A Generous Pour
Measuring Success Through Community Outreach
Located seven miles from the geographic center of the Granite State, just a stone’s throw away from Lake Winnipesaukee, nestled in the picturesque town of Meredith, New Hampshire, sits Hermit Woods Winery, where owners and operators Bob Manley, Ken Hardcastle, and Chuck Lawrence strive to produce superb wines from high quality ingredients. They learned early on that grapes do not grow well in New Hampshire soil, so the decision was made to change things up and use as much locally-sourced fruit—like apples, blackberries, and raspberries—and honey to create their dry, award-winning wine.
Their unique name pays homage to Joseph Plummer, a local 19th century hermit who lived a simple and quiet life out in the woods of Meredith. But when it came time to choose a logo, all three were adamant about not featuring a hermit. Eventually, their designer found the snail logo, created by Susan Riecken, in a book of rubber stamps from 1978. The snail, a slow and methodical creature, was the perfect representation for their wines, which require a slow process to be aged to perfection.
In 2013, after years of operating out of Bob’s house—even transforming his master bedroom into a tasting room—it was time to find a new home for the winery’s ever-expanding business. “It was a hobby that got out of control,” laughed Ken and Bob as they described the expansion. The trio found a 5,000 square foot post and beam building in downtown Meredith that needed lots of love. With a vision in mind, and generous support from the Meredith Village Savings Bank and Belknap Economic Development Council, they launched a successful kickstarter campaign that helped them turn their dreams into a reality.
Their new space features all L.E.D. lighting and heat pump heating and air-conditioning to help keep their energy footprint very low, allowing for the future placement of solar panels on their south facing roof, which they hope will someday supply the majority of their power needs. As part of their business model, they provide a living wage salary for all of their employees and stay constantly engaged with the Meredith community.
To give back to the community, Hermit Woods Winery recently partnered with local artist Stephen Hodecker and the Lake Winnipesaukee Association to create the winery’s Winnipesaukee Rosé. Ten percent of all sales from this collaboration wine go to support the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, a non-profit organization interested in preserving and protecting the natural resources of Lake Winnipesaukee. The wine and the initiative have been a huge success, outselling all of the winery’s other wines almost two to one.
Hermit Woods Winery has always believed that the success of their business is tied directly to the success of the community. According to Bob, “We never got into the wine business to get rich. The winery has been a real anchor, not to just us, but to the community as well, helping to drive traffic to a struggling Main Street, which helps other businesses grow. Our measure of success as a business takes a lot more into account than just making money.”
On most days you’ll find Bob, Ken, and Chuck walking around the tasting room, greeting guests and happily explaining their passion and business. From novice to expert, there’s a wine to fit everyone’s palate. In just a few short years, Hermit Woods Winery has won numerous awards and was recently featured in Food & Wine Magazine as one of the top 500 wineries in the United States, the only New Hampshire winery to ever be featured and only one of two wineries in New England.
Today, Hermit Woods Winery has become a staple in Meredith and in the wine community. They are open seven days a week, boast over 400 club members, and welcome people from all over the world. With an outdoor patio, tasting room, and now a newly built small café that offers food, wine, and beer from local brewers, it’s easy to spend all afternoon perusing the racks of wine and the accoutrements, dreaming of sipping on that crisp, dry, and refreshing wine you just purchased, down by the lake.