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The Rural We: Elyse Sadtler

Elyse Sadtler and her husband, Dan Cloutier, who works for the United Nations in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, met in Brooklyn. They found living in New York to be overstimulating, so they moved to Kent in March of 2015. (Cloutier commutes every day to the city.) A certified teacher, Sadtler works at the Washington Primary School as a literacy tutor and is a freelance writer for the Lakeville Journal.  She’s also an internationally certified natural henna artist. This summer, she has made a concerted effort to turn her love of henna (temporary body art) into a real business. If her schedule of events is any indication, she has already achieved that goal.

I got into henna in middle school. I had a friend whose parents were from India. I was at her house and her mom sits us on the floor and pulls out the Mendhi (a form of body art from ancient India, in which decorative designs are created on a person’s body using a paste created from the powdered dry leaves of the henna plant). I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I asked my mom if I could get my own henna supplies. I stopped doing it in college, but as a reporter I covered an event about henna at the Kent Library, and picked it back up again. My company is called Henna by Elyse.

I’m self taught — watched a lot of YouTube channels. I gravitate toward traditional Indian and Moroccan henna designs. The henna paste is made from henna, essential oil and sugar to help it stick to the skin. I do designs on hands, feet, arms and legs using a squeeze bottle with interchangeable tips. Or I make a henna cone, which is like a little pastry bag. I get the henna powder from a manufacturer in Pakistan.

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to do a whole hand. At private appointments, I pick elements from different designs, or I tell my clients to create a Pinterest board of what they like. At festivals, I bring a design book, so people can go through it and pick a design.

On the hand, a design will last from 10 days to 2 weeks, if you don’t constantly wash your hands. You can rinse it off with warm water, but you’re supposed to let it flake off.

My first major event was the New Preston Summer Stroll. I just did the sidewalk sale in Kent, and stores have hosted me, as well. I have a bunch of events coming up: I’ll be at the farmers market in Washington Depot, Conn. on Saturday (Aug. 19), and I’m giving henna workshops at the Kent Memorial Library on Aug. 23, The Montessori School for ASAP in Washington on Sept. 30 and at Twin Star in New Milford, Conn. on Oct. 6.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/13/17 at 12:35 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Michael Beck

Michael Beck, a former patent lawyer with a master’s degree in biochemistry, has been the executive director of the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Mass. since 2014. Beck had been a part-time Richmond, Mass. resident and a trustee of the BBG since 2012 when the directorship became available. He felt it was a no-brainer for him to apply for a full-time job in a part of the country he and his husband had fallen in love with at first sight.

I’m originally from Germany, and came to the U.S. for college, where I studied chemistry as an undergrad and then earned a graduate degree in biochemistry. But eventually I decided science wasn’t for me, so I switched gears, got a law degree and practiced patent law at several large companies.

After a while, I felt I needed a change. My husband and I already had a place in Richmond, since 2004, and were using it as a part-time, holiday and weekend getaway. So when this opportunity presented itself, I became a full-time resident, with my husband joining me on weekends. I was new to the nonprofit world when I joined the board, but was interested in plants and planting.

We had been living in New York City and had friends with a pace in Okemo, Vermont who we loved visiting. We both love skiing; the only thing we didn’t like was how far away it was from NYC. Our friends knew the area and recommended that we stop in the Berkshires on our way home. It was all by chance, but we really fell in love with the area immediately. Then we researched the area and found out about all the cultural organizations here. We took a leap of faith a year or two later, we found our house pretty much immediately, and here we are 12 years later.

When the Garden was looking for a director, I felt comfortable enough with the organization by that time that it was a logical next step. The board is a very diverse group of people; they’re not all horticulturalists, but they have a healthy appreciation of gardens. We have people that work here with a deep knowledge in that area, which allows me to focus on the management.

The biggest thing I’m working on right now is the renovation of the “Center House.” It’s the oldest and largest building at the BBG. It’s a late 18th-century farmhouse, and one of the oldest buildings in Stockbridge. We broke ground on it after last year’s Harvest Festival, and we’re cautiously optimistic that it will be open for this year’s Festival. We expanded the footprint a little, but didn’t want to overwhelm the garden. The public space includes a library, a classroom, a kitchen and gallery space. We added a second floor and office space, so we can grow, expand and hire more staff.

It’s been a real crazy ride; you don’t think about focusing on buildings when you’re running a garden, but the fact of the matter is that the 15 acres are pretty much fully developed, so there’s not a lot of changes going on in that area. We have such a short season and the grounds are basically closed after Columbus Day. But with the new building, we can host art exhibitions, cooking classes and workshops all year round.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/09/17 at 09:42 AM • Permalink

The Rural We: David Adkins

David Adkins is an Artist Associate at the Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG) in Pittsfield, Mass., where he’s performed in 25 productions and is currently the director of the intern acting program. He began his acting career as a teen at the McDonogh School in his native Maryland, but left theater behind during his three years at Dartmouth College. He credits his 1985 internship at BTG for renewing his love for performing. Adkins has worked on and off Broadway, in resident theaters across the country, and as a television guest star, where you may have seen him in Homeland, The Blacklist, The Good Wife, The Americans, Happy-ish and many others. He’s appearing now in Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo (Zoo story) at BTG’s Unicorn Stage in Stockbridge.

In 1985 I was an English major at Dartmouth when I came here for the first time, to what was then known as the Berkshire Theatre Festival, as an apprentice. I’d done theater in high school and was passionate about it, but I really felt like I wasn’t going to be an actor. But that summer, I had people telling me “You have some talent – have you thought about getting more training?” I hadn’t thought of it as a career, but by the end of the summer I’d gotten into Juilliard. I was full speed ahead after that and BTF was instrumental in my transition.

I continued to come back, the following year as intern actor, then a children’s theater actor, then in a non-equity company for two more years. The year I graduated, I made my professional debut in The Middle Ages at BTF and I’ve worked here on and off ever since. My partner, Corinna May, and I are NYC residents, but we have a place in Tyringham, Mass. and we’re here on weekends and when we’re working up here. She’s worked at BTG and at Barrington Stage, and has been a company member at Shakespeare & Company for 25 seasons, where she’ll star in The Wharton Comedies in about 2 weeks. We plan on transitioning here in the near future.

“Zoo Story” photo by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.

I’m also director of the intern acting program this summer. When I was at Juilliard, I’d spend the years studying and the summers at BTG practicing what I’d learned. This is my opportunity to give back to the theater that was fundamental in my development as an actor.

So many TV shows film in NYC now, it’s thriving there, so I don’t have to travel very far. As a younger man I was cast as either a leading man or the best friend. Now, as my hair is graying, I’m cast as businessmen, doctors and lawyers a lot more. I played an art dealer recently on The Blacklist, and a therapist on Homeland. The challenges of TV acting are different. There’s a lot more rehearsal when you have a long theater run, and generally you repeat the same movement every night. When shooting a TV show, every time can be like a rehearsal. You have to be able to repeat yourself, but it moves so much faster because every minute costs money. And because I’m coming in on a set where I don’t know anyone, there’s a lot more pressure.

I really feel the energy of the Berkshires in a way that I don’t experience elsewhere. There’s an artistic enthusiasm from all the different area organizations. It’s not unrelated to the artisanal arts in the community, the same is true of the local farmers and brewers. The artistic culture is palpable and vibrant. We all support each other in that communal creative energy and spirit. I’ve seen virtually every actor who comes to BTG end up picking up a real estate guide when they’re here. Everyone feels the magic.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/02/17 at 11:28 AM • Permalink

The Rural We: Rowan Willigan

What do you do when you have a surfeit of talent, energy and interests in a long list of creative realms? If you’re Rowan Willigan, a dancer-choreographer-artist-photographer-teacher and food blogger (we’ve probably left out a few other activities), you do them all. Red Hook, New York born and raised, Willigan says “I’m primarily an artist, but a creative-minded person who does a lot of things and tries to find a creative avenue for all the interests I have.”

Sometimes doing all those things can be difficult and overwhelming, but I don’t feel like I have any other choice — I’m so happy doing all them. I love to be creative and work with people.

I danced with Solas an Lae, an Irish dance school in the area, from early childhood until high school graduation. I also performed contemporary dance with the company. Then I went to Bard for Studio Arts. It’s the last place I though I would go for college, but it was perfect for me.

I am the artistic director of The D’Amby Project, a dance company and school in Red Hook. We offer dance classes beginning with traditional Irish training and advancing to contemporary. We perform locally and have traveled locally, in Boston, and internationally. I also teach an art class for kids at the dance studio.

My artwork is mostly abstract painting and drawing on a large scale. I just got a great opportunity through Bard to paint a bunch of murals at the Freehand NY Hotel, which will be opening at 23rd and Lexington. They’re renovating the old George Washington Hotel and I’ll be among 10 artists painting 20 to 25 murals in the guest rooms. I’ll be there for two or three weeks, and will get to live in the hotel while I’m working.

I just take any opportunity that comes my way, so I have a weirdly wide-ranging portfolio. I’ve shot a few weddings, and I love shooting dance. I also have a service through I email back and forth with a client, learn about that person’s interest, and then give sketchbook prompts to help that person jumpstart his or her creativity. I have a shop on Etsy where I sell my own artwork.

My boyfriend and I (we met at Bard) love to eat, and like to find the restaurants around here. We started a food blog because we’re always experimenting and searching out the small-operation breweries and distilleries.

I grew up in Red Hook and still live here. I’m so in love with the area, I don’t feel any desire to move away.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/24/17 at 11:34 AM • Permalink

The Rural We: Rory Block

Photo by Sergio Kurhajec

“Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly,” The New York Times has said of singer and guitarist Rory Block. Born in Princeton, N.J., Block grew up in Manhattan, where she was playing guitar by the age of 10 and sitting in on jam sessions in Washington Square Park by the time she’d reached her teens. The world finally started taking notice in the early 1990s and since then Block has received numerous honors, including five Blues Music Awards. She’s met blues legends Son House, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt and others who’ve influenced her style, and to whom she’s paid tribute with her “Mentor Series” albums. After more than 20 highly acclaimed releases, the Chatham, N.Y. resident is working on a new “Mentor Series” project featuring the music of women blues artists, and has curated the Gospel & Blues Fest taking place at PS21 from July 28–30.

I grew up in NYC but always spent time in the country every summer. In the early 1970s, my husband and I began driving around looking for greener pastures and happened upon a little real estate office in Hudson, N.Y. Lying on the agent’s desk was a fascinating photo of a grand old house well beyond the budget and we ended up buying it. I love 200-year-old houses and history, and there is much of that to be appreciated in this beautiful area.

We live just two buildings away from the Old Methodist Church of Chatham Center. Over the course of 10 or more years, it sat empty. Then one day it came on the market and we jumped at the opportunity to save the building. I can’t tell you how many people have said how glad they are to see the building in use again! This is our third year and we have hosted many wonderful events each summer, the final one this year being the Choir Fest on Sunday, July 30 at 2 p.m. Sponsored by PS21, it is free to the public, features wonderful local choirs, and will be followed by a reception for the choirs and the public. It will be a really special event not to be missed!

I am in the midst of a rather large undertaking —
tribute recordings to early founding masters of the blues which I call “The Mentor Series.” Thus far I have completed six tributes, dedicated entirely to rediscovered blues masters who I met in the 1960s when they were brought through the city for concerts. These six will eventually be re-released as a box set. All of them will be available at the PS21 blues-gospel weekend.

I am currently embarking on The Mentor Series 2, tributes to great early women of the blues, which I am calling “Power Women of the Blues.” We are now working on the first, a tribute to Bessie Smith. I hope to have six CDs dedicated to some of the most beloved women blues artists by the completion of the project.

PS21 (Performance Spaces for the 21st Century), asked if I would like to put together a blues-themed weekend for them, and I was very excited to get involved. PS21 brings a wide variety of quality events to our area — dance, film, music and educational workshops — and this was a wonderful opportunity to participate.

As part of our PS21 blues-gospel weekend, I will be performing with phenomenal lap steel player Cindy Cashdollar on Saturday night, July 29. We call ourselves “Sisters of Slide” and we like to say “we’ve teamed up to rock your world!” If you like slide, please consider taking the slide workshop in the afternoon and then coming to our show in the evening.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/18/17 at 07:25 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Chan Lowe

Chan Lowe, a syndicated editorial cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other papers, has recently joined the staff of the Berkshire Eagle. He spent 33 years at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The fact that he is now sharing his talent and skills as the deputy editorial page editor is a coup for the paper and for the community, considering that there are only about 45 cartoonists remaining at papers nationwide, and he’s one of the best. But it’s the icing on the cake for the Williams alum, who always wanted to move back to the Berkshires.

I am so thrilled to be working for the Eagle. What I do has more of an impact here. As an example, I was part of a small contingent from the Eagle who marched in the 4th of July parade in Pittsfield, and as we walked past people, they were applauding us. They got real exited because we were representing their hometown paper. I never got that when working with a paper that had a circulation of 400,000 on Sundays. There, the paper was just another institution. There may be fewer people here, but what we do matters a lot more.

Lowe in Pittsfield’s 4th of July parade. Photo by Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle.

Everyone thinks I was hired to be a cartoonist, but I was actually hired to be deputy page editor. I write editorials, as a member of a two-person team on behalf of the publisher and owners, to articulate a regional point of view. I produce a local cartoon for the Eagle once a week. I’ve done two so far, one on Berkshire County arts funding, the other on the Eversource rate hike. My job is to observe the issues, synthesize them, and filter things back to the readers.

The entire newspaper industry has the Eagle under the spotlight because of what the new owners are doing. It’s so refreshing to be working for a newspaper where morale is high. New faces keep showing up. It helps to have a wholly-owned company. No one’s saying “where’s the return on my investment?” The owners can afford to take the long view. I’m really impressed with their commitment and the quality of the changes they’re making.

What do I want to do here outside of work? It’s hard to know where to start! I’ve already been to Tanglewood twice, and I’ve been to the Clark — I used to go there for art research when I was a student. I play the flute and hope to get involved in a chamber music group. I’m a woodworker, and the house we have under contract has a nice space for a workshop/man cave. I love designing and building furniture.

You didn’t have to convince me to move here. When this job became available, it wasn’t just perfectly aligned with my skill sets, it was where I was planning to retire. My wife was educated in Western Mass. and we’ve always loved this area. We’re a couple that belongs here.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/12/17 at 09:05 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor has been president of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation since January 2016. His path to philanthropy started while he was associate dean of students at Bates College; that’s when he started to serve on nonprofit boards. He left higher education to work for the Maine Community Foundation. The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has recently released “A Closer Look,” a research study that provides data on the pressing issues facing our region. Interestingly, the foundation’s footprint is nearly identical to the coverage area of Rural Intelligence, so the report’s findings are of great interest to us and our readers.

I’m from Ohio, but lived in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Boston before my 23 years in Maine. One constant has been our connection to the Berkshires. My parents retired to Lenox and we have gathered here as a family over many years. It has helped to have a strong affinity to the area, to know the specialness of it. My wife is a pediatric nurse practitioner who works at Community Health Programs, and my daughter goes to Monument Mountain high school.

The purpose of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation is to build charitable resources to strengthen the community and improve the lives of the residents. We work with donors and other partners. We are very place based, focused on the region we serve.

Last January we wanted to get a deeper understanding of the trends and needs in the region. We wanted to identify a set of pressing issues to help us focus on the direction of the foundation. It’s an effort to build our knowledge that we will then share with nonprofits, their donors and residents.

As we were designing the study, we knew we wanted to hear directly from the residents, nonprofits, donors and other foundations, and civic and business leaders. We wanted to hear what was keeping them up at night. We conducted a dozen focus groups and sent out many surveys.

The report synthesizes a lot of the issues we’re seeing. Economic development and jobs are key challenges facing the region. Another theme to pay attention to are the demographic shifts that are happening. Rising rates of poverty are happening at the same time there is a growing proportion of homes owned by part-time residents. Another important issue is about youth in the workforce. They need to be able to see their futures here.

While we should be clear-eyed about what the data is telling us, it’s important to see the strengths and assets — of which there are many — as opportunities to confront the challenges head on. The solutions reside in building off what works here — the natural beauty, the culture, and the diverse population.

The report is available to anyone who’s interested. We plan to continue conversations with our communities to explore the implications of these issues. People can access the report by going to our website.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/03/17 at 05:18 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Richard Wise

Locals will recognize Richard Wise as the proprietor of the former R.W. Wise Goldsmiths in Lenox, Mass. Wise is an internationally renowned graduate gemologist, goldsmith and the author of “Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Precious Gem Stones,” which has recently been re-released in a second edition. In 2013, Wise sold his store, which he’d had for 35 years, to pursue his other passion: writing. His first novel, “The French Blue,” about a 17th-century French gem merchant, won a 2011 International Book Award in historical fiction. He is now working on his second novel.
I’m originally from Rhode Island, but I came to the Berkshires because it was the furthest point I could afford to go. The business actually started in New Bedford, Mass., but I was interested in making fine handmade jewelry, so I needed to go someplace where there were people with some resources. I had come to the Berkshires for many years to go to Tanglewood, so I opened my store in Lenox.

I started as a craftsman, and learned much of the trade on the job. My interest was in the colored diamonds, and that became the basis of our business. I’d ask gem dealers about criteria and they gave me insufficient answers. Gems are an industry where no one told anybody about anything; it’s been secretive since the Middle Ages. I decided I would find out everything I could, and tell people about it. But I had to discover much of it by myself. There’s very little written about gems. I traveled around the world seeking gem-bearing areas. After a while it became clear that if you looked at a beautiful stone to write a paragraph about it, all the elements of connoisseurship become apparent. You discover what separates the truly great from the mediocre. My book was the first to really lay it all out.

I retired from retail three years ago so I could do more writing. The first thing I did was finish up the second edition. It’s been a bestseller for 14 years, but I expanded and reworked it. Most jewelers are not able to explain stones, why some cost $50 and some cost $50,000, and the book is very accessible to both the trade and consumers.

Now I’m working on a novel set 30,000 years ago. I’ve been fascinated with cave painting. It’s pretty clear Paleolithic folks were doing more than scribbling graffiti on cave walls. They’re part of a tradition of exceptional artists.

Working the jewelry trade was an enjoyable and interesting thing to do, but I’d always wanted to write. You reach a certain point and you realize that the one irreplaceable luxury is time. When I retired at 68, I became one of America’s oldest young writers.

Richard Wise photo by Scott Barrow.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/24/17 at 05:57 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Alice Maggio

Alice Maggio is the Executive Director at BerkShares, Inc., as well as Director of Programs at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. Since 2012 she’s worked with the board of BerkShares, now in its 11th year, to use the currency as a tool for local economic development. Maggio has represented the currency in places around the world, including conferences in New York City, Barcelona and the Hague. After earning a B.A. in Sociology and French Studies at Wesleyan, she went on to bake pies in Brooklyn, teach English in the Alps, and cook Basque food in Manhattan before returning to the Berkshires. She serves on the boards of the Berkshire Children’s Chorus, the Berkshire United Way and the 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance, as well as the Community Advisory Board for WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

I was born in Brooklyn, but my parents moved us up here when I was five because my dad wanted to have sheep. When I went to Wesleyan, I realized how different the Berkshires are from other areas of the U.S., and that I was privileged to grow up around sheep and eat food from farmers that I knew. My father is a great chef and my mother is a fantastic baker, so we as a family became interested in what is now called the local food movement. The year I went to college, 2006, Berkshares first were issued. At some point I got one and kept it in my wallet. It was the same year The Omnivore’s Dilemma was published, and that was a huge influence on me. I started to be more interested in how I could help contribute to the local food movement. I had a fabulous sociology professor who made me realize there were a lot of injustices, and a lot of social structures that are invisible but that create inequalities.

Photo by Kari Giordano

I graduated and moved to New York City, where I worked at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a small pie shop started by two sisters. I was their first pie baker and I learned a lot about running a small business. I then went to the Alps to teach English and got placed in a tiny town five hours from Marseilles that was reminiscent of Great Barrington, but much more remote. It was very secluded but there was a farmers market that sold local produce and honey. After seven months there, I moved back to NYC and ended up cooking at a Basque restaurant run by a husband and wife team. I learned a lot, but realized I didn’t want a career as a chef. My interest in food led me there, but I hadn’t yet really found my place.

That’s when a good friend from Wesleyan got an internship with the Schumacher Center, which is located about two miles from where I live now in Egremont. I found out they’re involved with BerkShares, one of which had been in my wallet for the last five years. I’d been using it to show people where I’m from. There was a BerkShares internship available and, as I read its one-paragraph description, it sounded like it was describing me.

Through the internship, I started to learn about monetary policy and economics, and realized that I’d never before thought of money as a tool. I also realized that there can’t be a thriving local food economy if local business and culture weren’t thriving and supported. And the domino effect would go on from there, leading to wealth inequality, climate change, etc.

I’ve been learning from board members, and bringing what I learn at Schumacher into the community. The Center looks around the world for new models on how to build more sustainable and more just economies. What we learn is transforming how we view ownership of land and businesses, and the structure of institutions. We can bring those stories back to the Berkshires and then create our own stories. Schumacher has been an instigator, but people here have been willing to experiment for a long time. The first CSA in the country was Indian Line Farm, and we celebrate Robyn Van En, its founder, on our 10 BerkShare note. Ted Dobson of Equinox Farm was selling mesclun greens to restaurants, door to door, before people even knew what they were.

One of the things I’m most proud of is our 10-week program for young people ages 14-25, called Entry to Entrepreneurship. It’s crowd sourced at every level. We start out by asking participants, “What are the gaps in our local economy?” The idea is called “import replacement.” What do you want to buy that you can’t buy locally? Then they go on to develop a business plan. Guest speakers come in and talk about how to get a loan, how to bookkeep, etc., and mentors volunteer their time. Then the students present their plans to the public.

On Sunday, we’re co-sponsoring a screening of the new documentary Jane Jacobs: Battle for the City, at the Triplex in Great Barrington. Jacobs is one of our inspirations. She came up with the idea of “import replacement” as a way to keep regions lively.

What I really love about the Berkshires is related to its small business community and the small-town feel. It creates a web of connections; you end up being connected to people in multiple ways. You see them at the supermarket, and you serve on a boards with them, and you dance with them at a contra dance. You can feel the interdependence; there’s an accountability to each other and a feeling that we’re all in it together. People everywhere look for that and we have it.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/20/17 at 01:46 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Phyllis Feder

At 81 years young, Phyllis Feder is the only woman of her age operating a winery and vineyard in the United States. Clinton Vineyards, a 100-acre farm winery in Clinton Corners, New York, was started in 1977 by her late husband, Ben Feder. After his death, in 2009, Phyllis decided to continue Ben’s legacy and this year the vineyard will celebrate its 40th vintage with anniversary festivities on Saturday, June 24 from 2–6 p.m. There will be live jazz; a pop-up farmers market of local vendors; and tastings of what many people have agreed is the winery’s best Seyval Blanc yet.

I’m a first generation American; my mother was from Russia and my father from Austria. While they were very interested in seeing that I was educated, their own education was cut short by where they were raised and other circumstances. But I was raised in the Bronx, and there was never any question that I was going to go to college. My choice of study was based on whether I could get a job in that field. Back then, most women were led to believe they would be a secretary or a teacher, then they’d get married and have kids. That wasn’t for me; I always wanted to travel. I remember crying in the piazza in Venice because I was remembering listening to the New York Philharmonic performing from there when I was younger… and there I was… in Venice!

After attending Antioch, I came back to New York for grad school and started working in public relations in the nonprofit sector. I became head of a PR group for those in the nonprofit world. After taking over I realized we needed to think about how we were presenting ourselves, and I enlisted the help of Milton Glaser who headed Pushpin Studios. After living near him and often seeing him on the subway, he invited me to see the studio. Then their PR person left and I was hired for the job. That was the beginning of a marvelous 24-year career.

In the world of graphic design I met a lot of wonderful people. Through some friends, at the age of 50 I was fixed up on a blind date with a book designer named Ben Feder. I’m very tall and I knew he was intimidated by my height, so at the end of the evening I stood in the gutter so we were eye to eye. According to the rules of etiquette at the time, it was okay for a woman to give a man her business card, so that’s what I did. 

He brought me up to the farm at Clinton Corners and I called my brother and told him I’d just seen the sexiest thing – Ben on his tractor. Ben was truly a renaissance man; he trained as an artist and he loved cooking, the only thing Ben Feder didn’t do was the tango. He had an amazing smile and sparkling blue eyes. There’s a photo of him in the tasting room and he still is very present here.

When he envisioned a vineyard, he learned about viticulture and chose Seyval Blanc. It’s very versatile, so you can make several types of wine using one grape. He first planted them in 1974, and the first release was in 1977. He only made about 300 cases, and it won all the awards in the Northeastern competitions. Now we’re celebrating our 40th release of Seyval Blanc, and I’ve heard it’s the best we’ve ever made. The growing conditions last year were really ideal.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/13/17 at 01:42 PM • Permalink