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Background photo by Tom Lyons

The Roberts Family

Family Spirit

DAVID ROBERTS, SR.: I’m originally from Meriden, Connecticut. I first came out to Truro in the early 1950s with my father to go fishing. It was bass back in those days—we probably caught too many. And then shortly thereafter, we brought my mother out. She made a quick decision, and she and my father bought an acre of land out on Head of the Meadow Road. She lived out here until she passed away in ’87—she was the one that drew us all here.

After I got out of the Army, I became involved in the alcoholic beverage business, first on the production side, then as a distributor when I ran United Liquors Limited. There was a lot of moving around, and in the corporate world we did what we had to do, but we always had our roots here. No matter where we lived, we always came back to Truro for our vacation—always two weeks in the summer. Our kids always loved it as a result.

The Roberts Family

The two ladies who started Truro Vineyards, Kathy and Judy, who were horticulturalists, planted all 3,500 vines themselves. While they were waiting to make their first wine, this business was a bed and breakfast, and my wife and I stayed over a few times while we had work done on our house.

My daughter likes to say that one day I took a bike ride from our house in Truro and came back with a vineyard. That’s not too far from the truth.

In October 2006, Judy was out here mowing the lawn around the vineyard, I got off my bike, and I asked what was going on. She said, “Have you heard we’re going to sell the vineyard?” I said, “Really?”

David Roberts, Jr.: As a kid, I always thought about how great it would be to live here—I just never had the opportunity or an excuse to give it a shot.

David, Sr.: We agreed to a partnership—our three children, my wife, Kathy, and I are all equal partners. We had a vision of what this business could be, and we were fortunate enough to make it happen.

•••

Kristen: Truro Vineyards has about six acres, with a little more than four and a half planted acres. We grow chardonnay, cabernet franc, and merlot grapes, and we import a lot of grapes as well—we bring in zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, grapes that won’t grow here as well. All the wine is bottled on the property.

David, Sr.: I’m kind of the generalist, if you will. My kids might say I’m the general, but they really run it.

Kristen: I run the tasting room. I do all the staff hiring and training and make sure the day runs as it should. I also do all the bookkeeping, accounting, and marketing.

David, Sr.: David had been a brewmaster with SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta, so he had a good understanding of the bottling side of it as well as the hygiene requirements. But he needed to get the nuances of wine production . . . There’s a fellow here, Matyas Vogel, who’s not a family member, but he’s like a family member. He was actually born on a little vineyard in Hungary, then he came over to the states.

David, Jr.: Matyas has been making wine in Massachusetts for more than 25 years. He’s familiar with all of the challenges we face in this climate, and his sensory evaluation is top notch. That’s one thing I had to learn coming into this: picking up flaws in wine and making adjustments. My whole sensory evaluation processes had been geared toward beer. I could tell you what kind of hops had been used in an IPA, but when it came to wine, if you put a glass of merlot and a glass of cabernet in front of me, I couldn’t tell the difference. They were both red.

David, Sr.: The first year was tough—the first year we were all learning a new business, learning how to balance our relationships. The second year, it got better. The third year, I wouldn’t say it was a pop fly, but it was close. Now, we’re finishing our sixth season here.

•••

David, Jr.: Harvest is super-hectic. By October, when everybody else on Cape Cod is done for the season, I’m running around like a restaurateur in August. In the summertime, we’re bottling, we’re filtering, doing little things here and there, and it’s not that critical to do them right then and there. Harvest is not like that. When the fruit comes in, that dictates what you have to do.

They say that grapes don’t like wet feet, so having sandy soil is positive in a lot of ways . . . The winters are an issue. It’s a short growing season . . . The breeze out here is a positive. When you get a lot of rain, the breeze dries the fruit, which inhibits mold. Some of the severe weather we get out here can definitely be a negative, and the cold winters as well, but we have varietals that handle the cold pretty well.

•••

Kristen: There’s no Main Street in Truro, there are no traffic lights, there’s just a tiny post office—it’s a true small town. It doesn’t look much different than it did when I first came down here 30 years ago . . . I love that it’s super-busy in the summer, that you can’t take a left onto Route 6. And then I love that there’s nobody here in January, that you can drive from Provincetown to Wellfleet in the morning without seeing a single car on the road.

David, Sr.: I always dreamed of living in Truro. This just happened to be the way to make it happen.

About

Jeff is the Managing Editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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Highland Light and Wireless Station, North Truro, Cape Cod, Mass

Highland Light and Wireless Station, North Truro, Cape Cod, Mass