For Regina Ruppert, it’s not easy to separate work and home life. She and her husband, Lee, opened Serenity Valley Winery outside St. Louis in 2006. Since 2011, the winery has been run from their property in Fulton.
“Never in a million years would I have dreamed of this, but the year our daughter graduated...I became an empty nester, turned 50 and had cancer all at the same time," Regina said. "And it wasn't a very good year. And my girlfriends suggested we look into doing this since my husband’s hobby was always winemaking.”
That was in 2005. In 2006, based on her girlfriends’ recommendation, Regina and her husband researched wineries and opened in an O'Fallon, Missouri strip mall.
"People in Missouri don't accept strip malls for wineries, and it was invisible. It was a beautiful strip mall, but it just wasn't where we needed to be,” Regina said. By 2011, their daughter had settled in Columbia, started teaching in the school of nursing, and that led Regina and her husband to start looking for a new location in the Columbia area.
Regina says there are sometimes conflicts when she and her husband work together, but they always resolve them.
“It's never easy to work with your spouse, because you're going to have disagreements. Sometimes they happen in front of customers, and you just have to laugh it off and say can you tell that we're married, because that's a typical marriage,” she said. “You're not going to agree 100% of the time, especially when you throw in the business aspects. But most of the time it works really well, because I do the front-end things, and he does the wine-making and the more technical things.”
According to Regina, people who visit Serenity Valley Winery not only get a taste of the wine, but of the atmosphere as well.
“One of the things that we hear from people is as you drive up the driveway how beautiful it is. And it is gorgeous. It's serene, and the name fits perfectly for our environment here,” she said. “But once they're here, and they're in, and they're tasting the wines, they're very impressed with the quality of our wines, because we're not using Missouri grapes. Not everyone loves Missouri grapes, and we get a lot of compliments on our wine. It's very smooth, and the sweet wines aren't syrup sweet, the dry wines aren't real harsh. You can't please everybody. We don't make a heavy heavy oaky wine with the bites, but otherwise, most people are very pleasantly surprised.”