Lin L’Heureux never planned on being an entrepreneur. She’d pursued a variety of career paths over the years after studying pre-veterinary medicine in college, from a teacher to a vet tech to running an educational farm. But she never dreamed she’d be where she is today: nearly 10 years into owning Hooksett-based Copper Beech Winery.
That all changed in the mid 2000s, however, when she was recovering from a serious horseback riding injury that left her learning to walk again. A friend brought over a bottle of wine her husband had made from a kit at home, and Lin was inspired.
“I was fascinated,” Lin said. “So I gave myself a goal that when I can walk down the basement steps without a walker, I'm going to teach myself to make wine.”
And that’s exactly what she did. At first, her wines weren’t very good. But she kept reading about new techniques and testing them out on her family and friends. And with their feedback, she gradually started to learn what worked and what didn’t.
Over time, friends started asking her to bring wine to their dinner parties and other events. Eventually, they suggested she sell it. With the support of her husband, Lin jumped at the chance.
She was licensed as a winemaker and seller in 2012 and opened Copper Beech Winery to the public in 2014. That same year, her wines started winning medals at US-based national and international competitions.
In the nearly 10 years since she was first licensed, Lin has watched as her business has grown and changed - and done her part to support other local businesses like hers.
For Lin, that starts by sourcing the fruits used in her wines from farms in New Hampshire and New England. After growing up on a farm and working in agriculture, Lin said she knew she wanted to use her business to support local farmers.
“Having grown up with agriculture all around me, I have a strong understanding of how hard it is to farm,” Lin said. “You’re dependent on the weather and the climate...these people that do this for a living are really dependent on their produce for an income, so I try to source everything as locally as possible.”
Supporting local business became even more important over the last couple of years, after COVID-19 disrupted daily life and impacted operations of many businesses in New Hampshire and around the world, including Copper Beech Winery.
Indoor wine tasting shut down when the state went into lockdown in 2020 and Lin moved to a curbside pick-up model. The wholesale orders she had been fulfilling dwindled and Lin said she was worried how her business would survive.
But luckily for Lin, she had started working with SCORE - and her SCORE mentor Dick VerEecke - before COVID-19 changed everything. With his support over the last few years to talk through finances, accounting and business operations, Lin said, Copper Beech Winery is still going strong today.
“(Dick) has been a really good sounding board, offering really helpful business advice,” Lin said. “It’s been really good because he’s interested in the business and he’s interested in me as a SCORE client.”
Today, in 2021, Copper Beech Winery has been able to bring the public back for wine tastings - now held outdoors - and Lin said she’s looking forward to other exciting possibilities in the year to come: including holding larger outdoor events at the winery, getting back to wholesale accounts and even making a commemorative wine for Hooksett’s 200th anniversary celebration in 2022.
Interested in learning more about Copper Beech Winery and their locally-made wines? Visit their website at http://www.copperbeechwinery.com or visit them in person at 146 Londonderry Turnpike, Building 3, Unit 23, Hooksett, New Hampshire 03106.