For one Loudoun County couple, their dreams rested on the success of their wine vineyard — until 2014, when life changed for the two of them and competitors stepped in to help.
Jan Mathov took a fall while trimming a tree, leaving her paralyzed. She and her husband Fernando questioned whether or not they should keep the vineyard.
"To the point that we almost abandoned the project," Jan's husband Fernando said.
The couple's journey started back in high school where they met and became sweethearts. The two married and moved out to Loudon County and bought 16 acres of vineyards for their future.
"Open up a winery and just retire and running the winery with her and just enjoying what we do. Food, wine and entertainment," Fernando said.
They couldn't give up on the life they planned together and with the generosity of Jan's friend, they didn't have to. Jan was loaned a track chair to inspect the vines. However, while seated, she couldn't inspect the top of the trees.
Jan found a better solution after she tested out a new standing model.
"When I first got in it, I think my smile went probably from ear to ear. Just because it makes many more things possible," Jan said.
Although the new track would solve her mobility problems, the price tag was close to $20,000, which was too much for the Mathovs.
After hearing of Jan's situation, other vineyard owners wanted to help.
Some nearby vintners put together a fundraising effort called Harvest Kindness to help out their competitor cover the cost of the new chair.
They are accepting donations through a GoFundMe page, and the Wine Reserve is hosting a Harvest Kindness Event on Nov. 10 with there will be food, live music and prizes. Tickets are $25 and come with a wine glass, one drink and a raffle entry.
"Jan Mathov is not an average person," said Mark Malick, co-owner of Maggie Malick Wine Vineyards. "We all are competitors, but we’re also colleagues."
Kathy Dolezal and her bosses at the Wine Reserve at Waterford created the fundraiser.
"If we have enough people just to donate a little bit, we can get that for her and keep her going," said Dolezal.
Nine wineries and vineyards are now collecting money onsite.
Jan expressed gratitude for the work of her colleagues.
"I’m just very lucky to know them," she said as she choked back tears.