Richard A. Auger CFM, President, is responsible for overall management of the winery and wine making process. He has several years experience in making small batch wines and has won numerous awards for his efforts. He is a Certified Facility Manager and thus knows the importance of process, sanitation and statistical process control. With a background in the biotech manufacturing (fermentation) and pharmaceutical industry (bioprocessing) for over 10 years and hospital management for 5 years, Richard understands the need for fiscal control and attention to winemaking process control.
“The Wine Maker’s Wife Tells All -- 2002”
In the beginning…Most stories begin this way and ours is no different.
In the beginning…It was December 1993, my husband, Dick, asked me to buy him a book on winemaking for Christmas. He had never asked me to buy him anything in the past, which should have been my first clue, but I was caught up with hectic holiday preparations.
At the time, he was working for a bio- tech company that was ready to bring their drug from the lab into commercial manufacturing and Dick was hired to build the plant. It just so happens that the manufacturing process was fermentation based and he was learning quite a bit about that process from the scientists there (their Phd’s were in very narrow fields of fermentation).
One Friday, as my husband was leaving work, he noticed a group the scientists he worked with, gathered together, grilling up some sausage (actually his nose led him to the group) and sharing what turned out to be their home brewed beer. It seems that they used their knowledge of fermentation to brew beer as a hobby. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, my husband asked if he could join them and they response was “No!” They told him that his “ticket” to join the group was to ferment something; bread, cheese, beer or wine, it didn’t ’matter. By process of elimination (bread was boring, we don’t drink beer, we didn’t have goats) Dick decided he wanted to learn how to make wine so he could join the group.
He came home just before Christmas and told me that he would like a book on winemaking (leaving out the details of why). I really thought he wanted to “read” about winemaking and didn’t know about these “parking lot” parties. My husband was known to be a consummate reader, so I thought this was an innocent request at the time. Little did I know where one “innocent” book would lead us.
He devoured the book Christmas day and announced that we were going on a ride the next day to check out a wine supply store. Before I knew it, we were the proud owners of a Chardonnay Kit and he was totally engrossed in making wine turning my kitchen into a laboratory. As you can well imagine, that one book turned into dozens, and more wine kits purchased. Of course, one needs something to cork the bottles with, so our first official piece of equipment was a hand held corker. Wine kits quickly became boring as he wanted to really experience the wine making process, so we began purchasing juice on the open market as well as from local farms. We made, Chardonnay, White Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Novella, Ice Wine, Late Harvest Riesling, Kiwi Zinfandel, Merlot, Blackberry Merlot, Strawberry Wine, Blueberry Wine, Apricot cordial, Cherry Cordial…well, you get the picture. He continued to learn a great deal about the chemistry of fermentation from his scientist colleagues at work.
Bottling became overwhelming for just the 2 of us, so we began hosting “Bottling Parties”, inviting friends and neighbors to help bottle, cork and label our wine while enjoying great food and of course, great wine. Each guest would take home several bottles from that evening’s production, asking when the next event would occur. Whenever anyone came to the house, they were given several bottles of wine to try and “report back” their comments. The comments received back were mostly “Can I buy some of your wine?” or “My friends really liked the wine and want to buy a case.” We had to inform them that we could not sell them any because we weren’t licensed which greatly disappointed them. People continued to beg us to sell them the wine until one day, after quite a bit of discussion, we decided (I believe that was a day we sampled just a bit too much wine) to sell our house and find appropriate property to start a vineyard and winery.
We were fortunate to find land that had been previously farmed by the Taylor family. Located, high on a hill (about 900 ft. elevation) across the street from Taylor Brooke, Taylor Brooke Winery was born. We built our house and began planting our vines by hand in 1999. Over the next few years, we continued to plant more vines, with over 2200 vines currently in full production and several more hundred planned for 2008. After a year of navigating the federal and state licensing process, we were finally licensed to manufacture and sell our wine in November 2003. We began selling our wine to a few package stores in the NE CT area and opened our tasting room June 25, 2004.
Today, we see over 5,000 people each year with many of our visitors coming back several times each year to purchase their favorite wines. Most of our 2100 case production is sold from tasting room, with limited local distribution in package stores and restaurants.
…To think it all started with a book. If I’d only known….