Word is getting out.
We opened The Crush Pad on Memorial Day weekend to quiet conditions and small groups of people who ventured out to this new place called "Apollo". Many people thought the winery was named due to some connection between Derry's own Alan Shepard and our Derry winery. They quickly find out that it is my family name "Appolo". In fact, since I am "Michael A. Appolo III", it has been my family name for 3 generations. My hunch is that it was changed when my grandfather entered this country as a teenager. Many of our Greek visitors agree that it was likely shortened.
I have lived in Derry for 22 years... at this farm for 15 of those. Business at The Crush Pad was respectable in the first few weeks of the season. At first, though, I was wondering if people would see it like Faith and I saw it - a beautiful place to try new wines, a place to unwind, a place of calm. I wondered if people would "get it".
As the summer progressed, we released 6 new wines and the word began to spread. There are wines here for every sort of taste - dry, off-dry, sweet - and every color - white, rosé, red - oaked and un-oaked. People who have driven past this farm over the last 15 years have been stopping by to see what this is all about. They have been watching the clearing and planting, the house upgrades, and wondered what was happening. Most comment that they had no idea that The Crush Pad was back here - in the vineyard - even when they were familiar with the evolution.
We have had many international guests over the summer and many from all over the country. Many I have met, but many more that I have not. Many of our neighbors and Derry Residents have stopped by and found that new place to bring friends. Whenever I could spare the time, I would stop what I was doing and give tours of the vineyards. Most people remarked that they had never set foot in a vineyard - or only had during harvest. Our extremely limited use of fungicides (no insecticides, no herbicides) makes the vineyard safe any time of the year - for people and their/our pups.
I can't say enough good things about my staff. Kelsey, Michaela, Liz, Terri, and Anna. They take care of business when I'm called away or need to be working in the winery. I have only heard compliments about how well they take care of customers. The online reviews bear that out as well. China Girl (Faith) has also been an outstanding partner - opening on Sundays while I'm at the farmers market, thinking up wonderful water infusions, and generally just being there for me. Right now Faith is a harvest widow while I attend to my grapes and wines. Faith is the florist, decorator, and makes The Crush Pad a much more beautiful place than I could ever manage.
The unofficial end of summer was Labor Day weekend. Frankly, I was astounded by the amount of business we did last weekend. We had nearly twice the number of guests we had any other weekend this summer. People are returning - in several cases many times bringing their friends and family who are visiting from out of town. People from Boston are driving up because they have heard from their friends about this quiet place in the vines were there is great wine.
Today we announced that we are moving to a Harvest Season Schedule. I need the time on Mondays and Fridays to work in the winery. We will be open Saturdays and Sundays until the wines are all underway. We plan to resume a normal 4 day schedule once we have everything buttoned up for the fall.
We're figuring out our indoor plans. I will announce them once they are finalized. But for now, I am busy making many new wines this season... but you will have to wait until next year to try them.
But if you ask, I will tell you a little about them...only if you visit. Bring your friends. You will be glad you did.