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Saturday, May 19, 2012


The beginning of a venture as big as this one did not come overnight, and stepping off the cliff in a show of faith is a defining moment. After nearly five years, beginning with purchasing the land to plant our first vine, to now after years of trying to sell my business and finally doing so, I can say that I am now a full time vintner.

Officially I passed the keys on to new owners of my plastics business on April 2nd of 2012. And shy of providing some start-up assistance and being tethered to them via the phone and through email for a few months to offer advice, I have walked away from a business I started over 25 years ago to jump head first into growing grapes. The event was planned for quite a long time, and it was inevitable that there would be a time when the vineyard just took too much time for me to straddle two businesses.

Soon after Diane and I planted our first 2400 vines, I was spending a week a month at the vineyard doing minor upkeep work, but as the vines grew they demanded more and more of my time. Last year I really needed to be at the vineyard 3 out of every 4 weeks, but I was only able to be there half of every month.  When I returned to the land I played catch-up on the mowing, spraying, and pruning as best I could.  But I never really felt as if I had caught up, and when it was time for me to return North I didn't want to go. My work was not done.

Late last year we bought another farm, with the primary intent being to find the perfect spot for the winery to be built. Of course it needed its own vines to go along with the winery, and our plans began to add still more vines. All of this led to the final decision to pull out of Sheltech Plastics and devote my full time to my new 2nd life. When I drove away from the day to day rat race of manufacturing, I don't think I glanced into the mirror once. It had done me well and had run its course. My attention is now fully devoted to over 7500 vines.

I couldn't wait to pack the truck and head south. There was alot of things to clean up before I "disappeared" though.  Bills needed to be paid, things gathered to bring down that I might need. I was also in the middle of a grad course I was taking at Virginia Tech that had to be considered so that it wouldn't be interrupted. Sure there were plenty of things that needed to be done around the house, but I would be back sometime to knock them out; I would be motivated to sell the house at some point. What was the most odd was that I was leaving and not knowing when I would be back. I gave myself at least a month before I would give it any thought. I had so many things that had to be done before the new grafted vines arrived in mid-May sometime. Poles and wire, and drip-irrigation supplies had to be ordered. The task of setting everything up before holes were dug was monumental to say the least. There was certainly alot of planning, but the bull work ahead was daunting.

There was also the new old house that required attention. (see previous post) Moving in, getting all the services hooked up, getting some basic grounds work done. You don't grasp the number of little things you do to get a household running smooth until you are forced to do them all at once because of a move or relocation. 

The transition isn't fully complete however because Diane hasn't moved down yet. She is still tied to her job, and the house is still there. Until it is sold out from under her, and until the winery requires more of her time, she will still be a Northerner. In the eyes of our new neighbors, we will always be Yankees (not to be confused with the Bronx Bombers) but it is likely I will adapt to Southern ways before she does.

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