Antiques and Wine: The Perfect Combination
When you think of Brimfield, you would probably always think of The Antique Show, or as locals call it, The Flea Market. But now, when some think of this small town in The Pioneer Valley, they think of wine. This is all because of one family who completely changed the scene of The Flea Market and revamped it to cater young adults, older audiences and everyone in-between.
This week, I was able to interview one very determined and hardworking woman – Katy Corriveau. Corriveau and her husband, Rusty, owned Crystal Acres in Brimfield, which is one of the fields located directly in the center of The Antique Show. They eventually sold it, but always sort of had their eye on J&J Auction Acres. The pair then approached the owners of J&J with an offer, and soon enough they owned 36 acres, a house built in 1823 along with the prestige of being the birthplace of The Brimfield Antique Show.
Katy and Rusty began their journey towards a winery when they realized what it could do for the Brimfield community. They saw a niche and honed in on it: Breweries are so popular right now, yet the closest winery is pretty far from Brimfield. But, this property is less than 10 miles from I90 East (Palmer) and I90 West (Sturbridge) and I84 (Sturbridge). The Antique Show is the largest in the country, and with J&J Auction Acres being the birthplace of this event, what a perfect tribute it would be to build a place where people gather and have a good time, flea market or not!
So with Rusty being a Retired Marine Veteran and Katy having a business model in mind, they set out to create The Brimfield Winery & Cidery. Within a few years, they would have raised tens of thousands of dollars for their community and receive requests to ship their wines all over the country.
Because the family literally knew nothing about making wine, they needed a little bit of help. Luckily, they have a lifelong friend who owns Hardwick Winery, which is only a 30 minute drive away. John Samek helped guide them on every small and large process that goes into creating your own winery, until they were ready to go off on their own. Corriveau also had help from the group Women Wine Makers of New England and The Massachusetts Farm Wineries & Growers Association. These groups provided the start-up winery with a lot of information and tips on what not to do, so they wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes someone else did. Eventually when they imported grapes from Suisun Valley (a unique wine country and thriving farming community in Northern California), the pair felt they were ready to produce delicious wines for their customer base. Although this is a very important attribute to their success, there are many other factors that lead them towards their dreams.
One reason for their success was social media. Corriveau mentioned that social media has been their primary marketing strategy. Since Facebook and Instagram is a free platform (to a point), that is another plus. But, now Corriveau said she has to pay for their post to get boosted so it will show up on their follower’s timelines. They had tried to do paper ads a few times, but she noticed that it wasn’t getting them nearly as much response as social media would.
Another way they market their business is via label, website and logo designs. Corriveau designs these all herself, and she said that is one of her favorite parts about the business. Mind you, she still works full time in Pharmaceutical Sales – so she when she gets home from her day job, she begins working on the marketing side of the business at night. While she’s selling pharmaceuticals, Rusty is at home doing most of the building and renovation for the winery. He is the one who brings Corriveau’s plan to life and makes the winery look that much more unique when you pull in the driveway.
The Brimfield Winery’s business plan primarily consists of hosting events and community gatherings. Corriveau truly believes that The Brimfield Antique Show provides most of the financial engine behind their business because of the publicity and number of people it brings to their location. Besides The Antique Show, Brimfield Winery typically host a variety of events each year, ranging from The Steerage Rock Rider’s 4H Horse Show to Weddings, and anything else in between. Corriveau actually invented The Pioneer Valley Wine and Food Festival. This festival takes place “behind the red barn” of the winery, and features local wineries and a huge variety of food trucks – all from The Pioneer Valley. If you are into supporting local, you know what festival to go to!
The winery is also the perfect location for weddings and any other sort of private events. Because of its pristine location, it is great for guests who are traveling from out of town – situated only about an hour from both Logan International Airport and Bradley International Airport. The old homestead from 1823 is also the perfect place for their guests to stay over or use to prepare for their event. The whole property has a modern yet vintage feel, while maintaining the cozy atmosphere of a winery.
As for the future, The Corriveau’s hope to bring even more to the table. Corriveau herself hopes to bring beer into the equation in the near future – they recently were able to obtain their brewer’s license and have found a contracted brewer. Of course, the wine would remain the “mainstay” but the beer would be brought in to compliment the customer experience. She also hopes to get the old homestead up and running as a Bed and Breakfast, to make the experience even more exciting for antique lovers and individuals who’s special events are at Brimfield Winery. Unfortunately, they are unable to ship across state lines, but are aiming to obtain the proper licensure to do so in the future. They also have a goal to produce estate grapes in the southeast field in Brimfield.
To reach all of her goals, Corriveau attributes her success to the help of her family. They help run Brimfield Winery all summer long until they close in October. She also has an amazing Events Coordinator who helps take a lot of the in depth planning off her plate (as she still works full time!). “It’s the journey, not the end game. It’s about being part of the growth” Corriveau told me, “To keep on evolving, but enjoy the journey”.
If you’re interested in supporting The Brimfield Winery & Cidery, you can purchase their wines from MickNucks’ Fresh Marketplace (Sturbridge, MA), The Brimfield Market, and Central Package Store (Brookfield, MA). You can also order on their website and if you spend over $90, they will deliver anywhere in a 20 mile radius. If you live farther than that, you can order online and pick up in person.
Brimfield Winery & Cidery Website: brimfieldwinery.com
Brimfield Winery & Cidery Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brimfieldwinery
The Pioneer Valley Wine and Food Truck Festival: http://www.facebook.com/PioneerValleyWineFestival
Brimfield Auction Acres: https://brimfieldauctionacres.com