Project Description

Noel, a chemist by day, is CEO and winemaker at Aaronap Cellars. The company handcrafts wines from harvest to bottle, and he plans to release the first products in spring 2014. It’s the fulfillment of a longtime dream.

“I got introduced to wine while going to grad school in California. My friends opened my eyes to it,” he recalls. “I fell in love with the vineyards and wineries out there. After collecting wine for about 12 years, I woke up one day and realized that it’s really just chemistry in a bottle.”

From there, Noel bought a kit to make his first wine, which tured out as rocket fuel but hooked him on a new hobby. He then spent about eight years making wine from a variety of grapes and fruit. Recently, he decided to turn his hobby into something more serious.

“The time was right to do this out of my basement as a part-time business,” he says. “It’s a way to break into the commercial side of wine on a very small scale and hopefully to grow from there.”

Only a Couple Minor Bumps

Shawna first saw Custom signs on lawns in Arlington while commuting for her work in occupational therapy. After checking out our website and customer reviews on Angie’s List, she and Noel gave us a call.

President Bill Farnsworth met with Noel and Shawna to review their architect’s plans for finishing the basement. The beauty of the space was that, while unfinished, it wascompletely open and bare. Like working from a clean slate.

The project itself was fairly smooth. Two minor bumps came up along the way: 1) The Building Department unexpectedly required a “two-hour fire barrier” betweenthe winery and the rest of the home. After doing some re-search, we discovered that simply meant installing a couple extra layers of drywall. 2) Midway through the project, it became apparent that the heating and A/C system needed an upgrade. Our HVAC expert was able to accommodate the request on the flat an affordable price.

Noel wasn’t interested in having a lot of bells and whistles. First and foremost, the winery had to be functional.

“In that respect, I really appreciate a design feature that came from Bill: reinforced fibeglass-paneled walls, which are washable,” offers Noel. “They look really good, and they create a clean-looking – and cleanable – space. And Custom did an excellent job with the floorsealer to give me a nice, workable floor that I could eat of!”

Noel also credits Bill for another idea that has become a project highlight. “It works so well that I completely forget about it,” says Noel, “but the use of the Saniflo toilet with a built-in ejector pump inthe bathroom and a separate ejector pump in the winery to pump the wastewater upgrade to the septic system really helped keep costs in line by avoiding digging into the slab floor.”

First Batches Already Underway

Noel has nothing but good things to say about Custom (“I’ve been recommending them to anyone who’ll listen”). We wrapped up the work in early May, and Noel and Shawna received final Board of Health approval for their business around the same time.

The next phase of our work will involve finishing the new greatroom, bedroom and bathroom for the basement. But for now, Noel is looking forward most to getting the winery up and running. He is purchasing grapes from vineyards in Massachusetts, the West Coast and South America. After crushing, de-stemming, fermenting and pressing the grapes, he will store the wines in oak barrels for nine to 12 months.

Noel has already started his first batches of wine: a sparkling cranberry wine and a maple syrup sweet dessert wine. Also soon to be in the works: a malbec and a carmenere. We wish Noel and Shawna the best of luck with Aaronap Cellars!

Project Details

Client The Powell-Hollebone Home
Location Westford, MA