Wow, Meow. I have some very special guests here today. They’ve come all the way from a winery in Appleton, New York up near Niagara Falls. I’ve never been to a winery, and the closest I’ve come to imbibing anything alcoholic is when Alicia gave me some catnip as a treat. My author, Debbie, once gave her real life cats a bottle of catnip champagne on New Year’s. That must’ve made their whiskers real tipsy.
As a departure of my interviewing a cat character from a book, I thought speaking with these felines from the winery would be of interest to my readers.
I’m happy to introduce my guests, Slinky, Pewter, and Skipper who are littermates and Tootsie who is also part of the family. Their owner and significant person is Margo Sue Bittner.
Hi, there Kitties. Thank you all for joining me on my blog today. Please tell me about the history of your winery, its name and where it’s located and also how long it’s been around and if it has a a website.
(Slinky said): The Winery at Marjim Manor opening in August 2004. We are located in Appleton, NY right along Lake Ontario, about 40 minutes from Niagara Falls. We do mostly fruit wines because the owners husband, Jim, grows tree fruit: apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines. (Margo and Jim makes Marjim). Our website is www.MarjimManor.com. We ship wine all over.
Our winery is haunted and we’ve been on Ghost Hunters. Our owner wrote a book called “The Legend of Appleton Hall” which contains all the ghost stories written about the place. She’s working on the “Real History of Appleton Hall” now. She likes to say her job is pouring wine and telling ghost stories.
Gosh, that sounds pawsome. How long have you lived at the winery? Besides chasing ghosts, do you catch mice at the winery?
(Pewter purred): We’ve been at the winery for three years. We lived next door, but when the people moved, they left us and our parents behind. Our parents ran off, so William Shakespeare brought each of us to the winery. He and Meshuganeh took good care of us until they crossed the rainbow bridge. Tootsie was found at a neighbor’s house. The lady was very sick and called us when Tootsie showed up on her porch. Mom took her in.
We love to catch mice, moles, snakes. Mostly, we leave them at the back door for Mom to find. Slinky even caught a squirrel once.
Great backstory, and I love the adventures you describe with the wildlife in your area. Getting back to the winery itself, what type of wine does it produce?
(Skipper answered): We make mostly fruit wines and have won many gold medals. The Cat’s Meow is a dry white; Katapalooza has lots of cats on the label and is a sweet blend. Cherry Concerto; Pear Made in Heaven, Applely Ever After are other wines. Some wines tie into the ghost story: Shubal’s Sunset, Sophia’s Sunrise, Lord of the Manor, Lady in the Window. We sell the wines at the winery, at farmers markets, at liquor stores and ship to many states.
Purrfect. I also heard the rumor that my author’s cat, Oliver, was put on one of your labels. Is that true?
(Tootsie meowed): Yes. Our owner thought Debbie would enjoy that. She also sending her the bottle of wine with Oliver’s label.
I’m sure she will. Too bad I can’t get my photo on a label, but I’m only a fictional cat. However, since Oliver and I are both handsome Siamese boys, we bear a remarkable resemblance, so it’s the next best thing.
What do each of you like most about living at a winery? Are there any special events that your winery sponsors during the year?
(Slinky replied): People come and visit us. They like our Facebook page (The Cats of Marjim Manor). Some friends bring us treats like catnip pillows and snacks. The local SPCA came here to take a picture for their calendar.
(Pewter commented ): Also, our winery has 100 windows with big, wide window sills. It is so much fun to lie in the sun.
(Skipper responded): We do wine and food pairing dinners. Ours are murder mysteries: Glo Knight and the Seven Gnomes, Mall’s Fair in Love and War (all the stores are euphemisms for being drunk); Three Sheets to the Wind (A circus), and about a dozen more. We do three a year. We also do Victorian Teas and craft classes. We put out enewsletters with different themes: all our events, about the wines, about the murder mysteries, about the Victorian Teas, even birthday and anniversary ones for customers.
(Tootsie added): We are also part of the Niagara Wine Trail and do events with the other wineries.
What fun, and I love Pewter’s description of the windows. They have a spot for me on the bay window of the Cobble Cove Library’s Children’s Room, and Debbie also has a bay window in her kitchen where her cat, Stripey likes to sit. Oliver prefers the enclosed outdoor room that has large windows in front of which he can sun and watch the birds from a safe distance.
How did it come about that you got your photos on the wine labels?
(Slinky explained): All our wines have fun names. Mom likes cats. Then she found out that wines with animals sell more. Once we figured out how to personalize the labels, we started changing the label a lot. The owner’s daughter, Janet works at the winery and she takes care of that. We do have one wine with a dog on in: True Blue. It is a blueberry wine. Jim likes dogs, so we had to be fair and give him a wine with his dog on it.
MOL (Meow Out Loud). I can relate to that. I have a dog co-star in my books, and I plan to interview some dog characters, too, if any are interested in appearing on my blog. After all, you can’t play animal favorites, although cats are the superior species. Even a fictional feline knows that.
Do you know any other cat wineries or wines with cat labels on them?
(Pewter put in): Another winery on our wine trail has cats on the labels. Other wineries around here have dogs and horses on the labels.
How interesting. I know there are a lot of animal lovers and, just like books featuring pets are popular, I guess it works for wines, too.
What advice would you give other cats who might want to live on a winery or have their photos featured on wine labels?
(Skipper advised): Be prepared for lots of love. Sometimes, you may not want scratchies, then it is OK to sit and pose. People will take your picture. When the fireplace is on, make sure to stretch out wide so people tell you how cute you are. If you want to be on a wine label, make sure you pose with your eyes open and sit up tall. Then you get more space.
It looks like Oliver took that advice. I saw the label, and he fills it out nicely.
Tell us a little about your owner? You may include her photo if she doesn’t mind.
(Tootsie told): Margo graduated from Cornell University in 1980. At first she and Jim were dairy farmers then switched to fruit farming. After Jim started selling fruit to other wineries, they thought maybe they should start a winery. The fruit farm is about 500 acres and their two sons, Kevin and David work there. Janet works at the winery. She is in charge of wholesale and has the wines in about 150 liquor stores and restaurants. About 30,000 people visit every year. In the past, Margo was on the local school board and active in PTA. Today, she is in the Barker Lions Club and is in AM Lockport Toastmasters where she holds the Distinguished Toastmasters degree. She also participated in American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Communication Camp and advocates for agriculture.
Wow, Meow, You all must be quite proud of her.
(Slinky stated): We certainly are, Sneaky.
I believe you mentioned that your author and the winery are on social media. Can you give the links in case our readers want to follow them? I’m sure Debbie will. She may even want to work a winery into one of our upcoming Cobble Cove mysteries.
(Pewter exclaimed): Of Claws. Here’s the list.
Winery Website: http://www.marjimmanor.com/
Thanks Kitties for such an interesting interview, and best whiskers to your owner on selling lots of Cat’s Meow and other wines from The Winery at Marjim Manor. A catnip toast to you all. Cheers!