The new Hollerhorn Distilling, to open this summer in Naples, is the culmination of a 10-year dream

NAPLES — What would you do if a dream had been burning inside you for 10 years? A dream that you shared with your spouse and that you wanted to share with your family and friends, and indeed your whole community?

If you are Karl and Melissa Neubauer, you put everything on the line and work to open a distillery in your hometown of Naples.

Hollerhorn Distilling is hoping to open its doors later this summer on a hillside above the town.

This is the culmination of a decade of researching and planning. There have been trips abroad and throughout the country to study, learn, and cultivate relationships. The site off County Road 36 is now a cold and muddy construction zone, but before fall arrives, the goal is “to have a place for the community to gather in a comfortable space.” according to Melissa.

Tourism is a major industry in the Finger Lakes region, and the craft beverage movement is a driving force. "It's not just about wine anymore," Christen Smith, of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, remarked.

Karl Neubauer says “being off the beaten trail, so to speak, is in its own way an asset as people seek out a special place to discover and experience.”

The Neubauers want to share. It is part of their plan that this place becomes a spot to learn about the craft of making spirits, as well as place to eat Melissa's locally sourced foods. The grains used in the distilling will come from local growers, plus the water to be used in the process is coming from a spring, right on the property. Timbers used in construction came from barns and houses taken down within a 50-mile radius, and the work force is predominately friends and family.

Many people know Karl through his playing in the band The Prickers, and he says music is going to be a big part of the Hollerhorn experience. He has been making a living designing and building for the past 25 years as an independent contractor — and says Hollerhor is “over built” in some aspects. When the Prickers' farewell performance in 2016 attained legendary status with the exhilarated crowd's breaking of a beam under the dance floor at the Naples Hotel, Karl made sure there would be no such occurrence at his building and strengthened the floor's framing.

Look for the grand opening later this summer. Will Hollerhorn take its place as a Finger Lakes destination?

 "It can only increase the experience for the consumers who are in our area, whether they are locals or visitors,” said John Brahm of Arbor Hill Winery.