After he was laid off from a sales position in July 2011, Bill Alletzhauser, like many older Americans, struggled to find work.
So what did he do? He made work find him.
"I'd been looking for other work, couldn't find it, so I thought I'd make a job for myself."
As a hobby, the Stratford resident had been making wine at his home for the previous 12 years. Now, more than a year removed from being laid off, Alletzhauser is turning his hobby into a craft.
The Wine Maker's Boutique is not the place, at least not yet, says Alletzhauser, where you stop on your way home from work to grab a bottle of wine.
The business, located next to Siena Italian Trattoria at Stationhouse Square, sells kits, accessories and equipment to make your own wine, as well as gift ideas and kits for brewing beer at home.
But what will set the store apart, Alletzhauser says, will be the hands-on activities he offers to patrons, namely, making your own wine on site.
"Customers have access to all my equipment and space," he says as he guides me through the process of wine-making, a process that starts with a kit of juice and juice concentrate and ends four to six weeks later with 28 to 30 bottles of your own wine.
"It's not rocket science," says the Stratford resident who holds an education degree. "With a kit, you control the ingredients as opposed to a large manufacturer."
The varieties on the shelf now -- there are about 6 and include Riesling, Malbec and Pomegranate Zinfandel -- are all kits that Alletzhauser himself has worked with. One of them, Cabernet Sauvignon, was the first wine he experimented with more than 10 years ago.
"I was shocked I could make a wine that tasted that good," he recalls.
Alletzhauser says he'll hold monthly wine tastings to determine what tastes are popular and, in turn, what kits to buy. If you choose to make the wine in-house, total price for the kit, accessories, equipment and services range from $165 to $275, which comes to less than $10 a bottle.
In addition to the wine-making, Alletzhauser plans to host classes on how to pair wine with food and how to taste wine.
"There's so much to know," says Alletzhauser.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Wine Maker's Boutique on Friday, Oct. 12, at 12 p.m. will mark the grand opening of the store. The hours will be: Tuesday - Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Note: This article was originally published Oct. 9.