Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Hippo Highlights Candia Vineyards in New Hampshire

from Manchester, NH alternaive newspaper, The Hippo
How to get your dream job
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Candia Vineyards
702 High St.
Candia, NH 03034-2040
Phone 603-867-9751

Owning a winery “absolutely is” a dream job, said Robert Dabrowski of Candia Vineyards, 702 High St. in Candia.

“For me, it’s everything. It’s the wine-making and the growing and the agriculture. All of that,” Dabrowski said. He made his first wine in 1981. There was no Internet back then. He educated himself with library books.

Candia Vineyards is part of a 1760s farm property. Dabrowski, a Manchester native, started planting in 1999. It has “taken hard work and experimentation,” he said.

He did test plantings in 1997 and 1998. The vines are started with 10-inch cuttings and take five years to get into full production — “That’s assuming that you don’t rip the vine out to begin with because you change your mind and want to try another variety,” which he did, Dabrowski said. Now he has 600 vines in full production.

“I brought a lot of new varieties to the state that had been developed out west but didn’t exist here,” Dabrowski said. He’s mainly a “one-man show,” although he gets help with some tasks.

“I was a financial analyst for many years ... as that industry deteriorated, I was continuing to build my vineyard,” Dabrowski said. He started selling wines in 2005.

Dabrowski said his previous career is a “huge asset in wine-making, ironically.” As an analyst, all you should be doing is planning. Wine involves a lot of planning, foresight and making decisions that will affect the wine months down the road. People think he must have gone to UNH to study agriculture, but he has not, which is true of many winemakers, he said.

How do you become a winemaker in a poor economy?

“Don’t give up your dream, but don’t give up your day job either,” Dabrowski said. It’s very capital-intensive and a very competitive industry. For most people, it takes hard work, perseverance, and a lot of experimentation.

Dabrowski said he has a slight advantage since he’s been enjoying wine since college — he would drink a glass of wine while friends were at the keg. He also knows wine — he’s been asked to judge a few competitions.

There’s an agricultural aspect to winemaking, but the business component is also important — “Business is business,” Dabrowski said. Dabrowski doesn’t sell outside the state — in part because there are different legal requirements for each state, and as a small producer he sells everything in state anyway.

Family, loyal customers and supporters —in particular Jeff Raymond of Amherst — are important to Candia Vineyards’ success, Dabrowski wrote later in an e-mail.

If you want to visit Candia Vineyards, just call ahead, 867-9751.