In 1976 I was working for the US Treasury Department as an Assistant National Bank Examiner. I had been there for five years. It was a great job with great benefits but it just wasn’t me. I had always been an avid outdoorsman, having spent most of my summers in the Adirondack Mountains fishing and backpacking, and had this idea that I could somehow make a living doing something that had to do with the activities that I loved so much. I made the decision to go back to school and get a degree in Wildlife Biology. My previous academic record was less than stellar but I managed to get into SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse. I did extremely well in school but when I finished there just weren’t any jobs available. During my second year of school I started working as a waiter at Phoebe’s Garden Café, in Syracuse. Since there weren’t any jobs in my chosen field, I decided to stay at Phoebe’s until I figured things out. Seven years later I was the head bartender and wine buyer. I was doing a fair amount of business with a new, small, fine wine company called Winebow, Inc. When I heard that Winebow was looking for an Upstate New York salesman I applied and was hired. After 31 ½ years there I retired and now spend my time working on High Hook and fishing. I live in Leverett, Massachusetts, with my wife, Ginny.
So what about High Hook? A few years ago Winebow was looking to expand its Pacific Northwest portfolio. At the same time, a friend, John Heus, and I were mulling over the possibility of starting our own brand. To make a long story short, I called my old friend and fishing buddy Stephen Cary, the winemaker at Yamhill Valley Vineyards and he agreed to not only make our wine, but also sell us the fruit. (As a result High Hook is probably the only estate-bottled custom crush on the planet.) Winebow agreed to distribute High Hook and we were on our way. Branding our wines was easy. I’m an avid salt water fly fisherman, as is Stephen, so that’s where we went. The fish on the label is a Striped Bass. Interestingly enough, the Striper is a bi-coastal fish, kind of like our brand – John and I in the east and Stephen in the west. John and I had decided from the start that we would try to do some good with some of the money we make. We donate $3 per case to organizations that promote environmental education, conservation and sensible management.
- Mark Seymour, President