Down East 2013 ©
Some Maine businesses begin under the best of circumstances, others under the worst.
In 2006 two high-powered coworkers at Fidelity Investments in Boston named John Tynan and Bettina Doulton discovered they shared complementary dreams after she was diagnosed with cancer. “I’d had a bad doctor’s appointment, and I asked John, ‘What are things you always wanted to do before you died?’ He said, ‘I always wanted to own a vineyard.’ I had always wanted to go run a small business. John looked at me and said, ‘Well, there is a vineyard for sale in Maine.’ ”
The property was the Cellardoor Winery, a sixty-eight-acre farm in Lincolnville owned by John and Stephanie Clapp and known locally for its dessert wines. As business-savvy executives, Tynan and Doulton immediately recognized the brand’s unrealized potential. “It was a great opportunity to take the experiences we had had in corporate life,” explains Doulton, “and use them to manage a small business.” Within a day of closing on the property, they hired Phi Home Designs, a high-end general contractor in Rockport, to begin a detailed restoration of the vineyard’s two-hundred-year-old post and beam barn.
Tynan and Doulton also went looking for a high-visibility outlet to showcase their new wines. They found their future “villa” in a dilapidated building at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 90 in Rockport. In keeping with their commitment to promote Maine artisans, they hired Dan Bloomer, of Winslow, to craft a custom staircase consisting of whimsically cut balusters. Janet Redfield, of Lincolnville, designed stained glass windows to match the plum-colored wallpaper selected by Marcy van der Kieft, of Margo Moore Interiors of Camden. Blue Dolphin Antiques in Northport even salvaged a grand Tiffany chandelier to adorn the new tasting bar.
Cellardoor’s lavish renovations represent the owners’ vision of marketing the wine lifestyle as much as wine itself. “To me, vineyards have always represented the perfect place,” explains Tynan, “where people come from all over, let down their guard, and are willing to try things, to discuss, and learn.”
Whereas many new businesses seek a low profile, Cellardoor has embraced the midcoast community with a series of spectacular events. Last June it hosted Pop the Cork, a ritzy, art-laden benefit (complete with living statues) for the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Its Romp and Stomp Grape Harvest Festival drew five thousand people for a weekend of food, music, hot-air balloon rides — and, of course, wine.
If You Go
The Cellardoor Villa (207-236-2654) is at 47 West Street in Rockport. The vineyard (207-763-4478)
is at 367 Youngtown Road in Lincolnville.