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I’m writing this as we just cracked open a bottle of Liberty Springs for our six month wedding anniversary. We had set a few aside, un-marked for life events we couldn’t anticipate and we thought celebrating our six month anniversary while quarantined was as good an excuse as any and we certainly wouldn’t have predicted this one. The wine is even better than it was six months ago and it was great then. It’s smooth, it’s complex and the finish is incredible. 

We knew we wanted Mark to make us a custom wine before we knew where the wedding was going to be, before we really knew when the wedding was going to be. We wanted our wedding to be unique and to be local and Mark’s custom wine fit right in. We knew a good wine would take time and we knew we had at least two years until the wedding. Choosing to have a custom wine for our wedding was the easiest decision we had to make, other than saying yes.

We started out by gathering a few bottles of wine that we really enjoyed, and of course they were all from local New England wineries we had visited in our travels. The fun began when we sat down with Mark and sampled them, taking notes about what we enjoyed, the flavors we tasted (Mark was better at that than we were). From there, Mark ordered grapes and started his magic! We received regular updates and always knew what was going on the different varietals for our wine, from time to time I would see it getting filtered, racked and moved. We settled on a Bordeaux blend, a red wine with a lot of tannins and a cherry cola taste.

The best part about making your own wine is the blending, at least we thought that was the best part. We spent the afternoon playing scientist, measuring and portioning out different ratios of different varietals of wine. We tried Mark’s Legacy blend as the base, a wine blend that includes red wine from every varietal over the last two years, we tried Pinotage, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah. We settled on 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Carmenere and 10% Syrah blend and called it Liberty Springs. We got engaged at the top of Mt. Liberty and took the Liberty Springs Trail. Mark’s guess for where we would land was 50% Cabernet Franc, 40% Carmenere and 10% Syrah, I’d say he was pretty close. 

Once we settled on the wine blend, Mark got to work blending and fine tuning the final product. Bottling day was next, unfortunately Mike missed out on the fun. I was able to join Mark and bottled the very first bottle of Liberty Springs from start to finish, from filling to corking, capping and finally hand labeling. After the first bottle, I stayed and capped the other cases while Mark hand labeled each bottle, a final act of love towards the wine that he had looked over, tested and so passionately produced over the last two years. Mark and I ended the day cheersing over the very first glass of Liberty Springs. 

For Mike and I, we viewed marriage a lot like a fine wine. It takes time, it takes love, hard work, some blending, filtering and it just keeps getting better with time. We chose to include our wine in our wedding ceremony and shared a glass from the very first bottle in front of our family and friends. After the ceremony, the bottle was passed around to celebrate with our wedding party as pictures were being taken.

People questioned the cost of a custom wine, but honestly it was a no brainer for us then and even more so, now. We had a limited menu open bar, which is what we wanted, no liquor, just a local beer and our custom wine. We were able to keep cases of wine for ourselves and everyone at the wedding LOVED the wine and the story. We would do it again in a heartbeat, it was so much more unique than a classic open bar. The beer was a local brew from the Woodstock Inn, Mike chose the 4000 footer IPA, a classic considering our first date was a hike up Cannon and we were engaged on Mt. Liberty with many peaks in between. 

We had enough wine to give a bottle to all our vendors, who we were fortunate enough to have been friends with too. Our bartender was our CrossFit coach, our chef was an old coworker, our florist and officiant were friends, our photographers were friends who had become coworkers and the list goes on. We gave a bottle to our friends and family who helped with the wedding and to our wedding party. We were so fortunate to be surrounded by people who knew us and loved us and not just the guests, the folks who helped make the wedding happen, all the way down to every bite of food and every sip of wine. 

You would think that the story of our wedding wine ends there, at the wedding, but it didn’t. The biggest gift came weeks later and we weren’t expecting it, it snuck up on us. While organizing and sorting through wedding decorations, we moved the five cases of wine we kept to a cool location and decided to label the bottles for different anniversaries, one year, five years, and even fifty years. Two boxes later it had become so much more than anniversaries and had turned into different life events, mostly good, but some really hard.

We planned for new jobs, our bridesmaids and groomsman’s weddings, losing our dog who walked me down the aisle, losing loved ones, big fights, having kids and grandkids, the list goes on. We realized that this wine was going to be with us and there to bring us together during the best times of our life and during the hardest. It would give us a reason to slow down, be together, celebrate the memories, celebrate the moment and bring us back to the day where we were surrounded by so much love. 

We’ve got over sixty bottles or five cases of wine to mark over sixty life events, some that we can predict, some that we can’t. This gave us so much more than bottles of wine, this gave us a tradition, a way to get through life, acknowledge the highs worth celebrating and the lows worth crying over and something to continue to bring us together. This is something that our kids will grow up with and one day have for their weddings.

It was in that moment, writing on these bottles with tears in our eyes mapping out different events over the next fifty years that we realized how important this wine truly was, how important it would continue to be and how the wedding day was really just the beginning.