Cheryl LongHello everyone, and welcome to my new monthly blog! These musings will uncork everything from people profiles to weddings to behind-the-scenes glimpses of our venues. As you’ll discover, there’s no end to the excitement going on here at Sassafras Springs Vineyard and Winery, including our latest addition, the Lodge at the Winery. We get to be part of so many splendid celebrations in every season of the year, and with fall just around the corner, you won’t “beleaf” all the fun events we’ll be rolling out. Be sure to like and visit our Facebook page often to see the happenings.

Today I’m catching my breath and sitting down to write this (long overdue) blog because I simply have to share my heart with you. As co-owner with Gene of this beautiful 60-acre jewel nestled in the Sassafras Springs valley, I can’t begin to describe the pleasure I feel looking out at the vineyard, the rolling hills, the creek, the stately trees. And then there are the venues, each one so amazing and unique, like the Stables, the Chapel Ruins, the Tasting Room and the Lodge. Joy and gratitude well up inside when I think of how blessed we were to end rewarding careers in the insurance business and step into this dream.

But wonderful as these spaces and places are, they’re not the nexus. They’re not what make SSV&W the destination of 3,000 people annually or the reason we win NWA’s Best of the Best awards year after year. I don’t say this to boast. What matters most to me, Gene and all of us who keep this business running is you, our highly-favored guests! And frankly, it’s you who keep us charged and always reaching for excellence and improvement.

Whether it’s a big event like a wedding, corporate dinner, family reunion — or a small one, like friends stopping by for a wine tasting — we want you to have a Wow! experience. That’s been our desire since we opened the winery in 2014. Every member of the Sassafras Springs staff has this mindset. Take Derek, my son and our winemaker, who says, “To see the delighted and often thoughtful expressions on the faces of visitors as they taste the wine Mother Nature and I have created together is poetic.”

His wife, Sarah, is our wedding and event planner, and to her, creating that Wow is everything. “My job is to make sure every event is exactly what the client envisioned. The bottom line is that you should always leave a situation or conversation better than you found it. It doesn’t take much to make someone smile by leaving a good impression or improving their day.”
My other son, Drew, the general manager prizes “excellent customer service,” along with “family and great wine.”

You and the Wow

I think a lot about what goes into making an experience beautiful and unforgettable. So, what is the “Wow” experience? It’s when the customer says … “Wow, I was not expecting that. Wow, can you believe that?” Each one of our employees is directed to try to create a wow sensation in some way or another because we know our visitors want to enjoy themselves when they arrive and should be treated special.

I’d love to know what those Wow ingredients are for you, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. And stay tuned for next month’s pour.