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Good spirits
by Jeff Nichols ’06

2006 was a vintage year for Kenton ’85 and Kathy Iadicola Nice ’85, as the couple helped amateur winemakers produce nearly 80,000 bottles of wine at their Cherry Hill winery.

“It’s a hobby entirely out of control,” said Kathy. It began in 1997 when the Nices started making wine with several other couples in Toms River.

Enamored of the experience, Kenton and Kathy used their free time to open their own business, allowing others like them to enjoy hands-on participation in every step of the winemaking process.

As their customer base grew, they realized they needed a bigger facility, so in 2004 they opened the Cherry Hill Wine Room.

Wine couldn’t have been further from the Nices’ thoughts while students at then-Glassboro State College. Pursuing an accounting degree, Kenton decided to take a photography elective. “Where else was I supposed to meet women?” he joked.

And that’s exactly where he met Kathy, an education major also enrolled in the class. “We stepped into a darkroom and look what developed,” she laughed.

Kenton and Kathy also developed a passion for wine that would lead them to where they are today. While they maintain their day jobs—he as an accountant in Toms River and she as a school psychologist after 15 years of teaching—it’s their flourishing hobby that really gets their juices flowing.

“We jumped in with two feet,” Kenton said. Not quite literally, though, as machines handle most of the grape-crushing duties (although you can stomp a few of your grapes if you’d like).

Different types of wine require different blends of grapes, and once the group makes its selection, the Nices order grapes from California or Chile. When the fruit arrives, they call the customers and let them know the winemaking can begin.

Throughout the entire process, the Nices are there to steer their winemakers in the right direction. In fact, Kenton and Kathy find interacting with the customers the most rewarding aspect of the Wine Room. “It’s not so much about how much money you spend,” Kenton said, “…but rather about the time and the moment, who you’re with and how you
enjoy your time together.”

Like the grapes they crush, the Wine Room customers come in many varieties.
“We do draw wine lovers from a very diverse crowd. It’s like a universal language,” Kathy said, explaining why it attracts people from all walks of life. “Everybody really gets along and has a great time.”

In fact, some of those customers come from the Nices’ alma mater. Last fall, Kenton and Kathy welcomed Rowan alumni and guests to the Wine Room for a lesson on winemaking and tasting.

While it might seem strange to see a business major and an education major making wine, for the Nices it was a perfect fit. “It’s a funny way that we got here. But, it all makes sense. We’re teaching winemaking and it is our own business,” said Kathy.

“We each had our own careers—we still do,” she said. “We were doing this as a hobby—a part time thing—and now it’s something we hope to retire to.” Endpoint

_______________________________
Michael Shute ’93 graduated with a BA in Communications Liberal Arts. He lives in Gloucester Township with his wife, Colleen ’93, M’96 and their 20-month-old son, Ryan. He can be reached at via e-mail.

 
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