Fluvanna Faces: Carolyn Herbert

By Harvey Sorum

Carolyn, are you a native of Fluvanna County? If not, why did you choose to live here?

I was born and raised in Annandale VA, lived in the Tidewater Area for 40 years then moved to Fluvanna in 2014.  Lifelong family friends lived here and we made visits to the Lake since the early 1980s.  We moved here with my 92 year old mother since she had friends here and her last years were with close friends nearby. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

I taught school in the Tidewater area and after 35 years I retired as assistant director of special education. My husband and I have two sons, one living near Boston, and our other son and his family live in Fluvanna.  I’m blessed to be a part of my grandchildren’s lives as well. We all work with the family business, Herbert’s Wine Jelly, and our non-profit, Herbert’s Horizon of Hope. 

When you retired, did you have plans to stay active? 

I did not plan on doing too much more than having fun, traveling in the area, and becoming part of the Fluvanna Community. That changed when a significant need was discovered in this area. The need was there to help those coping with mental health and those who had been previously incarcerated.

What exactly does your business do?

Herbert’s Wine Jelly is a steppingstone from incarceration through reentry.  Beginning in 2016, I found several men and women who were looking for hope and a second chance upon release. In conjunction with a few great friends, I decided to start a program of hope for as many inmates that I could help.  Building self-esteem was number one.

The first four created ideas of products they wanted to create and sell. They worked with me, my graphic designer, and a chef to bring the ideas to life.  Profits were set aside for each person based on what they created.  Once home, they were given an envelope of profits and a job with Herbert’s Wine Jelly. They received transition education, financial management and flexible scheduling to allow for a readjustment period and work toward obtaining a better paying job to enhance their future.  

Our non-profit, Herbert’s Horizon of Hope, provides support for a prison art program for those talented enough to sell artwork.  We take the original, make notecards for sale, with the understanding the profits go directly to the family of the incarcerated – a way to give back to family in a small but powerful way.  We also support the family as they endure the separation, prepare for return, and refer them to some other non-profits that will help them achieve their goals.  

You have a moto that reads, “Enhancing Meals Everyday”. What do you mean by this?

While inside prison, we sent them cookbooks and asked them to come up with unique ideas for their products.  As we expanded suggested uses, we added our own recipes to Enhance Meals Everyday. Turn broiled chicken into Orange Pineapple Chardonnay Glazed Chicken. All products have suggested uses outside the common uses of the products.  Our products help create something just a little different than the everyday.

Our other motto is “Out of a Jam and into Jelly”

Do you sell your products retail?

We sell wholesale, retail and at festivals and shows when we can.  Our staff is small, but everything we make helps determine how many people we can hire. In Fluvanna, we are available at Sweet Arts Emporium, Local Eats and offer wine jelly made with their own wine at both Cunningham and Hardware Hills Winery.

Why were you awarded the Fluvanna County Business of the Year in 2021?

After surviving Covid and all of the original four arriving home, we survived as a company totally committed to serving this population.  My husband and I have done everything we knew to do to keep us going.  We feel it is really an important marginalized population that is fragile.  This is the group that without support, may not know how to manage without old habits.  Recidivism has reduced in our area as awareness has increased.  We are so proud of the successes we see and one important factor is that our guys (no ladies right now) are all paying taxes.  

For our readers who want to know more about you and your business, is there a web site available?

Herbertswinejelly.com has more information about us, our products, and online shopping.

Herbertshorizonofhope.com accepts donations that help pay for the printing of the cards and other items we do for the families.  

What are your goals in life?

Make a positive change in someone’s life every day.  Look at the future and not the past.  Learn from the past but move beyond it.  Focus on now.

Any hobbies?

I enjoy jigsaw puzzles.

Do you have any favorite books or movies or quotes?

While You Were Sleeping is my all-time favorite movie.  You never know the twists and turns life brings.

What was the most important event in your life?

Learning to live for today and laugh.  Find the positive in everything.

Any regrets?

No, every life event helps you enjoy now.

Did I miss anything you would like our readers to know about?

Please contact us if you know anyone going through family trauma including incarceration. Talking helps.  757-870 -8065 or Carolyn.hhoh@gmail.com

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