Red Bandana Winery
I see our relationship being much much more than just a check. Everyone I have dealt with … has been supportive and informative. They believe in the vision and understand the process. The Progress Fund is like a family venture. I feel at home with these guys.
Artists must follow their vision, and painter Kathleen Flaherty’s took her from Pittsburgh to Clarion County’s forests and farms. There she met Mike Hall, and their fishing trips through Erie’s wine country helped transform Kathleen Flaherty into Kate Hall. Far from the urban art market, she wondered: “How can I stay here and be successful?” Their winery visits brought inspiration: “I said wow, I really want to do something like this,” Kate says. “My vision is to have my art gallery, make wine and sell wine, and have an atmosphere that is akin to the art.”
At first, life didn’t mirror art. Banks told Kate they weren’t lending to start-ups. But the Clarion University Small Business Development Center helped her with “the miles of paperwork required by the state for opening a winery,” she said. The Clarion Chamber of Commerce introduced her to The Progress Fund, which initially loaned $137,500 and provided an additional $80,000 as the winery grew.
Kate and Mike hired local craftsmen to use area timber to build Red Bandana Winery, named for the signature red bandana worn by coal miners who made a stand on Blair Mountain in West Virginia, where hundreds died fighting against their slave driven employers in 1919. They’re buying juices from the Erie vineyards that spurred their dream, and Kate’s art adorns the walls and bottle labels. Folks can enjoy wine and cheese around a fireplace, or have a cigar on the deck, uniting what Kate calls “all those things of comfort and leisure that bring one’s soul together.”
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