TECHNOLOGY PROFILE – NETWORK
A farmhouse winery in rural Georgia updates its digital infrastructure.
BY GEORGE MCCLURE
STONEY J’S IS A FAMILY-OWNED AND OPERATED FARM WINERY IN CUMMING, GEORGIA that’s open year-round to provide a first-class wine and dining experience. First established as a farm and orchard, it has evolved into a working farm winery offering wine tastings, a gourmet chef’s kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven, and an outdoor courtyard with fireplace.
Even in such a bucolic setting a robust network is essential, and a recent expansion of the winery’s digital infrastructure has dramatically improved the experience for staff and customers. Here’s the skinny.
the principals and the property
“We bought the property nine years ago,” says Stoney J’s Co-Owner Sean DeNardo. “In the back there was an old horse-riding training area and there was ivy three feet high. We were looking for something to do, so we cleared it out. We started building the back vineyard and then we added the front later. I was still working at AT&T at the time, and I said to my wife and my parents that I was tired of working in the corporate world and wanted to be able to do something on our own. So, after 20 some years, I took a package there and left.
“A couple years later we had all these grapes all over the place and we were thinking, ‘What are we going to do with them?’ We started making wine and handing it out to a lot of people just as a gift, sort of like, ‘Try this — do you like it?’ And people really did. So we decided to start making our own wines more full time, and today we’re about a 1,500 case a year winery.”
Sean and his family have created a unique and memorable experience for visitors to the six-acre estate, with a relaxing atmosphere that encourages guests to stroll the property, try wine tastings, dine on authentic Italian cuisine at the onsite bistro, and peruse the retail shops.
“We’ve got an imported Italian wood-fired oven in the bistro,” says Sean. “We now offer eight or nine types of Neapolitan pizzas. We do Bavarian pretzels, charcuterie boards, meatballs and homemade desserts like cannolis and cookies. I think we’re going to add a chili mac and cheese going forward. We’re selling so many pizzas now, we’re almost becoming like a pizza place with a winery.”
time for an update
Stoney J’s technological improvements began when Sean wanted to be able to walk throughout his property and have access to one wireless network. Up until then the network had been pretty unstable and did not provide great coverage. He started Googling technology integrators in the area and ended up talking with and then hiring Dante Ruredzo and the Atlanta-area firm RMS Installs.
RMS Installs was founded in suburban Atlanta in 2009 by Dante, who started working out of his home with a single vehicle. Originally offering primarily home theater and multiroom audio installation services, Dante noticed that customers also wanted to be able to control their other electronics throughout the home — so the company started focusing on systems that could control not only the home theater and multiroom audio, but also lighting, climate control, security and much more.
With the rise in popularity of streaming music and video con¬tent, the company started to focus more on structural wiring and creating stable and reliable home networks, offering a solution that most companies did not have. With this foundation in place, RMS grew substantially during the pandemic as many clients created home offices requiring robust networks. The company is currently building a showroom in Marietta, Georgia to illustrate its full capabilities.
“The DeNardos already had Wi-Fi in their home, which is adjacent to the winery,” says Dante, “but as business grew, it was clear that fast, reliable connectivity was necessary everywhere.”
The project was a bit of a challenge given the size of the property, with six buildings across six acres. But it was worth it given that better network coverage would make digital transactions smoother, improve security, provide greater ambience with music and video, and give guests and employees full use of their mobile devices. Using a comprehensive suite of technology from Snap One, a leading distributor of smart living technology, RMS created a robust new network, which then allowed them to integrate and configure security cameras, loudspeakers, Wi-Fi access points and other technologies.
Snap One empowers its network of professional system integrators to deliver entertainment, connectivity, automation and security solutions to residential and commercial end users worldwide. Snap One distributes a large portfolio of proprietary and third-party products through its intuitive online portal and local branch network, blending the benefits of e-commerce with the convenience of same-day pickup. The company provides software, award-winning support, and digital workflow tools to help its technology design partners build thriving and profitable businesses.
specifics of the installation
To start with, the skilled technicians from RMS coordinat¬ed with Verizon to run high-speed fiber-optic cable under-ground to all the buildings on the property.
“At first, Verizon didn’t want to run the fiber-optic line to the property,” says Sean, “but Dante got them to do it. So that was a big thing that those guys helped out with.”
To maintain seamless connectivity free from drop-outs, RMS outfitted each building, from the tasting room to the production facility, with a network router, switch, access point and Wattbox IP battery backup with built-in OvrC (pronounced “oversee”) monitoring software. OvrC is a revolutionary support platform for professionals that allows them to remotely manage, configure and troubleshoot devices on the network. From basic home theaters to large-scale networking infrastructures, OvrC empowers pros to keep everything running smoothly, 24/7/365.
All of this is tucked into Strong equipment racks, each of which contain multiple OvrC integrated products to give RMS full visibility and insight into the network and every device connected to it. If a camera, streaming media device or access point falls offline, RMS can quickly fix the problem without having to send a technician to the winery or cause downtime for Stoney J’s — nor their visitors!
With this infrastructure in place, RMS added strategically placed Luma high-def cameras (which notify RMS when they sense movement after hours), Episode indoor and outdoor speakers, indoor and outdoor Araknis Wi-Fi access points, streaming media devices, and video displays. From any mobile device, Stoney J’s employees can view cameras real-time and recorded video captured by the cameras and stream music to speakers and video — including winery schedule and menu items — to smart displays across the property. Particularly helpful are instant alerts the Stoney J’s management receives on mobile devices when any security camera notices movement at a building’s entrance.
“It’s their signal of a delivery,” Dante says. “They can visually confirm who and what that delivery is and respond accordingly — no rushing out to the far reaches of the property if unnecessary. The addition of the networked cameras alone has made day-to-day operations so much smoother.”
Separate VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are configured by RMS Installs to segment Wi-Fi traffic, which ensures that no matter how many guests are accessing Wi-Fi, the technologies working behind the scenes at Stoney J’s have adequate bandwidth for uninterrupted network access.
the benefits of advanced resources from Snap One
“For a technology integration firm involved in large, complex installations like Stoney J’s, product procurement is easier and faster from an all-inclusive company like Snap One,” Dante explains. “Plus, we know that everything available under the Snap One umbrella has been verified to work well together. And I really like how their products work with OvrC. Everything is easy to manage, update, reboot and control remotely. That offering is especially important on a large-scale project like this one.”
The Stoney J’s team now uses mobile devices to manage day-to-day operations thanks to the reliability of the net-worked Snap One products. “It really helps being so mobile,” says Sean. “We can go to any building and just bring a laptop or tablet, whether doing inventory counts or restocking shelves, no matter where it is. We have robust Wi-Fi availability now, in every building, which is absolutely great.”
Having experienced the positive impact this new digital infrastructure has had on their business, the owners at Stoney J’s are ready to upgrade even further. Dante and the RMS Installs crew will soon be adding Wi-Fi-enabled door locks to the outbuildings, a full-blown security system, and a Con¬trol4 automation system, with all the technology for phase two once again coming from Snap One.