After Hours at Coyote Moon
by: Joleene DesRosiers
Last Wednesday on a windy evening in the chilled Village of Clayton, close to 250 members from the Greater Watertown - North Country Chamber of Commerce lined East Line Road in front of Coyote Moon Vineyards for a wine, BBQ and chocolate after hours. Chamber president and CEO Peter Whitmore decided to hold the monthly event at the vineyard for an elegant, yet casual change of scenery.
“I think for a lot of folks that wouldn’t go out to a traditional bar, Coyote Moon is a great location for a social and business working event,” says Peter Whitmore, president and CEO of the chamber. “The members here can energize, get new ideas and talk about some of the challenges they’re facing while enjoying a fantastic glass of wine. We get stuck in a rut day to day and when we come to these events we wonder, ‘Is it just me?’ Once we get talking to others we realize, ‘No, it’s not’.”
For Coyote Moon, it’s an opportunity to spread the word of their award-winning accolades to businesses and folks throughout Watertown and other parts of the North Country that may not be familiar with the vineyard.
“We are a chamber member too, and we thought it would be great to get the Watertown crowd up to Clayton to see what Coyote Moon Vineyards is all about,” says vineyard public relations manager Kristina Randazzo-Ives. “We were recently honored with the New Business Venture Award as given by the Jefferson County Job Development Corporation (JCJDC), and what better way to show the North Country what were all about than hosting a chamber event.”
The Greater Watertown - North Country Chamber of Commerce is working to rebrand their organization, focusing more on smaller businesses. Whitmore says a large majority of their members are sole proprietors like Coyote Moon.
“We’ve got some great resources through the chamber,” says Whitmore. “Some small business owners need help with marketing and bookkeeping needs. And that’s just fine. The chamber offers these kinds of tools. Right now, small businesses make up 80% of our membership. And as a small business owner myself, I know what is needed to keep my doors open. And so I look at any tools that would be beneficial and bring them back around for our members.”
The after hours networking event is two-fold; it allows current and potential members to network and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere. It also highlights the sponsor business, which in this case, is Coyote Moon Vineyards.
“It’s fantastic to bring other area businesses in Watertown to Clayton so they can become familiar with whom we are,” says Kristina Randazzo-Ives. “We’ve incorporated other small business in the area to take part in this event, too. The ‘Pickle Barrel Café’ out of Depauville put together a BBQ style buffet. And ‘Covered in Chocolate’ out of Theresa, made some fantastic wine crème chocolates featuring our Coyote Moon Cherry Bomb and Fireboat Red wines.”
Nestled comfortably next to the wine crèmes were cake truffles and other desserts that ‘Covered in Chocolate’ is known for. Dozens of members enjoyed the warmth of a red wine or crisp chardonnay as they sampled the chocolates. But not before they enjoyed a down-home BBQ catered by Pickle Barrel. Two young musicians by the name of Brian and Pete served up live music with guitar and fiddle, filling the air above the laughter and chatter of the members inside the vineyard. For those willing to brave the edge of spring’s brisk and hearty winds, a tent outside opened the space even more. David Males, Vice President and General Manager of ABC 50 in Watertown, attended the event to see how the vineyard has prospered since opening it’s doors in 2004.
"The wine industry is fairly new to the region and has grown tremendously over the past couple of years,” Males says. “I was interested in visiting Coyote Moon not only to see the investment they’ve made, but to personally ask if there are plans for expansion. I was thrilled to learn that the winery will be building an additional room for functions like this one. Coyote Moon is on the cusp of something that can only benefit the region.”
Brian Wilcox is the director and financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network in Watertown. He says he was amazed at the turnout, given the weather and the fact that the event took place during spring break.
“This is the one week all year you can count on half the country being somewhere else other than here,’ Wilcox said. “I believe that’s a testament to the branding Coyote Moon has done and the curiosity it’s created in their facility. They did a fantastic job hosting the event.”
Attending events like the one hosted at Coyote Moon can be beneficial in many ways. Not only can it produce business opportunities, one can leave with a new perspective on Coyote Moon wines AND win a fun and tasty prize! The event wrapped up with four gift basket giveaways and a grand prize ‘getaway’ package. Two of the gift baskets were put together by Coyote Moon. The first was the Casa Papa Perfect Pairing Basket, which included a bottle of Casa Papa wine, a jar of Casa Papa sauce, coasters, wine charms, coyote moon glasses and a handy cork screw. The second featured their newest white wine, Island Mama, and was accented with a pineapple pequin jam, coasters, cork screw, and glasses. ‘Covered in Chocolate’ also donated a basket filled to the brim with tasty sweets. The fourth gift basket was called the Explore Clayton Package and included vouchers to the Antique Boat Museum, Thousand Island Museum, Clayton Opera House and the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. A Thousand Islands Bridge Authority Calendar and a T-Shirt were also part of the package. The grand prize giveaway was a two-night stay at Whiskey Island Lodge for three couples and included transportation provided by Garnsey's Classic Island Tours, as well as a wine and cheese cruise and dinner.
With all of these incentives, why haven’t you been to the vineyard yet? The Randazzo family looks forward to meeting you.