Three Questions with… Kari Skrip Gavenus of Clover Hill
1. Your parents Pat and John Jr. started Clover Hill in the 1970s, and today you and your brother John III run the business with them. How did you and your brother decide to get involved in the family business as opposed to going into a different line of work like your sister did?
My brother and I both had a similar path that led us back to Clover Hill. John studied marketing at Penn State and fully intended to work somewhere else. I did my undergrad at Frostburg in business management. By our senior year in college we began to realize how special and fun Clover Hill is and decided it might not be so bad to work in the family business.
Our parents encouraged both of us to do some formal wine studies before coming into the business. John went to Fresno, Ca. to study enology and I went to Adelaide, Australia to study wine marketing. Both of us fully enjoy working at Clover Hill and it has been a privilege and a pleasure to see our family business grow and thrive.
2. Your Flights with Bites events have become very popular as a good way to showcase food and wine pairings for customers. How did they get started, and who comes up with the menu?
Flights and Bites are a great way to see just how much wine can enhance the flavors of food. People often get overwhelmed with selecting a wine to serve with their meals. This is a great opportunity to begin to understand how flavors of wines and food work together. Our staff works together to come up with a menu. We do a lot of tasting to find a good mix of flavors and show an assortment of wine and food combinations.
3. You recently released six new wines. When developing a new wine, how do you decide what to create? Does it depend on what grapes you are growing that season, or do you take into consideration feedback from customers on what they like, or perhaps trends in the winemaking industry?
Creating new wines is a collective effort and quite a bit goes into the process. The most important part is starting with quality fruit – you can’t make a good wine without good grapes. In any one growing season, if a certain grape variety does very well, we will try to produce a special wine from the grape to showcase that variety.
We do also listen to our customers, pay attention to trends, and we want to produce wine styles that we enjoy drinking. For example our Vidal Verde and Chambourcin Frizzante stemmed from my brother’s love for sipping Portuguese Vinho Verde in the summertime. Last year we produced Vidal Verde in the Vinho Verde style and it was a huge summertime success!
This year we brought back the Vidal Verde along with a new friend, Chambourcin Frizzante. Customers have been thrilled with these wines, we love to drink them and both Vidal and Chambourcin grapes are nice choices for this style wine.