Saturday, April 13, 2013

The end is near....

Gotcha!  No, this isn't a prophetic post on the end times.  I'll leave that up to what ever your personal belief system predicts.  However, construction at Aaronap Cellars is rapidly coming to a close!  The contractors installed the doors and trim earlier this week, including the massively heavy 2 hour fire door that the town required.  Have to say that I'm impressed that the door is weighted & hung to gently close on its own without being pushed.  The electricians came on Friday morning and completed the outlet, switches, lights, and fire/CO detector wiring.  Friday afternoon, the floor was sealed.  I selected a good old garage epoxy sealer with gravel grit on top to give some traction in case a little water or wine gets spilled.  The guys went to it with gusto and in fact, didn't give the electricians time to finish the last wiring of the internet/phone outlet!  There will have to be one last quick for the electricians next week to finish that.

Unfortunately, the floor is still curing so pictures will have to wait...until the plumbing is done and construction is finished!  We're anticipating the plumbers to arrive Monday or Tuesday to install the sinks.  A quick Board of Health in-construction inspection, and then it's up to me to move all the equipment back into the winery, hang the signage, fill the soap & towel dispensers, and we're ready for the final Board of Health inspection!

It's hard to believe, but I'm anticipating that we can start fermenting our first wines in early May.  Our unique dessert wine, Forest Gold, will be first up, followed by a Sparkling Cranberry.  Stay tuned for details!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Wall Paneling & Ceiling Paint as Construction Continues

Loyal readers will notice that I skipped a week or two of recapping the winery construction work.  Not that no progress was being made, but the focus of the basement project shifted briefly from the winery room to the rest of the basement as wallboard and plaster veneer work was being completed.  Once that was done, the guys could get started on installing the FRP wall panels in the winery.  We chose FRP panels to provide a durable, nonabsorbent, and washable surface to please the local Board of Health officials, but they do have the advantage of reducing the scope of the painting project!  The FRP panel installation was largely completed by last Friday.  Since the plaster ceiling had cured and the floor area was completely bare, I decided to leap in and paint the winery room ceiling this weekend.  This was a task that I haven't exactly been eagerly anticipating because it's been awhile since I've painted a ceiling and the last ceiling paint project left mental scars that still give me nightmares (trust me--a long story best left for recollections over several beers).  However, I was very pleased to find this situation was a complete charm.  I started on Saturday with a final sanding touch up and dust removal, taping off the new wall panels, and then priming the ceiling.  As in all of my home improvement projects, that took about twice as long as expected and left me very tired and muscle worn by early evening.  Staring up at a ceiling and pushing a paint roller around uses some interesting muscles that apparently don't get used very often in normal life.  But I must give credit to the plaster guys from Custom Contracting--they know how to properly plaster a ceiling and leave it ready for paint!

Sunday morning dawned, and after popping some ibuprofen, I headed back to the basement to start the ceiling paint.  Four hours later, my neck muscles were sore but the ceiling was completed.  And this morning, I'm pleased to share some pictures that show the dramatic change in the winery room.

We're getting really close to finishing the project as all that remains is floor sealing, installation of the 3-bay and handwash sinks and ejector sump pump, and finish electrical work.  I still need to paint the window trim, but that won't take that long (knock on wood).


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Day at the MA State House: Ag Day 2013

Today turned out to be a rare treat.  It was Ag Day 2013 at the Massachusetts State House and I decided to attend and support my fellow MA farm wineries in our quest for continued political recognition and support.  My lovely wife Shawna even volunteered to join me and lend her years of politicking to the cause as well.

We left early anticipating some ugly Boston traffic, but actually arrived a little early.  The scene was a little chaotic--as probably expected from trying to corral such a large and diverse group of agriculture-related associations and businesses.  We finally located the Mass Winery exhibit table and our fellow winery owners and established our plan of action.  Shawna and I took off to meet with our local state House/Senate representatives and (after getting a little lost in the rabbit warren that is the MA State House) ran into 2 very different receptions.  I have to give credit to Senator Eileen Donoghue and her office staff.  Not only had I received a prompt response from my email of last week asking for a brief appointment, but Deputy Chief of Staff Kirsten Centrella welcomed us with open arms by name and sat down for a brief discussion.  She's got my vote next election!  As for my local House representative, let's just say they weren't quite as cordial to meet a voter from their district.

The fun really began during the Grand Reception in the Great Hall.  Each ag association and business exhibitor had tables full of food, plants, flowers, fruit samples, etc and the attendees, legislators, and staff members descended on them like vultures!  By state law, we could not bring alcoholic beverages into the State House so we were forced to fall back on "pre-fermented" raw materials, i.e. Concord grape juice.  Brought a smile to many faces and provided the only beverage in the entire reception.  There were also an awful lot of underage FFA and 4H members attending so trying to check IDs would have been a nightmare.  Shawna and I spent the reception glad handing with state representatives and staff members, as well as other folks interested in wine.  Hopefully, we upped the attendance to our planned 2013 MA Wine Festivals!

The day culminated with a visit from Governor Deval Patrick.  Word quickly spread when he appeared at the reception and he slowly made his way down the line of tables.  His face really lit up when he came to the Mass Winery table and then fell when he realized the tasting cups were only grape juice.  We joked with him that we were playing by his rules and only he had the power to change them!  We had a robust and friendly conversation with him, got to shake his hand, and personally invited him to attend our 2013 MA Wine Festivals.  Hope to see you there Governor!

I'm sure that everyone's visit to their respective State House ends with shaking the Governor's hand....nah, didn't think so!  You'll understand why I got a little geeked to have the opportunity.  A very good day.