wine-tasting tour throughout Quebec. That trip became part of the inspiration to start their own winery.
They did a lot of research and preparation by sampling a wide variety of wines produced in the Northeast and Canada. They also experimented with local fruit and learned what would make good New Hampshire boutique wines. Then, three years ago, the friends decided the time was right to plan their own wine venture. Ken had many years of wine and beer making experience, and Bob and Chuck had the marketing and sales experience that would get the business off the ground.
As described by Bob, Ken, and Chuck, Hermit Woods Winery is a small boutique winery specializing in a wide variety of traditional grape wines, fruit wines, and honey wines (mead). Ken, Hermit Woods’ winemaker, says, “With the wide variety of locally-grown fruit available to us, the possibilities are infinite for the wonderful flavors that can be extracted, blended, and fermented into wine.” Their first season introduced wine lovers to a collection of traditional and fruit wines, including Kiwi, Crabapple, Apple, and Blueberry Wines. They also offered Three Honey Mead and a multi-berry honey wine, and a Malbec made from South American grapes.
So far, the winery is an overnight success. Says Bob, “We surpassed our expectations on all fronts this year, including number of visitors, response to our wine, wine sales, etc.” The winery’s first barrel tasting event on October 9th was a smash hit, with wave after wave of visitors coming to taste wines that are currently available, as well as two new wines, South American Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon, that are aging in oak barrels for next season. Several NH establishments are now carrying Hermit Woods wines; an assortment of varietals can be found at The Holderness General Store, Burt’s Better Beers, Smoke N Barley, The Beer Store Tavern 27, The Drinkery, and The Concord Co-op. During the warmer months, Hermit Woods wines can also be found at the Sanbornton Farmers Market and the Tilton Farmers Market. The folks at Hermit Woods will be working to make their wines more widely available, and plan to add new locations to their list in the coming year. The winery has been getting stellar reviews, and, as a feather in the partners’ caps, Ken and Bob were the keynote speakers at the Northern NH conference on Tourism last week.
For next season, Hermit Woods Winery has more than doubled their production, and will be opening on Memorial Day with 18 or 20 wines, many of which are their most popular wines from this year, plus a number of new ones. “We are very excited about next years’ Kiwi wine,” says Bob. “We had it in short supply this year—next year we should have about 20 cases.”
The Hermit Woods team is striving to make wines from local and organic fruit as much as possible, and this fall, the winery will be making its first wine from its own four-acre vineyard, where several varieties of hardy hybrid grapes have been growing for three years. Says Chuck, “What we do want to do is to make good, locally-grown products.” So far, the winery is right on track!
bobdonpaul.com blogging team