Meet Our Team
Charles “Charlie” Stephenson
Any winery operation would be hard pressed to succeed without a knowledgeable winemaker. Luckily for Rosedale Farms & Vineyards that’s exactly what we have with Charlie. As winemaker and vineyard manager, Charlie brings to the table more than 20 years of winemaking experience. He has have proven to be invaluable and has a talent for bringing out the very best from the grapes we grow. Our list of competition medals and awards from Regional, New England, and National competitions stands as testimony to Charlies' abilities.
Rosedale proprietors, Marshall and Lynn Epstein, were first introduced to Charlie’s wines in the late 1990’s at a wine tasting held by Charlie and his wife, Linda. The tasting was at their own vineyard in Simsbury, north of Rosedale Farms. It was there that the idea of Rosedale Vineyards began to grow.
It takes three years for a newly planted vine to first produce a meaningful amount of grapes. It is critical to select which varieties to plant, correctly orient the rows, and select the correct type of trellising, as well as managing the development. In response to the winter temperatures of Connecticut, and micro-climate, Rosedale specializes in French Hybrids (often a cross between classic European varietals and an American vine that is more winter-hardy). Charlie’s winemaking style favors reds that are fruit forward with subdued tannins, and his whites tend to be bright, and crisp, which pair beautifully with classic New England seafood cuisine.
Charlie says: “What one hears and reads about wines can sometimes be intimidating, but it need not be. Ultimately, it all comes down to what aspects of a wine you find pleasing. Always be open-minded to trying a wine you haven’t tasted before. We look forward to you tasting Rosedale wines, and experiencing the unique characteristics of wines made from grapes grown in the Farmington River Valley.
William “Billy” Engelke Jr.
Billy has a very unique connection to Rosedale. He has been the Epstein family’s go-to mechanic for quite some time. He started out fixing Marshall’s cars and then began on the farm’s plethora of mechanized assets. Billy has had careers in automotive repair, waste disposal, and construction so his skill set is very valuable to the farm. More recently, Billy has taken over the hydroponic operations at Rosedale Farms. He has learned an impressive amount about raising crops in a hydroponic setting. Billy’s favorite thing about operating the greenhouse is watching the fruits of his labor grow over time. A successful harvest provides a true sense of accomplishment.
The hydroponic greenhouse currently has capacity for 1440 heads of lettuce of varying types with plans to expand in the near future. Billy has implemented a critical rotation schedule that allows for our lettuce to always be fresh. His lettuce has become so popular that you can often find it at local area restaurants. Though the temperatures may soar over 120 degrees in the greenhouse, Billy maintains his cool with a strict schedule, allowing for proactive maintenance and planning for all a succesful hydorponic operation.
Billy says: “Try our Hydroponic Bibb Lettuce! It’s ten times better than anything you can get down at the supermarket!”
Resident Organic Grower
Bill comes to Rosedale with more than 40 years of organic growing experience. He studied agriculture at UCONN and UMASS, and is well-versed in the intricacies of organic growing practices. He is currently operating two trial plots here on the farm. One of them is USDA Organic Certified, and the other is “Transitional-Organic”. Organic certification can only be granted for land that has been free of all chemicals (fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide) for more than 3 years. Transitional-Organic refers to land that meets those requirements, but does not yet meet the time requirement. Bill originally became interested in the organic movement while working a summer job at a fertilizer plant at college.
Bill’s tip: Deer are the worst pest to deal with. They nibble on your crops unpredictably and can cause some serious damage. Sprinkle wood ash on the tops of your plants, it’s non-toxic, and as they typically lick before they eat, this will keep them away, not liking the taste of ash. Make sure to sprinkle it on after it rains or if it’s been really windy. An added bonus is that the ash makes safe, organic fertilizer.