Amanda Duff | May/June
A strong sense of community is paramount to us, both in our business and personal life,” says Julie Milligan, who says she and husband Alex discovered this sense of community on their first day in Ridgefield, when their son Pierce was only one week old. “Neighbors stopped by with flowers, food, cards, and offers to help unpack. It was incredible.”
The Milligans, who moved from New York City, credit their cousin Jan Arnold, a longtime Ridgefield resident, for the introduction to town, by inviting them for what many would call the perfect fall day: a visit to the Jesse Lee pumpkin patch, followed by apple picking at Blue Jay Orchards. “We love spending time outdoors and want nature to be an integral part of Pierce’s life,” says Alex. “I even proposed to Julie during a hike.”
The weekend isn’t complete without time spent outside. “Pine Mountain is minutes away and gets us in the woods fast. Topstone has a toddler-friendly play loop ending at a playground, and Pierce is obsessed with Tarrywile’s tractors,” says Julie. “Like so many new moms, I didn’t want to sit home and stare at the walls.”
Living in Ridgebury has inspired Julie to live out her “adult fairy tale” of taking horseback riding lessons and Alex his of woodworking (he just finished Pierce’s sandbox). “Driving around our area, I feel like we’re in a movie. Horse farms, wide open spaces, and winding roads. It’s so bucolic.” They frequent Martin Park in summer, a spot that reminds Julie of Vermont.
The Milligans say the decision to base David Milligan Selections, their French-wine import business, in Ridgefield was an easy one. “We’re in close proximity to our two biggest markets, New York and Massachusetts,” says Alex. “Plus, we have fantastic restaurants here, take Bernard’s with their extensive wine list, for example.” And Alex has found local friends who share his passion for wine. “I enjoy geeking out on wine by the firepit with my friend Kyle, who’s on Ancona’s savvy team and really knows his juice.”
Incorporating the community into their business model is a priority. Shortly after moving to Ridgefield, they hired one of their neighbors. “She quickly became an instrumental, irreplaceable member of our team,” says Julie. They’ve also sponsored local events including the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival, The Ridgefield 25, and the Green Awards.
The main driver in their social life has been the Ridgefield Moms Club. Julie joined the club when Pierce was a newborn and was quickly placed into a playgroup with other 2017 babies. “We still meet once a week, either at a mom’s house or somewhere in town,” says Julie. The group, which has grown to about 15 families, is where Pierce has made most of his friends. “It’s such a diverse group but we share being Ridgefield moms,” says Julie. Alex has made friends there, too. “I try hard never to miss poker night, started by one of the dads, or guys’ nights at Nod Hill.”
Opening their home for Tour de France wine tastings has become a tradition, too. They’ve teamed up with Warehouse Wines and Cellar IV to host wine evenings for their pool PVRA, Moms Club, and Newcomer’s Club among others. “Word keeps spreading! We’re doing a tasting a month these days,” says Alex. “It’s a special, more intimate way to introduce our wines to Ridgefield. We hand select the wines and Julie loves to do pairings on request.”
Business owners themselves, Julie and Alex enjoy supporting local merchants. Two of Julie’s favorite stores are Audrey Road and Bahr & Co. Books on the Common is a favorite of Pierce’s, and Ross Bread, Tazza, and Tusk & Cup are favorites for coffee or tea. “Date night at Luc’s makes us feel like we’re back in the city, and we’re fortunate to have our wine on their list,” adds Alex. “It’s such a perfect ambiance.” Other restaurants they frequent are Sarah’s Wine Bar, Bailey’s, who also carry their wine, and Mannen. “It’s definitely city-quality sushi,” says Julie.
Like many, the Milligans say Ridgefield’s charming Main Street was a big draw. “We didn’t want a town that’s too small, but we knew we wanted a town where people know each other,” says Julie. She’s amazed with how many people recognize her or Pierce when they’re out and about. “We’re constantly seeing people we know, at Ballard Park playground, or at the library.”