Regan Meador’s resume looks a bit different than most; up until the spring of 2011, Meador had been steadily climbing the ranks in the agency world. Based in New York, Meador had worked for Campfire, Grey, and was currently in a Senior Strategist role at Euro RSCG. But after some soul searching, Meador decided to leave the ad world behind to pursue a career in something he truly loved: wine.
In the summer of 2011, Meador and his wife packed up their life in New York City and moved to the North Fork of Long Island, where he could start his journey to becoming a winemaker. He started searching for a job as an assistant winemaker at a vineyard, an experience he describes as humbling, ‘I knew I would have to start at the bottom- I had plenty of experience tasting, researching and reading about wine, but none in actually making it. Lucky for me, I found a few people who were looking for someone like me- someone who was eager to learn but that they could pay peanuts. It truly took a lot of swallowing my pride, scrubbing floors, cleaning and more cleaning, but with that came a lot of learning, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.’
After learning the ropes as an assistant winemaker at Osprey’s Dominion, Meador began to think of the next step: opening his own vineyard. And not just any vineyard, but one with ‘weird’ grapes. Tired of drinking ‘boring, mass produced, lifeless wine,’ Meador wanted to open a vineyard that would introduce New Yorkers to new grape varieties; he and his wife purchased a farmhouse and 23 acre plot of land, Southold Farms & Cellar, in the summer of 2012. They will plant their first grapes this spring, beginning with Teroldego. Chances are, if you’re not a wine connoisseur, you’ve never heard of Teroldego. And Meador wants it that way- he’s eager to expand our palettes beyond traditional wines like Chardonnay and Merlot and bring some diversity to what we drink. It’s a risk, but one Meador’s excited about- ‘When I was introduced to wine made out of grapes not typically found, I loved the surprise of it. I know we’re in a region that can handle these different types of grapes in a different way than much of California; that’s what we were looking for when we set out making these planting decisions.’
And it’s a risk he hopes we’ll be excited about, too. Meador launched a $15,000 Kickstarter campaign in February to help with the costs of planting his first grapes. Why not just take out a loan? He wants his vineyard to engage the wine-loving community long beyond the Kickstarter campaign, saying, ‘It just made sense to include folks at such an early, vulnerable stage, we want to grow up together with our fans.’ The campaign reached the goal in just a few days and Meador has now turned his focus to the stretch goal, one that will further involve wine lovers:
When we set our course it was always with the goal of bringing more diversity to the wine world on a local and (hopefully someday) national level. It was a goal to help educate more wine drinkers that so much more exists outside of the bargain aisle of their local wine shop. That this diversity is key to the success of any and all burgeoning wine regions. And that by telling this story as individuals, wineries, and regions, we only foster a richer and more dynamic wine experience for everyone… If at the end of deadline we have 223 backers, you as a group will vote on the next variety of grape we are to plant. These can be backers of any denomination starting at $1 (because that’s Kickstarter’s minimum). The more people talking about and supporting what we’re doing, the more effect it can have influencing folks in the marketplace whether they are a new wine lover or a vineyard owner considering what to plant. This is our goal.
So if you’re an adventurous wine drinker, join Meador’s Kickstarter campaign to help decide the next ‘weird’ wine of Southold Farms & Cellar- which in turn will help distinguish the offerings of Long Island vineyards in the world wine market.
And about that unusual resume- Meador may be firmly out of the ad world, but when speaking with him about his varied background, it was clear two things matter, no matter what the industry: passion and authenticity.
When you don’t believe in what you’re striving to do, how can you expect your customers to do so? Long story short I’ve learned people gravitate to authentic products. We’re not worried about marketing or selling, we’re worried about making and doing things we’re truly excited about.
Watch the Kickstarter video below and support ‘weird’ grapes here.