Friday, May 28, 2010

Ready for Randy Lee!

This week we have been welcoming visitors and recuperating from last weekends excitement as we prepare for another. Two ladies from Washington, DC interviewed William for a research piece about the challenges of young farmer's in today's environment. Another group came from a conference in Cambridge and spent some time seeing the vineyard and drinking a bottle of Joe's Cool Red.

Barbara and Alison have been in and we're getting more comfortable in the tasting room as we get more practice. The tables finally arrived and they match the bar nicely. It will be pleasant to sit by the window with a glass of wine and watch the grapes grow.

It is certainly calmer than other weeks in the past month, but there is still plenty to be done. We hired another part time worker, Tony, to help Richard finish the new vineyard. There are thousands of staples to drive and 68 rows to run wire down, not to mention fixing the end posts. The vines are growing vigorously and we're seeing the very beginning of bunches form. Another tank of Joe's Cool Red has finished fermenting and we'll rack that before the weekend.

We are also gearing up for a big weekend with Randy Lee Ashcraft and other local performers this Saturday and Sunday! If you haven't been out yet, come have a look! And if you have, come on back for the fun! We're open Memorial Day also, which will be the last chance for Grand Opening free tastings! More info on our website!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A successful weekend!

Lots going on out at the winery! The ribbon cutting last Friday was wonderful, with a good turnout, sunny weather, and lots of wine flowing. Since the opening, we have been open and ready (hours are 11-5pm Sun-Thurs and 11-6 Friday and Saturday, though we may have extended hours for events).

From our vantage point (behind the bar) everyone seemed to have fun at the ribbon cutting, and Barbara, Alison and I enjoyed talking to people and pouring wine. I was very pleased to meet Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and finally put a face to the names of many people who have helped Layton's Chance get set up. Outside the tasting room, Joe and William gave non-stop tours, while Laura kept her keen, teacher's eyes on everything. We had a second bar stationed outside where Richard, and later Jen, served tastings. See all the photos from the event here or on our facebook page. If you were there, feel free to tag yourself in our photos!

The Conners, William's sister Susan, her husband Nathan, and Grace, Claire and Gabe, came up from Jacksonville, Florida to be with the family for the grand opening. Although things had changed since their last visit (before the building was completed!), they fit in naturally and we were happy to have them. Susan posted at the welcome table for a bit on Friday, making sure people signed the photo release waivers. The kids had a ball, running in and out and all around, breathing in the excitement of the day.

We wrapped the weekend up with our second annual View of the Vineyard event. It got off to a slow start, perhaps because of the threatening clouds, but after a brief storm things cleared up. The rain drove a rush of people in to the tasting room and we were fortunate to have some help behind the bar with Nathan Conner cleaning and restocking glasses. The winery seems to be facilitating meetings with old friends, as Joe welcomed some of his high school classmates for a small reunion on Sunday. One friend had been an exchange student many years ago, and she came from Switzerland with her husband for the visit (and to visit their new grandson!)

Working hard but having fun too! Thanks to everyone who came out!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Opening Day

I'm not sure how to begin today's blog, as there's so much to share. Throughout the past days, weeks, months and years there have been many emotions- hope, excitement, anxiety, enthusiasm, and even a bit of frustration. Today, however, the air has been full of joy. Even the weather cooperated by giving us a warm, sunny day! Friends, family, neighbors, members of the business community, local politicians, fellow vintners, and plenty of new faces came out to celebrate our official opening and ribbon cutting. We thank those who joined us today and we look forward to welcoming others into the Layton's Chance community!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Final details

We are one week away from the Ribbon Cutting and the mood is surprisingly calm. Our family event this past Sunday passed very successfully. We sold our first bottle to our friend and neighbor Steele Phillips (see photo with Joe signing the bottle). William and Jennifer manned the tasting room bar, while Joe gave tours of the vineyard and winery. Laura greeted all visitors and spent the day making sure everyone had what they needed.

As a guest with some family members of my own, we were extremely pleased with the event and excited to see the Laytons reach this stage- the end of many years of hard work and the beginning of many more!

This week was spent following up on details such adding and arranging inventory, putting up signs in the tasting room, practicing with the cash register, etc. Jen and William led a training session on Tuesday night for everyone to learn the basics of working in the tasting room. Our two new part-time employees, Alison Moore and Barbara Bailey, joined us for the evening. I hope we didn't overwhelm them with wine stories!

In case you aren't following us on Facebook, we've got an ongoing competition to see who can offer the best name for our wine club. We'll set up a point system where members accumulate points by buying wine, and the points can be traded for prizes, discounts, or more wine! Send your entry to by May 18th to be considered. Winner gets a free case of Layton's Chance wine!

A reminder about our opening events- the ribbon cutting will be next Friday, May 21st, at 12:30pm, and Grand Opening Weekend with music and festivities will be May 29th and 30th. We look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Picnic and play!

Between the landscaping and the outdoor furniture, we've really spruced up the outside of the winery. We received some Adirondak and rocking chairs from Wright's Market, and positioned them perfectly for viewing the vineyard at sunset. We also have picnic tables and a children's playground so bring your family and stay for a while! The tasting room will have light snacks available daily and sandwiches on weekends, but people are welcome to bring picnic lunches of their own. Our wine goes well with everything, even Maryland blue crabs!

Exciting to us also is the arrival and set-up of our point of sale/cash register. In addition to wine we'll also offer goods from several local artists such as handmade jewelry, baskets, purses and pottery. We're even working with a soapmaker from Talbot County to make custom wine soaps! We also received a huge block of cheese from Chapel Creamery which we'll offer for our cheese plates.

Richard and Chuck finished driving posts in the new vineyard, so the next part will be putting up the cross beams. William is famous for his straight rows, and Richard has done pretty well following suit.

All the corn has been planted and the men are moving on to soybeans. The sunny weather of April has been extremely conducive to planting, so things moved along quickly.

On Tuesday a representative from the Dorchester Health Department paid a visit and helped us get our kitchen up to par. It was especially exciting for me because the inspector turned out to be a familiar face, one not seen for 15 years! The Layton's Chance community is wider and more encompassing than I could have imagined.

Laura and I have really been working on getting the tasting room ready and Barbara will come over this afternoon to help set up the displays. The wine racks are being delivered as we speak, and we'll have to get them filled and ready. There’s still plenty to do but we’re happy to be doing it!