December is a great time to look back at the year that is coming to an end. A good time to take stock of accomplishments, blessings, good fortune, and happy times. At Harvest Ridge, we wanted to take a moment to share our 2014 highlights with you all. Some of which you may know, some you may have missed. ALL have contributed to this year being memorable.
We began 2014 only having been open for 2 months. We hit the ground running. In January we hosted the first of our events- the wine and cheese pairings. These were a huge success — so much so that we have more scheduled for January 2015! These events were a great way to meet our customers, get to know them and allow them to get to know us — and our wine. In January, the Good Libations Tour (which includes Harvest Ridge, Painted Stave Distilling, Mispillion Brewing, Fordham and Dominion Brewing, and Pizzadili Vineyard) officially kicked off, allowing people to visit all 5 Kent County establishments and win prizes.
February brought several bridal shows where we were able to strut our stuff and introduce brides to what our winery has to offer as a private event venue. We enjoyed going to other parts of the state to get the word out there that we were open and excited to host! February also brought more pairing events: our wine and chocolate pairings. Partnering with Frankford Bakery, we put on 2 events — both of which sold out. And toward the end of the month, Chuck lead a wine appreciation class at the AMC Museum (hosted by Kent County Tourism). It was a unique experience for all those that attended. We were thrilled to have so many people braving the cold weather months to spend time with us.
To begin March, the winery management team attended the Eastern Winery Expo in Lancaster Pennsylvania. The team enjoyed getting to know other wineries on the East Coast and see what they are doing. It was also a great opportunity for the whole team to bond, drink, and learn. Even the elusive social media manager, Sofia (yours truly) flew in for the occasion. Upon returning to the winery post-conference, we were excited to host a lunch with members of Kent County Tourism who were taking wine/travel writers on a tour of the Good Libations businesses. Such a fun group and we enjoyed reading their follow up articles online! And because a rolling stone gathers no moss, the day after that we hosted one of our most popular events: our beer/wine/chocolate/cheese pairing with Fordham and Dominion Brewing Company. We kept selling out and kept releasing more tickets. (Another similar event with Mispillion is slated for the calendar soon. Stay tuned!) On March 26 Harvest Ridge Winery was honored as owners, Chuck and Chris Nunan were awarded the Trailblazer Award from the Kent Economic Partnership. It came with a trophy and a letter from the Governor!
March came in like a lion and (for us) went out like a lion as we closed the month with our Food Truck Competition. The 2-day event was wet for one of the days — but despite the sloppy mess was a hug hit and raised $4000 for Operation Whitetail.
In April we kicked off our wine club and offered people the opportunity to sign up for the club at our first Dinner in the Vineyard event. With the warmer weather also came wine festival season so we rallied the staff, gathered the supplies and worked to make sure we could not only hold down the fort AT the winery, but also send people to the various wine festivals around the area. Throughout the spring and summer we hit many festivals including Fordham’s R2Hop2, St. Michael’s, National Harbor Fest, and King Farm Fest — to name a few.
In May we worked further with Painted Stave Distilling to help them produce Harvest Grappa. Using our grape pommace, they produced a grappa which we helped to bottle (and, of course, sample). We hosted a Spa Day at the winery the day before Mother’s Day and invited people to come, get massages, pedicures, etc. and then stay for our second Vineyard Dining Series Dinner: an Italian themed dinner. Later in the month we hosted our first Uncorked Canvas event. The extreme popularity of this event continues as we have since booked other events with Uncorked Canvas as well as PaintNite.
We were honored that our winemaker, Milan, was the first winemaker featured in the Shorevines Winemaker Series — an online video segment that highlights wineries in the area. He did Harvest Ridge proud! (To see the video, you can go here.) We rounded out May with our Beat the Beaches Memorial Day Barbeque event. Our buddies at Backyard Louie’s came to cook so that those that wanted to avoid beach traffic could come eat, drink wine, and relax instead. During this month we also hosted our first Wine Club Pick Up Party — members enjoyed hors d’oeurvres and the opportunity to talk to our owner and winemaker while picking up their 3 pack of wine.
In June we offered the first of 3 Wine Culture Classes — giving our customers the opportunity to learn about wine in a fun, laid-back, and (most importantly) a non-intimidating environment. Lindsey Pollard led the group as they examined the difference between several Harvest Ridge Wines and gained some insight into wine through tasting exercises. The rest of June warmed up with more festivals as well as the introduction of our corn-hole Friday nights and our Food and Music Events.
July began with a bang with our 2-day 4th of July Celebration as we brought in Backyard Louie’s and Wandering Cart Food Truck to cook and Ashley Mitchell Band and Adam Murray to perform. We enjoyed hosting a Sangria Day mid-month allowing customers to choose their wine as we mixed their sangria. It was a refreshing way to spend a hot afternoon. Jim Rezac and Jason Hurd joined us for some Food and Music events and things got romantic as we had our first couple (well… that we know of) get engaged during a visit to the winery!
During the dog days of August the Harvest Ridge team cooled off by taking on Painted Stave’s Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for ALS. It took a whole lotta ice. We think Chuck got a kick out of pushing certain people under the icy water. We enjoyed challenging Fenwick Wine Cellars and Rep. Spieglman — both of whom were great sports and joined in the reindeer games to support the good cause. Things got smokey as we hosted a “Smokin’ in the Vines” event with John Hay cigars and smoked foods (with Mean Green Smokin’ Cuisine). We closed out the month by celebrating Labor Day with food and music on the last (unofficial) Saturday and Sunday of Summer.
September was relatively quiet… as we battened down the hatches in preparation for our big STOMP event that had been over a year in the making. Hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, vendors, participants, and supporters made this an amazingly fun, sticky, hot, and successful day. We were able to donate $10,000 to the oncology program at AI duPont Hospital for Children. Mark your calendars as we will be doing it again next year on September 19!
We didn’t have much time to breath as we, along with the Lion’s Club, hosted a FUNdraiser for victims of the Marydel tornado early in October. In October we also get the chance to celebrate local food and drink with the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival (always a fun event!) and a brunch hosted at the winery with fellow Delaware Wineries Association members Fenwick Wine Cellars and Painted Stave Distilling that helped to kick off Restaurant Week. We hosted 2 weddings and a couple of seasonal Halloween events with bonfires, mulled wine (aka FANGria), and spooky stories.
And of course, November brought us to our 1st birthday. A great milestone in any business. We were so glad to have so many of our loyal customers come to the event where Sen. Lawson presented Chuck with an official proclamation declaring November 1 Harvest Ridge Winery Day in Delaware. There was cake, food, wine, music. We also invited our wine club members to kick off the holidays with a pick up party where they could get their wine packs with special seasonal wines. One of the biggest honors we received this year was on November 7th at the Kent County Tourism Luncheon. Our fearless leader, Chuck, was awarded the event’s biggest honor: Tourism Person of the Year. Chuck was supposed to be on vacation with his wife, Chris, that day. Some finagling had to happen to make sure he was there to accept the award!
During this month, we also partnered with Doc MacGrogan’s for the first time for a tasting event at their place. We also began working with a distributor so select restaurants can carry our wines. (Doc Magrogan’s in Dover Downs and Caffe Gelato in Newark, DE being two of them.) November ended with our first movie night– a family-friendly, holiday season viewing of ELF!
With December just underway, we look forward to all this month has in store: Christmas parties and parades, time with family and friends, cozy afternoons with food and music, and ending the year in style on December 31 with our Speakeasy New Vintage Eve party! (For more on that, go here!)
In 2014, it bears noting that, in addition to the Trailblazer Award in March and the Tourism Person of the Year Award in November, we also racked up 41 (Yes. 41) medals for our wines in competition. 2 Double Gold, 2 Gold, 18 Silver, and 19 Bronze. These medals (plus the fact that wine is flying off our shelves) is a testament to how hard our winemaker, Milan, and manager, Chip, worked both in the vineyard and production facility to produce a quality product.
365 days. Over 75 events, 43 awards, 15+ wines released, and more than $15,000 donated to community and charity causes. 2014 was an outstanding year and one we look forward to outdoing in 2015.