Bettina Doulton isn't a fan of the spotlight. When greeting a recent visitor to the Lincolnville vineyard she owns and operates, the 45-year-old was quick to introduce her staff, without whom she and the business would be "mediocre," she says. When talking about Cellardoor's rapid growth since she bought the vineyard in 2007, she credits other businesses in Maine's food industry, the community and the "guests" — her preferred term for customers — never tooting her own horn.
But it's hard not to notice the energetic Doulton, who on that recent weekday morning was bustling around the vineyard's renovated 200-year-old barn in a chic black-and-charcoal plaid jacket, calling out jokes to staff members and popping behind the wraparound bar to offer a taste of the vineyard's newest flavor, called Serendipity, a Riesling made with 20% Maine maple syrup. As she talks about her hopes for Maine's burgeoning wine industry, she leans in close, her eyes lighting up. "The Maine wine industry right now makes up less than 1% of all wine sales in the state, and gosh darn it, my goal is the industry will grow."
Doulton is well-known for this energy — which, like maple syrup into wine, she's been infusing into the Lincolnville area and the state's hospitality industry. In her two-plus-year history at Cellardoor, she's not only reinvigorated the vineyard, but launched a number of community- and hospitality-based events all with the aim of bringing attention to the midcoast community, fellow Maine business owners and her peers on Maine's new wine trail, launched last year.
But some Lincolnville-area community members say Doulton's progressive approach is not always universally appreciated, sometimes eliciting a "That's not how we usually do things" response. But Doulton waves that away, citing overwhelming interest in a new event the vineyard launched just this month — a tented dinner and dance for 156 people in Cellardoor's fields — that the community, the Camden-Lincolnville-Rockport Chamber and area chefs and musicians all agreed to support. "For the most part people know my intentions are good, and I think that's really helped," she says.
Doulton, a money manager for Fidelity Investments in Boston in her past life, has worked hard to showcase the talents of other businesses in Maine, hosting cooking classes with local chefs, and weekly tastings that pair the vineyard's wine with other artisan food. This month, the vineyard expanded its third annual harvest festival — which began in 2007 as a thank you to the community for its support — to encompass the entire town, making it Lincolnville's first fall event. "We want it to be as much or more about the town and the other businesses here in this area," Doulton says. "It's not just about Cellardoor."
Since taking over the vineyard, Doulton has expanded its wine selection to 15, boosted its staff to 20 and established a retail location and tasting room in Rockport called the Villa. Next year, Doulton hopes to build a new wine-making facility that would offer tours and tastings, benefiting not only her own company but other area businesses, creating jobs, helping local farmers and generating interest in other wineries in the state. And for Doulton, that's the definition of success. "I'm a strong believer that as we collaborate and present the wine trail as a collective, it's not a zero sum game — it will attract more visitors to all of us."