Zenobia Taylor-Weiss has loved Michigan grown produce for years. She founded Cellar Door Preserves in 2016 to craft high quality products showcasing local fruits. Her passion for using local ingredients really stood out. She shared, “Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state. My hope is that right now that is a best kept secret, but that our amazing agriculture industry becomes more well know. I am trying to help people understand what we grow here and how delicious it is.”
Cellar Door is making preserves in small batches using a more traditional method. Zenobia described the process by saying, “We use about half the sugar of other jams and jellies. We don’t use pectin because it stops the process with a lot of water still in the preserve. Cooking the water out takes several hours more, but the flavor is worth it. This is the best smelling job on the planet when we are cooking!”
A team of seven people work year-round to produce a variety of preserves and cocktail fruits. Seasonal employees join during the summer to take the raspberry lavender, blueberry ginger, and other unique flavors to are farmer’s markets. “During the summer, when more fruit is in season, we have as many as 20 flavors,” Zenobia said.
When asked what skills or training employees need to succeed at Cellar Door, Zenobia told us, “Personality is a big part of what we are looking for in our team, especially with seasonal sales representatives. They are representing the business to the public, and we want them to understand the mission of Cellar Door and convey it to others.” When crafting the preserves, working together is very important. “We train people to make the preserves. We need to know that they will fit in with the team.”
That team feeling came about through intentional work. All full-time employees at this small business have health insurance. All employees are offered paid time off. Zenobia told us, “If you have good people you have to take care of them. Taking care of employees brings more people to you, they see the benefits of how you treat your team. This feels more like family.”
That family feeling has helped Cellar Door Preserves grow over the past 6 years. The company started out at the incubator kitchen in the Downtown Market but now has their own dedicated location, which they are quickly outgrowing. “We want to be able to say yes to bigger orders, but we have to turn them down right now because we are at capacity,” Zenobia shared. The company sells in over 30 states, as far away as Alaska. Find them this summer at Fulton St., Rockford, and Kentwood Farmers Markets or on their website, https://cellardoorpreserves.com/.