CONVERSE — Before the two-story carriage house on Marion Street in Converse became a haven for wine lovers, it was almost an antique store, almost a restaurant and almost a coffeehouse.
About 15 years ago, Rick and Betty Jo Moulton were doing a wealth audit and realized they weren’t going to have enough money to retire.
He travels across the state doing life safety inspections for a living. She’s been a legal secretary in Kokomo for 25 years.
Between the two of them, they had a modest retirement account, Rick said. But it wasn’t enough to live comfortably in their golden years. They decided they needed another income source.
Their financial planner’s advice? Start a business.
And that’s where Oak Hill Winery's story began.
“We talked about opening an antique store, but several have opened and closed here,” Rick said. “We talked about opening a restaurant, but we felt like that was covered.”
Their next big idea was to open a coffee shop. They were serious about this one, he said. They thought it could work.
Someone else thought it could work, too.
“No joke, six months later someone else opened one up,” he said.
They never even considered opening a winery until they visited some friends who owned one in Madison.
The Moultons told their friends they were trying to start a business. The winery owners said they had the perfect solution. Their friends should open a winery, too.
At the time, there weren’t any other wineries in north central Indiana.
Rick and his wife had been avid wine drinkers for many years and wine-making hobbyists for almost as long.
But making one or two gallons of wine is nothing, Rick said. When you’re making 200 or 300 gallons at a time, it becomes much more complex.