Throughout this entire process, the only thing that has remained constant has been change!!! We started out with the idea of growing our own fruit, honey, etc and having our own building. It has morphed into leasing a production area (winery) and a retail space (tasting room). At one point, we were going to serve and sell other meads (other than the ones we make), but the licensing restrictions to do this killed this idea. We were going to start with 3 recipes, but added a 4th.
Each of these changes were due to circumstances, newly acquired knowlege, and financial considerations. Don't get me wrong, Becky and I are very happy with our current plan. It was not as we envisioned it at first, but it is a wonderful site and an ambitious dream! We also realize that we these current plans may morph into something new in the near future as we discover more challenges or opportunities.
When we first started talking with the developer about Rivermill, we were going to be on the bottom floor (mostly underground, actually) with a cafe and coffee house above us on the second floor. Part of the plan was to install a "glass floor/ceiling" in the area above the production area to give customers of the cafe and coffee shop a view into the winery. To get more people into the winery, this was a great idea! The only issue (that we recongnized at the time) with this plan was that we needed to have the fermenters in the middle of the room, in order for people to have something interesting to see. Well, this meant that we were losing valuable floor space.
By having the fermenters in the middle of the room, we could not store pallets on either side of them. If we did, we would block ourselves in and not be able to move bottles and such around. We determined that having more potential customers come down to see what we were doing made the hassel worthwhile. Then we reality sunk in. Code requires that we have 2 hour fire rated walls, doors and windows. If the production area were to catch fire, it would have to take at least 2 hours for the fire to burn thru. This requirement would add very high costs to this "window" in the ceiling! Now, this is out of the plan and my fermenters can go back up against the wall!
The lower windows in this picture will be our windows at the Rivermill Market in Saxapahaw!!!!!! The renovations should be starting any day now!
We are VERY excited!!!