(From L to R): Aaron Sizemore & David Armstrong; Co-owners of Nomad Wine Works (Katie Bardou)
David Armstrong and Aaron Sizemore never imagined that a casual conversation would lead them to start making wine in the urban jungle of High Point showrooms and burgeoning social district at the aptly named, Nomad Wine Works.
David, the owner of another beloved High Point wine spot, The Brewer’s Kettle, knew Aaron for quite some time before the two decided to undergo a new business venture. Aaron, who has a degree in printmaking and spent seven years in design in the home furnishings industry designing fabric and rugs, later received an education in brewing distillation before opening Radar Brewing Company in Winston-Salem.
“One day, I brought Aaron in to help me look at a new space for a spot at one of my bottle shops,” David reflects. “I just kind of mentioned the idea of making wine, and the next thing you know, that’s what we were talking about.”
Photo by Traci Lester
From the beginning, it was clear that the two brought the right skills to the table not only to make the perfect glass of wine, but to create a space and a concept unlike any other in High Point. With an emphasis on both “taste and aesthetics,” the two had a vision for a spot that would include both a wine making and wine tasting.
“Both of us have different aspects and we work well together,” David says, “it just meshes well.”
Aaron had a deep knowledge of the mechanics of the equipment needed to make the wine, as well as a keen eye for interior design and atmosphere. David, a “jack of all trades,” had already launched a string of successful bottle shops with plenty of tasting opportunities. For these two entrepreneurs and wine connusiers, pairing their strengths ended up creating the perfect bouquet. And the perfect place for this micro-winery concept to flourish? High Point.
“We looked at other places,” David remembers, “but I never really wanted to go anywhere else.”
However, the vision was specific in finding the “perfect space” for their winery. The price needed to be right, and the space had to capture the spirit of the new endeavor. After a year of searching, they were pleasantly surprised to find their space in downtown High Point, in an area normally reserved for furniture showrooms. But as High Point’s social district has grown and expanded, so has the opportunity for new businesses downtown.
So, what is a micro-winery exactly? The concept hails from the West Coast where urban wineries have both tasting rooms and on-site facilities that produce wine. This seasoned NC pair imported this concept to the south. While micro-wineries don’t grow produce from a vineyard located on site, they use fruit grown elsewhere to age great wine. Micro-wineries are limited in production by what their physical space can accommodate.
Since the product is outsourced, David and Aaron use frozen fruit in their wine – and they’ll be the first to admit: they were both skeptics about this decision in the beginning. The berries they use at Nomad are crushed and then frozen before they are sent out. But after seeing the care that goes into the product – crushing the berries, immediately freezing, removing stems, letting it macerate – all means that the fruit is surprisingly is fresh when it’s ready to be turned from fruit to wine.
David and Aaron have formed relationships with their suppliers and growers and admit trusting them is very important.
“We have two main suppliers,” David says. “One is an 80-year-old farmer in Oregon named Peter. We found him online because he supplies brewing and wine making supplies. You email him, he calls you, if you have a question, he calls you, and he calls on Oregon Time!”
Photo by Traci Lester
But the pair as also met suppliers as closeby as Winston-Salem, which allows them to get the fruit they need even more quickly and the collaborate with regional businesses on their product.
Together, David and Aaron are learning that in wine making, the journey of getting to the final taste is part of the fun. They reflect that they are learning to trust the process and find outlets for creative decision making along the way to truly set their wines apart.
“You’re making decisions throughout the process,” David says. “And little decisions affect the outcome of the style of the wine. You can take the same grapes and treat them 10 different ways, or just even just change the temperature a little bit, and that the outcome is a little different.”
Photo by Traci Lester
Nomad produces several varieties of wine, but one specialty flavor for Aaron is their signature mead. Aaron describes it as “honey wine,” called wine because it is fruit and sugar based. Once the honey is fermented in a beverage some of the original sweet and distinct flavors are still present. Their biggest producer is in Hawaii so a bit of island flavor will be in each glass.
From musk wines inspired by the Pacific Northwest to sweet wines, (“Like folks like it in North Carolina,” David teases), Nomad Wine Works wants to expose their customers to a variety of flavors. They have partnered with some big mountain orchards for apple varieties, as well as ingredients from all over the country, bringing the best of the best when it comes to wine to High Point, NC.
The taste and aesthetics of wine is infused into the vision for Nomad itself. That’s why the team prioritizes giving their customer and experience unlike any other in the Triad. Even if you gravitate towards the same style of wine, Aaron, David, and their staff want to pour glasses that surprise and delight their customers, opening their eyes (and their palate!) to new flavors.
That unique experience is also played out in Nomad’s interior, inspired both by the aesthetic of a big city and the comfortable, relaxing feel of a neighborhood haunt.
“The aesthetics is kind of what I like to focus on more,” Aaron says. “It’s not the same sort of thing that you might get somewhere else.”
Nomad produces several varieties of mead, some with a bit of a Hawaiian flavor in each glass. (Traci Lester)
And from the high ceilings, to the natural light, to the vibrant artwork, to the outdoor patio with wrought iron works – the space allows guests to enjoy the city life in the growing, bustling social district of downtown High Point. The space can even be rented for private events.
While David and Aaron make the perfect pairing of partners for this journey, their dreams are helping grow something new and exciting in the downtown of High Point. Nestled in the social district, the pair also hopes the space continues to drive locals and visitors to see High Point’s downtown as a destination for more activity all year around. The goal? That there will soon be thriving restaurants and uptown living that pair well with their micro-winery as a stop on the foodie journey in the Social District/Showroom district in High Point.
Photo by Traci Lester
The future has plenty of time to ferment: with ideas ranging from whole sale products to their own farm to grow grapes. But for now, David says they want to “focus on what we’re doing because it takes time to really dial in.”
Wanderers in their own right, David and Aaron laugh when asked how they came up with the name Nomad Wine Works.
“It just arrived,” Aaron smiles. Much like a Nomad, the name wandered up, but Aaron and David are working with intentionality to bring something fresh and full of flavor to our city. And the name just fits for this pair who’s dream of a maker space and a tasting space has become a reality.
“Both of us have different aspects and we work well together. It just meshes well.”
David Armstrong, Co-Owner of Nomad Wine Works
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