Editor’s note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
For Mary Eckert, life is best when it’s uncomplicated.
A self-professed “faith-filled person,” the co-owner of Janesville’s Fermenting Cellars Winery believes God has a divine plan for each person, and she strives to stay out of the way and cooperate with that plan. She also believes heavily that live music is always better than prerecorded music, and that it never hurt anyone to work hard.
A Janesville native, Eckert has been married to her “soulmate” and business partner, Bill, for 36 years, having raised two sons in the process. She enjoys her life as a wife, homemaker and mother, and she now spends her days organizing events and working at the family’s winery.
To learn more about Eckert and the winery, visit FermentingCellarsWinery.com, or search for it on Facebook.
1. What made you decide to open a winery? After years of hobby wine-making and a few good recipes, we decided to open our own wine business.
2. What is your wine of choice? I prefer a dry red or white wine.
3. What is the one thing that goes into your shopping cart at the grocery story whether you need it or not? Usually cleaning supplies. Welcoming the public requires a lot of cleaning to ensure a clean environment.
4. Have you always been a wine fan? Has making it your vocation diminished the pure enjoyment you have for it? I have always enjoyed a great glass of wine, and having our own business has made it more enjoyable and convenient.
5. What do you say to people who think they aren’t cultured enough to know a good wine from a bad wine? Wine is a very personal experience. No one should tell anyone else how to drink wine or which wine they should like.
6. Share the title of your favorite wine-related song. “Red, Red Wine” by Neil Diamond. He was a favorite singer and composer of Bill’s dad, Don, who was instrumental in our wine-making techniques.
7. If a group of geese is a gaggle, a group of horses is a herd and a group of mice is a mischief, what would you call a group of wine drinkers? Winettes for ladies, winos for gentlemen and winers for a mixed group.
8. Where do the ingredients that go into your wines come from? We pick fresh fruit in Brodhead from a vineyard of a hobby winemaker friend. What we can’t pick locally we ship in fresh as juice from the Michigan area.
9. What is the single greatest challenge a winemaker faces? The replication of recipes. So much depends on Mother Nature.
10. Aside from your wine selections, what sets your winery apart from the others in the area? At Fermenting Cellars Winery, we offer complimentary tastings and an opportunity to sit down to enjoy the tasting experience.
11. In your opinion, does glassware matter when drinking wine? The choice of glassware does matter, depending on the situation. In a formal situation, it is important to present your wine in the appropriate glass, but most wine tastes just as good in a Mason jar.
12. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? I would pretend as if I didn’t win because I believe those who live like they are rich will never be, and those who live like they are poor will never be.
13. What are tannins, and what are they doing in my wine? Tannins are present in all wines, with more in reds than whites. Tannins are also what makes a wine taste bitter (or dry in your mouth). Tannin is one of the characteristics looked at in tasting wines along with sweetness, acidity, fruit and body, and they do add balance to wine and help it to age longer.
14. What is your astrological sign? Do you believe in astrology? Taurus the Bull. My nature has always been one of “steady wins the race.” A strong will and perseverance has served me well.
15. Before opening your winery, what was your chosen profession? Before Bill and I opened Fermenting Cellars Winery, and still today, I am a church musician and vocalist.
16. Without looking in the dictionary, what would you guess it means to degust? I had to look it up—it’s part of being a Taurus. My first thought was to remove the gusto from someone or something. Maybe we should offer wine degustations! (To degust means to taste food or drink carefully, so as to fully appreciate it.)
17. Share something people would be surprised to find out about you. I am a very private person and enjoy quiet.
18. Would you say you have a green thumb? I love to garden, and I try each year to at least grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers along with maintaining the abundance of perennials along our upper patio and pavilion.
19. Why is there an indentation on the bottom of my wine bottle? The indentation on the bottom of a wine bottle (known as a punt) is there to help receive the pressure exerted on the bottle neck and body by the action of corking.
20. Would you say your glass is half-full or half-empty? My glass is always half-full (because a short time ago my glass was full—ha ha). When one door closes, another opens. I am so blessed.