The Ferguson family, left, and the Brown family, founders of RiverCrest Villas. Courtesy photo.
One of the state’s oldest wineries wants to entice visitors to stay longer than a couple glasses of wine. Flag Hill Distillery and Winery in Epping is building 20 villas on adjacent land that will host up to 80 guests a night. Construction for the project, RiverCrest Villas, began construction in the spring.
When Brian and Maddie Ferguson purchased Flag Hill in 2015, the largest obstacle they faced as a wedding venue was accommodations. They say out-of-town guests had difficulty finding places to stay nearby. “When we moved here, we realized there was no place to stay within 30 minutes. In fact, the closest lodging options that can accommodate more than a few guests are in Dover, Portsmouth or Exeter,” says Brian, who is the distiller and winemaker, while Maddie serves as one of the event managers.
RiverCrest Villas is a partnership between the Fergusons and Ben and Amy Brown, who own the adjacent property. It will be built in at least three phases, Ferguson says, with the first phase scheduled to be completed this fall. Each phase will include between five and 10 units designed to sleep two to four guests with a main bedroom, living area and kitchenette.
Ferguson says there is opportunity to attract more than wedding guests and corporate clients, as tourists are already drawn to the area by the three local racetracks and nearby Sig Sauer Academy. The largest of the racetracks, New England Dragway, brings in a national crowd, he says.
“Flag Hill Distillery and Winery is already a tourist destination, and RiverCrest opens up a lot of options. There are things we have wanted to do for years but just didn’t have the capability,” Ferguson says. “Corporate retreats, like team building, can be customized to include creating a product, which builds problem-solving skills, and then we can even produce barrels of [wine or whiskey] that can be used as corporate gifts.”
He says alcohol tourism is a growing industry and the NH Winery Association even offers a passport that visitors can get stamped at each place they visit. After visiting 10 wineries, the passport can be submitted for a chance to win a $25 gift card to a NH winery.
Ferguson says they hope to become a destination for the thousands of visitors from Massachusetts who drive nearby Route 125.
For more information, visit rivercrestvillas.com.