Meet the Neighbors - Bet the Farm

We passionately support small business and handmade and local goods.  As a follower of our blog, we thought that you might feel the same way.  In our Meet the Neighbors series we're featuring businesses and people who reflect our own values and whom we feel lucky to call neighbors and friends.

 
 Bet the Farm is one of those small shops that is the first (and often the last) place we look when it's time to buy a gift for someone we love.  They're full of local products and most of them are edible, so we always know we're buying something that will be used and savored.  With their new online shop it's now even easier to send the gift of local goods to friends and family everywhere.

We recently talked with Nancy Tisch, owner of Bet the Farm.  We loved the way her passion for the business came through in her words, which we share undiluted here.
I saw on your website that you started the business in the fall of '06.  How did you choose Aurora as your location? 

I had worked at the Aurora Inn until fall of 2005.  When the little yellow building was being vacated in summer of 2006, the Inn's General Manager suggested I think of a business to fit the space.  I came up with the idea of filling the shelves with a selection of wines and foods.   
Did you start the shop knowing that you would go on to produce your own wines, or was that decision made later?

To sell wine and food in the same space in New York - you have to make wine.  At first, I thought that I would only make enough to maintain the operation as a special farm winery (only 100 gallons or about 45 cases).  So, I knew I would produce some wine - but I didn't realize how much until I got into it and found out that it is something that I really enjoy!  Sometimes I tell people that I found my inner winemaker. 
Nancy's Bet the Farm label wines
What is your personal history with wine?  How and when did you get into the business?

My personal history - well I began wine making in 2006 when I started the business.  I was never a home winemaker.  I have had a great mentor in Lou Damiani at Damiani Wine Cellars.  My personal history with wine (i.e. consumption) goes back about thirty years.  When I was in my early twenties - my friends and I drank a lot of good wine- mostly whites early on but within a few years we had moved on to reds too.  
Nancy's wines are already winning awards
What percentage of your customer base would you say is local?  How many are just passing through?

Hmmm... this is tough to answer.  I would guess about 20% of our customer base is local (i.e. from the Village or the College).  The others that are passing through (guests at the Aurora Inn for example) return year after year which is great!  Then we draw a large portion of our customers from people who are out to visit wineries - they generally come from within a two-hour drive.  So we see lots of folks from Endicott, Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, Wilkes-Barre, Ithaca, Auburn to highlight a few. 

Why do you think it is important for people to buy locally made products?

The biggest reason that it's important for people to buy locally is to provide support to local small businesses.  I know that some wines are much less expensive than some of the wines that we sell - but think about it -  where do those dollars go?  Large corporations, overseas producers.  If we don't support the local businesses (something that we pride ourselves in doing by purchasing all of our products from small start-up food processors, local chefs, small wineries etc.) our hard-earned money leaves the area. 
What are your favorite parts of this business?

I really love the winemaking aspect - it allows me to use my scientific background to create something that is like a work of art.  At the finishing stages of winemaking - we tweak it in a number of ways (fining, blending, sweetening) so that the public will smell and taste the best possible wine.  I also like the multi-faceted nature of running a business, from making the wine to doing the marketing and bookkeeping - even cleaning the building. 

What are some of your biggest challenges?

There's always a lot to do - even when you hit the slower months, it seems like there is still planning for the next step. 

Do you have any future plans or upcoming events or programs that you'd like to share?

Dec 3 - 5 - we have special sale on gift baskets- all baskets are at a 15% discount. 
Dec 10th - we'll have special sale again for Christmas in Aurora

This February - we'll have our fourth annual Juvenile Oenophile  - an introduction to wine appreciation.  This will be a five part introduction to wine with topics that include history of winemaking, sensory perception, flavor components of wine and a field trip to Damiani Wine Cellars and vineyards. 

Back in early September, we stopped in and Mark was kind enough to agree to an Aurora Shoe photo shoot (a neighbor to our shop, Mark works at Bet the Farm and has been wearing our shoes for years). It's not easy to pair shoes and wine in a photo...
Thanks, Mark!

Bet the Farm is located on Main Street in Aurora, NY.  Visit Bet the Farm's website to learn more about their shop and their great local products, programs and classes.

Check back soon to meet more of our friends and neighbors!

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Photography by Erin Little , Ginny Sheller , Katherine Huysman .

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