Thirty years ago, Dana Master Woolley ’87 met Richard Woolley ’89 over a keg of beer at a Sigma Tau Chi fraternity party.
Today, their tastes in companionship have remained the same, but their drink of choice has changed.
After decades of exploring both the art and science of drinking and making wine, the Woolleys have opened a winery in the Lehigh Valley near Allentown, Pa., Weathered Vineyards.
Getting the barn doors open hasn’t been easy, and the 13-acre farm has lived up to its name: The first grapevines planted by the Woolleys died in one single night, when a fluke dip in temperatures to -15 F wiped out nearly the entire 3,000 vine crop—something even a seasoned meteorologist like Richard had a hard time swallowing.
Despite the setback, in late September 2014 they were ready to open to the public.
“A few people came by to see, but they were mostly neighbors,” Richard said of their soft opening. It would be just a few short weeks later that hundreds of customers would converge on Weathered Vineyards, bringing their dreams to fruition.
It had been decades in the making, through raising a family and Richard’s position as a meteorologist, which had the couple criss-crossing the country. Their travels provided ample opportunities to try, and study, wines from New York’s Finger Lakes to California’s Sierra Nevada wine region and many, many places in between.
Dana is at the helm of Weathered Vineyard’s marketing, sales and events planning as well as serving as Weathered Vineyard’s bottle labels and logo designer. The team has not quit their day jobs: Dana and Richard continue to work other jobs, tending to the vineyard evenings and weekends.
And according to Richard, it’s well worth the hard work.
“Sometimes there are just those nice days when the weather is beautiful with a few clouds and a breeze, not too hot or cold, and you can sit back enjoy a glass of wine and watch the weather go by in silence,” said Richard.
And in case you’re wondering what the winemaker himself favors: It’s probably a Cabernet Franc.