Turtle Creek Winery in Lincoln has no visitor center or tasting room, yet owner Kip Kumler regularly sells out his stock through local retail stores and restaurants, wine share subscriptions, farmers markets, phone orders, and visits by appointment. Kumler, a Harvard Business School graduate who was previously an electrical engineer and consultant for Arthur D. Little, is celebrating his 20th anniversary in business.
Q. Were you always interested in winemaking?
A. I've enjoyed drinking wine for a long time, but before I started the winery, I had no particular knowledge of how it was made. I read my way into the field. I wasn't trained for this, but I very much enjoy it now.
Q. Was it difficult to get started?
A. First of all, I'm very fortunate to live in a town that is so supportive. I grow a little less than 1,000 vines at the winery, but the main vineyard is a mile from here on conservation land with 4,000 vines. Without the town, I couldn't do what I do.
Q. How much wine do you produce?
A. Normally, 1,000 cases each year. I have no ambition to be larger because then I'd be managing more people. Now, I have one full-time person and several others who help part-time working the vineyard and in sales.
Q. What is your biggest challenge?
A. The only way to maintain quality was to reduce the yield and take exceptional care of the vines, because growing them is such a major challenge. At present time, 30 percent of the total production comes from our fruit for classic wines – cabernet franc, riesling, pinot noir, and chardonnay. I augment my grapes with syrah and cabernet sauvignon purchased from growers in California and the Finger Lakes in New York who harvest according to my criteria. I have 10 different labels, and that's as much as I can do for our size.
Q. Do you have any expansion plans?
A. The winery is where I live, so it requires a little bit of compromise. For now, I accommodate people's interest through tours and tastings, which are listed on the website. In addition to promoting the wines, I feel a sense of obligation to educate people and answer questions. The idea, though, is to have fun. After all, wine-drinking is fundamentally a pleasurable activity best enjoyed in the company of friends and family.
For more information, call 781-259-9976 or visit turtlecreekwine.com.
Cindy Cantrell can be reached at email@example.com.