I was just telling my husband the other day that next year, in 2019, will be the 10 year anniversary of establishing our vines. And, I just couldn’t actually wrap my mind around how it could be! I mean, for myself, and I’m guessing my mom, it does feel like our grapes have been a part of our lives for quite a while. My kids have grown up with the vineyard at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and are used to spending their summers out there while we prune, fix the trellis, prune, mow, prune, spray, (did I mention prune?), put the bird netting on, install our small electric fence for rodents, and get ready for harvest. However, they also get to completely enjoy their summers as well, as I usually can hear them laughing (and fighting) all the way in the vineyard as they play in the pool or on the swing set, or when they make many, MANY campfires.
They also practically live at Grandma and Grandpa’s towards the end of August until September when our grape harvest is over. They sleep there, wake up there, help us pick, ride while we haul in grapes, help us run the press, make sure Grandma and Grandpa’s kitties have PLENTY of attention, and go to school and talk ALL ABOUT WINE (while their teachers are a little curious if they don’t know what I do for a living :) ).
With that said, it’s been amazing how many “firsts” we are working on as we enter our 9th year of our vineyard. We are currently working on getting out a new sweet red wine! Since we attend so many tastings all around Iowa, we get to chat with so many customers that tell us what they like, and what they would purchase. And, our customers do EXACTLY that. They support us and our story, and when we make something they request…they buy it! That is the reason we are working on another “first”…our first dessert sauces in a specialty food line. We have been sampling our wine chocolate and wine caramel sauce recipes for over a year, and the feedback we receive is, “Wait…we can’t buy them?” We then tell our customers that we’ll give them the recipe with the wine and they can go home and make it…and then most people look a little disappointed. :) So, we decided to start production and give people a chance to take a jar of their favorite sauce home! It has been a long, long learning curve in the food production business (which is similar AND very different from the wine business all at the same time), but we are making progress. Our caramel sauce is going to be available very soon, and our chocolate sauce won’t be far behind!
And, another BIG “first” this year…and one we have envisioned for a very long time (even before our vines were first planted) …is our new tasting room! This one is a biggie…and it would not have been possible if we were not selected for a Main Street Iowa grant. The grant opportunity has afforded the project the structural updates that were needed for the historical Main Street building, and for our tasting room space to be in the lower level. It is a big project and it’s going to take some time, but we are so excited to make this space into one that our customers and community members will enjoy.
So many firsts…even though our first BIG “first” was the planting of our grape vines in 2009. We are still a mother-daughter duo, learning all the time about our grapes and our vineyard, winemaking, science, food production, grant writing, licensing, renovation, and plans for the future. And, when we don’t know or can’t find the answer, we keep trying until we find someone who does. Our customers are the reason we keep growing and learning, because they support us and keep cheering us on. If you haven’t figured it out, our customers are THE BEST! That also goes for all of the other businesses who buy our wine to sell at their stores. They often are run by a solo girl boss, or a family, or a couple, or one of those combos with a few extra helping hands…and they are just awesome.
We’ll keep on tackling “firsts” as we grow our business. We’re still mighty small…but we are still mighty. :)