Agriculture, farming, and community have continued to remain at the forefront of how Flag Hill Distillery & Wine build their business. In 1987 Flag Hill transitioned from a dairy farm to a vineyard with the planting of the first grapes on their property. Set in the town of Lee, New Hampshire, Flag Hill became a winery in 1990 and would later expand to distill vodka in 2004. Flag Hill Distillery & Winery prides itself on developing quality products that pair the tradition of the past with the innovation of the future by constantly challenging themselves to be better.
As the owners of Flag Hill, Brian Ferguson, and his wife Maddie Ferguson have continued to transform how customers engage with their business by hosting weddings, offering tastings, and tours. The Fergusons have committed to ensuring Flag Hill reflects New Hampshire’s unique culture by sourcing their ingredients from businesses within their community. They have partnered with local neighbors like the Coppal House Farm to grow grain for their distillation process and use The Lamprey River to produce grapes for their vineyard.
We sat down to chat with Brian about owning a distillery and winery, how his website helps inform visitors of their business, and what Flag Hill will be bringing customers in 2021!
Tell us the story behind you and your wife becoming the owners of Flag Hill
“I had been working here for a couple of years and the previous owner was looking to exit. My wife and I were in the process of beginning a partnership in PA to start a distillery. When this was presented it felt like the perfect situation. We already knew the business and purchasing it solved the biggest challenge of opening up a distillery – having your own inventory.”
How would you describe Flag Hill in 3 words?
“Precision farm beverage.”
How does Flag Hill embody the spirit of New Hampshire?
“We like to do things ourselves. Actually make things vs. just slap a label on someone else’s work.”
What types of events do you host on the property?
“Just about everything. We focus predominately on weddings with over 110 guests. We also do a lot of corporate functions. Our farm is the perfect resource for work retreats or company education days.”
Congrats on your recent awards as the best local wine story and distillery, what makes Flag Hill stand out from the competition?
“We focus on the fundamental pieces. We have a saying at Flag Hill, “what you get out can’t be better than what you put in”. This intense focus on the inputs to our products helps us have unique perspectives at every decision point which drives the quality of our products.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to follow their passion?
“I’m a bad person to answer this question. I had it very easy. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do and I was focused on it from a relatively young age. For me there was never any other choice, this is what I was going to do. So, probably just be incredibly focused, work double the number of hours of anyone around you that wants to do the same thing, and everything else seems to fall into place.”
What resolutions do you have for your small business in 2021?
“The same as every year. Give more people the opportunity to be happy.”
What seasonal drinks or spirits can customers look forward to as we move from winter to spring?
“Our Favorite! The Maple Manhattan. It’s 2 parts Flag Hill Straight Rye Whiskey, 1 part Flag Hill Sugar Maple Liqueur. Finish however you like your manhattan.”
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
“Pretty boring – just coffee or tea.”
When did you build your website?
“We did a rebuild in 2018.”
How did you build it? Did you hire a developer? DIY? Use a builder?
“We hired a developer who was extremely interactive with us.”
What part of this process did you find most difficult? Most simple?
“The most difficult part honestly is trying to pick a starting point. There are so many things that need to be done that just getting moving is challenging. The simplest part was probably the review of the website. Once we had it built then we could be picky about what we liked and didn’t like. Judgment is far simpler than creativity.”
How does your website play a role in your business?
“The majority of what our website does is give direction. It gives directions to us, directions on where to buy, directions on how to contact us with questions. Some people go to a website to browse, but I think most people go mainly to get answers. We wanted to make getting those answers as simple as possible.”
Check out everything Flag Hill is doing online.