Everybody has to start somewhere, and for Tim McEnery, founder and CEO of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, it all began with washing dishes at the age of 11.
Now nearing the ten-year anniversary of a dream come true, his journey goes to show that hard work — and a little bit of wine — really does pay off.
By high school McEnery worked his way up to becoming a restaurant manager. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hotel management, he became the general manager of a country club; later, he joined Lynfred Winery in Illinois to learn the wine trade.
The epiphany came when McEnery and his wife were wine tasting in Illinois. While hopping from winery to winery, he noticed that few of them had restaurant components.
“During the early days of Cooper’s Hawk’s inception, I would wake up two hours early to make sure that my business plan and ideas were solid before pitching the idea to investors,” says McEnery. “It’s always a tough sell in the hospitality industry but after a few investors meetings, I was able to secure backing and ten years ago, the idea of Cooper’s Hawk came to fruition.”
With over 50 different varietals ranging from sparkling almond wine to Lux Meritage, as well as the standards such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cooper’s Hawk produced over 260,000 cases of wine last year. Sourced from grapes from the best vineyards in Michigan, California, and Washington, Cooper’s Hawk also developed a number of international blends such as the upcoming Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as putting a great amount of focus on the winery’s eco efforts.
“We saved over 215 tons of glass from landfills with the help of our bottle recycling machine,” states McEnery.
Because the main idea of Cooper’s Hawk is to have every meal paired to a corresponding wine, the menu is laid out with a bin number for each dish plus a suggested wine pairing. For example, the menu offering of red wine-braised short ribs with mustard sauce, Mary’s potatoes, roasted vegetables, and crispy onion strings is paired with Cooper’s Hawk’s Bin 94 Cabernet Zinfandel.
This fall marks the 10-year anniversary of McEnery opening Cooper’s Hawk, and now 19 of the restaurants are scattered across the country. To honor the decade anniversary, McEnery is releasing a limited edition “Decadence Magnum” bottle for Cooper’s Hawk’s wine club members.