Turning a Shared Passion into A Multiple-Family Business with Robert Manley

Oct 7, 2020

Robert Manley grew up in Rhode Island and moved to California shortly after finishing high school, graduating from California Institute of the Arts where he met his wife Jerilyn. After 7 years together in California, they moved to New Hampshire to pursue numerous creative ventures taking them in many fun and exciting directions.

Living in California gave Robert the opportunity to learn about and explore his interest for wine and this is where his passion for wine really took root. Since returning to New Hampshire, this passion continued with the discovery of the wonderful wines of New York, Canada and New England. In 1997, Robert met Ken Hardcastle and Chuck Lawrence. Before long, the three of friends were making wine from grapes, other fruits and honey, and planting a vineyard! They did not know it yet, but they were well on their way to fulfilling a dream of one day turning this passion into a business and opening a winery.

In 2009, the three friends, with their wives whole-hearted support, began the process of opening a winery that would soon become Hermit Woods and together, they balance their many interests with the making and selling of wine. When not making wine, Robert can be found doing architectural and commercial photography and running a small boutique graphic design firm, bobdonpaul.com. Robert also loves traveling with his wife, exploring the world, hiking, biking, running and camping!

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The roots of the Hermit Woods name and the story that inspired it.
  • Robert’s passion for wine and the connection between him and his partners.
  • The early days of the winery and converting a master bedroom to a tasting room!
  • How the family members have contributed and influenced the Hermit Woods business.
  • How Robert and his partners gained localized knowledge about wine and ways that this plays into sustainability.
  • The different roles for everyone in the business and the skills they each bring to the table.
  • Maintaining relationships and the challenges that Robert has faced in the business.
  • The evolution of the business and how the partners mapped out their roles from the start.
  • How Robert and Hermit Woods have adjusted to the conditions of the pandemic.
  • Hermit Woods’ new ways of conducting wine tasting and innovations they have made in the era of social distancing.
  • A few of Hermit Woods’ notable and bestselling wines!
  • Robert’s words of encouragement for business owners and why he believes in following your passion.



“In some ways, this snapped us out of some old bad habits, if you would, and taught us some new and in some ways, more productive ways to do what we’re doing.” — @hermitwoods [0:29:54]

“We are no longer able to do wine tasting in the traditional sense, so we’ve converted to a self-service tasting model, which isn’t a new idea, but it’s new for us.” — @hermitwoods [0:32:56]


Facebook Posts:

“Most fruit that is turned into wine in New England is made in a very different style than what you and I would think of as classic wine, say coming from California and France.” — Robert Manley [0:18:00]

“We founded the premise of our business on the concept that our business will only be successful if we ensure the success of the businesses and the community around us.” — Robert Manley [0:36:39]


Additional Resources:

Hermit Woods Winery & Deli: https://hermitwoods.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hermitwoods

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hermitwoods

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hermitwoodswinery/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobmanley


Links Mentioned:

Food & Wine Magazine: https://www.foodandwine.com/

Oprah: http://www.oprah.com

United Airlines: https://www.united.com/

Zoom: https://zoom.us/

Today Show: https://www.today.com/

Winnipesaukee Association: https://www.winnipesaukee.org/


Sharon Spano:

Website: sharonspano.com

Book: thetimemoneybook.com

Events: sharonspano.com/workshops

Contact: sharon@sharonspano.com

Twitter: twitter.com/SharonSpano