Small Business Spotlight: Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery

Small businesses are vital to our communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

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Sunset on Locust Grove at Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery.

Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery is more than a winery, it’s a passion project for one local family and a truly special experience for visitors to the Hocking Hills region. Whether you come to spend the night in their guest suite or just to sip a glass of one of their signature wines, you likely will not want to leave.

The boutique winery sits atop Locust Grove, one of the scenic rolling hills of northern Vinton County. Mark and Margit Chevalier purchased the farm and its 1883 home when their four children were small. At the time, they were focused on giving their family a healthy country life while finding ways to keep the land working. Now the kids are grown and the couple have found a new way to work the land and to build a business that fills a need in the community.

They exude hospitality and charm as well as excitement that guests can now come and enjoy the literal fruits of their labor over the last ten years.

Mark is a retired educator who Margit says has “just a wonderful palette.” She is a trained horticulturist with a vision for a vineyard and winery that celebrates the grapes, the land and the human connection to both.

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Mark and Margit Chevalier are the owners of Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery in the Hocking Hills.

The winery just opened to the public in May but Mark said the process began a decade ago when they planted the first grapes. The 2014 Polar Vortex brought bitter cold that killed some of their French varieties and encouraged them to select all heirloom and hybrid varieties that grow well in this climate.

grapes and sky

Margit speaks with passion for all the grapes they grow.

Margit has an intimate knowledge of all their grapes, how they grow, required care and even their history. She also speaks with a motherly affection for their grapes. “They’re my babies!” she laughed. “My four babies are all grown up but now I have 5,000 of them to care for and help grow.”

Their wine list currently consists of Catawba, Norton, Seyval Blanc, Chambourcin and Grower’s White which they say is “a vineyard blend of estate grown hybrids finished in a soft, easy-drinking slightly sweet style.”

New wines will be added in coming years including Chardonel, Marquette, Itasca, Alexander and Marechal Foch. There is already a wait list for the Alexander which is expected in 2022.

The winery has plenty of room for guests both inside and out. The centerpiece inside is the bar, handmade by Mark with wood from a maple tree on a neighboring farm. Ash shelving, also of local origin, displays wine bottles that feature a label that Mark designed. Indoor seating welcomes visitors to stay for a while but the real centerpiece is the outdoor view. From the deck or a glider in the yard, guests can enjoy the breathtaking view of the vineyard and the rolling hills beyond.

It’s the perfect place to gather with friends or to enjoy an intimate evening for two.

Those who wish to stay longer can actually rent the Winery Loft which features a full kitchen, king bed, sofa bed and private entrance to accommodate up to four guests. Two private decks were designed to showcase the surroundings – one deck is placed for enjoying the sunrise while the other is available for optimal sunset viewing.

interior loft

Extend your stay at the farm by renting the loft over the winery. With a private entrance and proximity to the Hocking Hills State Parks, it is an ideal place to get away.

Situated near the Hocking Hills State Parks, it is the ideal location for a relaxing vacation or even a staycation for those looking to take a break close to home.

While their children are young adults who have begun finding their own way in the world, they all have been involved in the business and helping with its success. “Everything we do here is important. We are careful about what we grow and what we make and always make the best we can. It isn’t just our product, it’s our name on that bottle,” Mark explained.

Margit echoed his thoughts. “We pride ourselves that this isn’t just a winery. It’s a vineyard and everything is from our land. We have never bought a single grape from another vineyard,” Margit said. “You’ve never tasted grapes like this, wine like ours because it tastes like the work and love we’ve put in here.”

They have plans to someday serve some food but currently invite guests to bring their own. “Bring a picnic! We welcome everyone to bring their own food, a basket of bread and cheese or even a pizza! We don’t mind,” Margit said. “This is our own slice of paradise, our own Garden of Eden and we want people to come here and enjoy it. We want them to stay and experience what we live with every day.

As the midsummer sun sets, illuminating acres of grapevines for as far as the eye can see, their two border collies romp with a toy in the field and birds sing their final song of the day. Two out-of-town guests savor the moment from the deck and it really does feel like paradise.

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While 2020 hasn’t been an ideal time to open a new business, Margit said that their property is a perfect place to find some sense of normalcy. She pointed out there is ample room for guests to safely enjoy each other’s company and that social distancing is no trouble.

She recalled a Loft guest who recently brought her children from the city for an overnight stay. “She sat down at the campfire and you could just feel the weight of her worries leave. She said ‘this is the first time I’ve felt normal in I don’t know how long,’ and it made me happy,” Margit recalled. “It’s so important to me that people have that opportunity to just breathe and enjoy their surroundings.”

Visit Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Winery online for more information including hours and menu or to book a stay in the Winery Loft. Follow them on Facebook for their latest news and photos.

 

 

 

 

VCNB Opens New Jackson Branch Monday

Jackson coming soonMonday will be a banner day for our staff in Jackson as this will mark our first day of operation in a newly constructed branch. The new office is located at 471 McCarty Lane, just around the corner from the current Jackson branch.

VCNB President Mark Erslan said that he looks forward to opening the new branch to the public. “We are really excited about the completion of our new office in Jackson. The growth we’ve experienced in the limited time we’ve been in Jackson has exceeded our expectations,” he said.

The bank opened a loan office in a small space on Veterans Drive in 2016. It quickly became clear that there was a demand in Jackson for VCNB to have a full service bank and the Jackson County Banking Center opened in 2017. That space was quickly outgrown and ground was broken last year for this new facility.

Customers will appreciate the state-of-the art drive-thru system and drive-up ATM. The Intelligent Deposit ATM uses no envelopes, accepting deposits of cash and checks and giving customers same-day credit for up to $500 daily. Inside, personal bankers are trained to help customers with nearly any loan or deposit need. A kid’s corner will help keep little ones occupied while their parents do business, and a digital learning area will allow customers who prefer self-service to log into their VCNB online accounts, read account literature and do more on iPads.

Most of all, there is plenty of room in the 6,000 square foot facility for bankers to spread out and help their customers with respect to customer privacy and safety in socially distanced times. “We just can’t wait to service our Jackson County customers with a brand new office that features modern amenities and plenty of room. We’re very pleased with the outcome of the planning, design and construction and looking forward to the chance for everyone to see and experience the new facility,” Erslan said.

The current branch will be open through Friday. This location will be closed on Saturday morning so they can move into the new facility. Visit us in Jackson at 471 McCarty Lane beginning Monday, July 27. We look forward to serving you in our new branch!

 

Meet Your Banker: Callie Duhl

In our Meet Your Banker Series, we visit with Callie Duhl. Callie is the Branch Manager of our Jackson County Banking Center in Jackson.

Callie Duhl

Callie Duhl is the Branch Manager of our Jackson County Banking Center in Jackson.

Chat with Callie about her life and career and one thing is clear. She is devoted to her community, family and bank customers. The Jackson native has spent her entire life in Jackson, graduating from Jackson High School and building a long banking career before joining the VCNB Financial Family last year.

Like many VCNB Branch Managers, she started her career as a teller, working her way through a variety of positions including head teller, assistant manager and lender, seeing the banking business from a variety of angles. “I’ve done lending for most of my career and that’s what I like the best. It’s fun helping people get the things they need or want, the things that improve their lives,” she said.

Yet, this isn’t the life path Callie had envisioned for herself. As a lover of the outdoors, she has always enjoyed spending time caring for flowers, mowing and doing other outdoor work. “I never gave a thought to sitting behind a desk eight to ten hours a day. However, this is the path that God lead me down. My Grandpa always told me that God has a big sense of humor,” she exclaimed. “I’m right where I’m supposed to be and I’m glad to be here.”

Callie and her husband Alan have a fifty acre farm that keeps them busy. They have been married for 35 years and have one son. Their son works for the sheriff’s office and his wife is an RN. They have four young children who Callie adores.

She also is active as a founding member and treasurer of the Jackson Area Kiwanis. “Up until Covid hit we were staying busy in the community. It’s been different this summer but everything has been different,” she said.

Callie praised her customers for being so patient with lobby limitations during recent months. “Our customers have been just wonderful. So patient and kind to wait their turn. We couldn’t ask for better,” she said.

She takes customer service very seriously. “It’s important to me that we know our customers and that we do as much for them as we can,” she said. “Most of the time, when someone comes in, at least one of us knows their name and I think that’s important for people to feel comfortable coming in and doing business with us. We have all the technology anyone could want and we have the products they’re looking for but most people are really looking to make a connection with their banker.”

The branch will soon move to a new building, just around the corner from the current location. Construction is wrapping up at 471 McCarty Lane, just across the street from the BMV. “We can’t wait to move in and to welcome customers into the new office. It’s going to be wonderful!”

 

 

 

Earn Rewards Points With A Visa Platinum Credit Card

Earlier this month we told you about Rewards Checking and how so many of our customers are accessing uChoose Rewards®. These rewards points can be redeemed for cashback to your checking account, gift cards, experiences, and other things simply by doing regular debit card spending and banking.

Today we’re going to talk about our Visa® Platinum Credit Card and how it can be used for earning rewards as well!

Here for You BadgeOur points savvy customers will tell you that having both the credit card and the checking account linked to the same uChoose Rewards account allows them to accumulate points more quickly. That’s because credit card customers earn one point for every dollar spent on purchases.

To earn points, you must register your card with the uChoose site. If you have both Rewards Checking and a Visa Platinum Credit Card through VCNB, be sure to link those cards to the same uChoose account to watch your points accumulate more quickly.

Click here for terms, rates and other important details about the Visa Platinum Credit Card. Note that customers who hold only the credit card are not eligible for cash back but can still receive all the other rewards including gift cards, movie passes, travel and merchandise. Receive 1,000 bonus points when opening a new Visa Platinum Credit Card account.

Contact your local banker or visit any of our branches to apply for a credit card or to learn more about uChoose Rewards and the Visa Platinum Credit Card.

 

Meet Your Banker: Katy Hanes

Our Meet Your Banker series continues today with Katy Hanes who is the Branch Manager at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center on East Main Street in Lancaster.

Katy Hanes

Katy  Hanes is the Branch Manager of our Friendly Bremen Banking Center on East Main St. in Lancaster.

For Katy, her job, family and connection to the agricultural community are so closely intertwined, it is hard to separate the three. The Amanda area native grew up in a farm family and is happy that her job allows her to serve so many customers who are part of the local agricultural community.

She grew up on a crop and cattle farm, belonged to 4-H for 12 years, and learned to value the agricultural community so much that she went after a degree in Agricultural Business at Ohio State University. While she didn’t intend to become a banker, Katy said that the job gives her an opportunity to help lots of people and to use her experience in agriculture to specifically help area farmers.

“One of the things I appreciate about working for a community bank is that we get to know our customers and their unique needs. Growing up on a farm, I understand a farmer’s business and their needs. They don’t have to explain their life and the challenges to me the way they would to someone without that background,” she explained. “And it’s sort of fun when a customer comes in and they recognize me from 4-H. We’ve never met but they remember me as that little girl showing her steer at the fair years ago. It’s important for a banker to be able to relate to their customers and this is an area where I can definitely relate.”

Today Katy lives on a 140 acre farm with her husband Calvin and their two kids. They have about 75 cows and their calves and enjoy the farm life. The farm, work and family keep her busy but she does find time to enjoy the bank’s involvement in various community activities. Her kids, ages five and seven, both love horses and their practice and competitions keep the whole family on the go.

“I talk a lot about agriculture because that’s what I grew up with and that’s what I know best. It’s what I’m most passionate about but I really love getting to know all kinds of people. We live in a great community and that shows in the wonderful customers we have here!”

 

 

 

VCNB Employee Uses Kindness Rocks To Spread Beauty

20200315_215622“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

VCNB Accounting Manager Cathy Rutter has made it her personal mission to spread a message of kindness with her newfound talent of painting on something unexpected – rocks!

While vacationing in Florida last year, Cathy stumbled across a beautiful hand painted rock, known as a kindness rock. Kindness rocks are painted and hidden to be found. Their journeys can then be tracked on various forms of social media.

Cathy Rutter

VCNB Accounting Manager Cathy Rutter spreads beauty with kindness rocks.

This sparked a fire in Cathy to start an endeavor to become a painter even though she had never painted before. She gathered the essentials including paint, brushes and rocks for her canvas. “Some of my first projects looked like kids’ work,” she said recalling the process to her painting success. “It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it – turns out I have a gift I was able to develop and improve with work and determination.”

She developed her self-taught skills by studying other paintings and pictures for guidance. Nature is her inspiration including flowers, birds and scenery.

What started as a hobby has developed into a passion and one of her favorite ways to relax. Cathy has progressed from painting on dull creek rocks to sparkling Santorini stone. Her rocks are truly a work of art waiting to be found.

As Cathy’s journey of painting has evolved, so has her career with VCNB. She began as Management Trainee at The Friendly Bremen Bank nearly thirty years ago and has worked in several bank departments throughout her career.

She resides in Bremen with her husband Vince. Together they leave kindness rocks at various places, spreading kindness as they travel. Keep your eyes open for a painted treasure!

See below for a slideshow of her art.

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Meet Your Banker: Sue Ross

Our Meet Your Banker series continues today with Sue Ross who is the Branch Manager at our Franklin County Banking Center in Grove City.

Sue never intended to be a banker but after a forty year career there is no doubt that banking is her calling. Most of those years have been spent working for Grove City banks but the last five have been with VCNB.

Sue Ross

Sue Ross is the Branch Manager of our Franklin County Banking Center in Grove City.

She started her banking career eleven days after graduating from Utica High School. She actually began working in lending, indirect lending, risk management, equipment leasing, and trust.

Sue spent a few years in a corporate environment where bankers devote most waking hours to work. “You worked 55 to 65 hours per week and it was all about doing more. There was no work life balance so it was a pleasant adjustment coming here,” she said. “They say no one ever puts on your headstone that you should’ve worked a little more and it’s true!”

Instead, she appreciates the reasonable work schedule and focus on customer relationships at VCNB. “I love generational banking! You take good care of mom and dad and when the time comes, you develop a relationship with their child as they need a savings account and a first car loan. As they’re getting married and need a home, as they’re raising their own children, the cycle continues because you were first a trusted advisor for their parents,” she explained.

Sue and her husband Donald live on a five acre ranchette with all their kids – three horses, two dogs and a cat. They spend a lot of time caring for their critter kids as well as helping elderly friends and neighbors.

She is active with the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Chamber Foundation Scholarship Committee. Sue also prides herself on being a resource for local seniors, has volunteered at local nursing homes and is an avid bingo caller for Evans Senior Center in Grove City. She volunteers with the Refuge, providing financial education and budgeting assistance to women who are overcoming addiction.

There are two quotes that Sue draws from for inspiration. The first is “never allow yourself to be too busy to make someone feel special.” The other is an Albert Schweitzer quote. “He said ‘aim for service and success will follow’ and I just think that says it all. It has been a rewarding career because I truly love serving our customers. The true reward is getting to know them and building long, lasting relationships with people who become your friends and sometimes become like family.”

 

Reward Yourself With Rewards Checking At VCNB

If you use your debit card a lot and don’t have VCNB Rewards Checking, you are missing out on an opportunity to earn rewards for everyday purchases and other banking activities. This includes cash back, gift cards, travel credits and all sorts of merchandise.

How does Rewards Checking work? It’s simple!

With Rewards Checking you will receive UChoose Rewards® Points for every PIN and Signature based purchase you make with your debit card. You will receive one point for every $3 spent as well as 200 bonus points for 21 or more purchases.

Additional points are also offered for using Online Bill Pay, Direct Deposit and Automatic VCNB Loan Payments. Receive 500 bonus points annually for the life of the card and 1,000 bonus points for opening a new savings account. Use a Visa® Platinum Favor Credit Card to earn one point for every dollar spent.

You do have to sign up for a UChoose Rewards account and link your debit card and credit card to that account to begin earning points and to later redeem all those points for those great rewards you deserve!

There is a $7 monthly fee for this account that will be refunded if you either use your debit card for at least fifteen or more transactions a month or keep a combined balance of $5,000 or more in all of your VCNB accounts.

We know you work hard for your money. Why not put your VCNB account to work for you?

Existing customers can ask their personal banker to easily switch from their current account to a VCNB Rewards Checking. New customers can open a Rewards Checking account online, on VCNB Mobile or in their neighborhood VCNB branch. Get full details by visiting us online.

 

Small Business Spotlight: Crossroads Meats

Small businesses are vital to our communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

Crossroads Meats exterior

Crossroads Meats is a custom butcher shop and retail store on Main Street in Adelphi.

If you’re looking for fresh, good quality meat, a local butcher shop is the place to go. Crossroads Meats in Adelphi specializes in custom butchering but has a popular retail storefront as well. Here you’ll find everything you need to stock your freezer or to entertain guests at your next backyard barbeque.

The attention to detail that owner Noah Cross gives to his work, combined with an increasing demand for quality meat, has helped the shop develop an eager following of customers.

Noah grew up in his father’s butcher shop in rural Missouri, where he helped out while learning the trade. “Growing up, I thought I’d never butcher for a living. Why would I when there’s all kinds of exciting things to do? But it comes back to what you know and what you love and I really love what I do,” he said with a smile.

Yet, when Noah and his wife Ann had the opportunity to relocate to Ohio and start a new life with a newly settled Mennonite community, Noah wasn’t sure he wanted to continue in the business. ‘It’s long days and they’re hard days. It’s real physical work, especially in your arms,” he said.

So when they came to Ohio, he took up tree trimming and removal. He did that for a while but quickly learned this fair weather business didn’t keep him busy enough. So he returned to his roots and began processing deer on the side, growing this business to accommodate the community’s need. This side business quickly took off, causing him to buy the old hardware store in Adelphi and set up a butcher shop and retail store.

Here he focuses on custom cattle processing jobs which keeps him extremely busy. At this time, their custom work is booked through early 2021.

But many customers know Crossroads for their retail shop. Here, customers line up to buy everything from hamburger and steaks to handmade sausage and fresh marinated chicken.

“A lot of our business lately has come in because of COVID. They say there’s a meat shortage and a lot of people have come here because they couldn’t get what they want at the store. But once they try our product they say they’ll never go back to buying at the grocery. They say they’re spoiled now,” he said. “A lot of people don’t believe there’s a difference in the taste but there really is. And you can shout till you’re blue in the face but it doesn’t mean anything until they try it and taste the difference for themselves.”

When asked about the difference in fresh meat from a butcher shop and that from a grocery store, Noah said that part of the difference lies in geography and timing. “When you’re buying meat from the store, you might be buying something that was raised in Kansas and slaughtered in California. Then it still has to be transported to the store for you to buy it. I’m not saying that a Kansas animal isn’t as good as an Ohio one but animals don’t transport well dead or alive. By the time it gets to you, that really shortens the shelf life,” he explained.

There’s a sign in the store that seems to summarize his work philosophy. It reads “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy local and it can buy fresh.”

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Noah Cross and his employees take pride in the work they do, providing quality meats for the community. From left are Ginny Beachy, Twila Martin, Noah Cross and Jemima Zook.

That’s part of the reason he has begun raising his own cattle just down the road. “I like going from farm to table. I like feeding my own and knowing how it was cared for and that it just traveled a quarter mile down the road to get here. It’s important to me, knowing what I’m providing for people,” Noah said. “I have customers who have been up to see them and have already ordered cattle that isn’t even ready yet because they’re that confident it will be good.”

The meat they currently sell in the store comes from Heffelfinger’s Meats here in Ohio. Coolers are stocked with thick cut bacon, hamburger, steaks, chicken and pork chops. Noah’s employees make their own bratwurst, snack sticks, summer sausage, trail bologna, sausage links and sausage patties among other things. But some of their most popular items are already marinated and ready to cook. Chicken marinades include barbeque, garlic butter and southwest. He said their burgundy pepper New York strip steak and old fashioned dry rub bacon are especially popular too. Their seasoned hamburger patties are big sellers and can be purchased in smoky molasses, garlic tomato basil, and jalapeno cheddar.

Each Saturday, he fires up the smoker out front and cooks sixty to eighty sides of ribs. They come out of the smoker at noon, fresh and ready for customers to enjoy. They do encourage ordering in advance to ensure that customers are able to get this high demand product.

Some Thursdays, he smokes chicken wings, legs quarters and drumsticks too. Anything not sold that day will be available for purchase in the store.

Noah believes in delivering quality service and product. He also is pleased to work with customers and deliver what they request. He described a popular sweet Italian bratwurst link that they make. When a customer asked for that seasoning in a patty instead of a link, they were happy to accommodate. “That’s how new products are born,” he said.

The store also sells Camp Chef brand grills and smokers, chest freezers, some meat seasonings and Ben’s brand mustards and barbeque sauces. Essentially, if you need the meat or some way to freeze, flavor or cook it, Crossroads can help!

The business is very much a family operation. His wife Ann helps out with the business aspect and their four little boys, ages 10, 7, 5, and 2 spend a lot of time with their dad here and are well known to regular customers. They also employ three people to do processing, packaging and to help with the store.

While they clearly work hard and long days, Noah his thankful to the community for their support. “The people here are just wonderful. We moved here not knowing anyone and not deserving a thing and these Ohio people have absolutely showered us with their friendship, their kindness and business,” he said. “We’ve made so many wonderful friends that we simply couldn’t ask for more.”

Crossroads Meats is located at 11826 Main Street, Adelphi. For more information, visit their store or call 740.702.MEAT.

 

Meet Your Banker: Matt Hearn

Our Meet Your Banker series continues today with Matt Hearn. Matt is the Branch Manager at our Canal Banking Center in Canal Winchester.

Matt Hearn

Matt Hearn is the Branch Manager of our Canal Banking Center in Canal Winchester.

Ask Matt to talk about banking and it’s clear that it’s all about the customers for this California native. “I like being able to get to know my customers and I think they appreciate the personal touch they get from us. That’s not something that’s encouraged or even possible at big banks so it feels really good to offer it here,” he said.

Matt should know. He cut his teeth in banking by working his way up from Retail Banker to Branch Manager for a big bank in Lancaster. He spent about six years there before making the move to VCNB’s Lancaster West Fair Avenue branch. He was hired to be a Retail Banking Officer but quickly rose to the position of Branch Manager.

Earlier this year, he made another change by moving to our Canal Winchester branch which he manages today.

“I have found opportunities here to really get to know my customer. They come in and we have a chance to talk about their child who just graduated high school or about what they need from us. Nothing makes me happier than when they bring their dogs and we get to give them a treat,” he said with a laugh.

In his free time, Matt sits on the Income Council of United Way for Fairfield County. He’s been a member since 2017 and says their primary focus is on funding for shelters, food banks and emergency services.

He and his wife have been married for four years and have a one year-old daughter.

“The best part of my job is the relationships. Nothing makes you feel better about what you do than when a customer says they trust you or when a customer shows up in your new office just to see you.”