"Thanks, Dad. We love you."
The winery is celebrating our 40th anniversary this year thanks to the hard work and dedication of Art and Joyce Hunt (and scores of team members) over the decades. My parents hadn't planned to go into the wine industry – their plan was to take over the family farm and grow grapes. But the grape market crash in the early 1970s forced a change of plans. My dad's MacGyver-like skills all came in very handy (in a different lifetime he would have been an inventor/builder). During the early years in the 1980s, he moved whole buildings and retrofitted old barns, poured concrete, installed plumbing and electricity, modified and jerry-rigged all kinds of old machinery, and pioneered cool climate field grafting with a friend at Cornell – all of this in addition to learning the essential skills of winemaking. And, to his total surprise, the wines he made won awards!
I think the people who know my dad well would say that he is a deep thinker, enormously generous, truly kind, eminently competent, and humble to a fault. In great contrast to our culture which is trending ever more towards one of immediate gratification, he thinks and acts for the long-term. Thirty years ago, he decided to plant hundreds of black walnut trees in a hay field; the wood from that walnut grove might help pay his grandchildren’s college costs in another decade.
As a volunteer firefighter, he’s been on call every day, 24-hours a day, for 45 years. He can thread a 20-ton firetruck though a needle on a steep incline in an ice storm on the edge of a gully while a house is burning. Over and over, he drops whatever he’s doing to run and help – fires, floods, car accidents. He is immensely generous with his time, his expertise, and his stories. (O lord, the stories he has!)
My dad drilled the idea that "we compete together" into our heads from the time we were born. His focus on taking care of others and working together helped lay the foundation for the collaborative, vibrant wine industry in New York State that is going gangbusters today – more than 500 wineries strong and still growing!
Thanks, Dad. We love you.
Happy father’s day.
~ Suzanne Hunt
Daughter, Co-owner and Director of Sustainability