One of the most frequently asked questions we get is: “Do you ever take time to sit back and enjoy all of this?” The truthful answer is…not as often as we should. While we certainly enjoy what we are doing, we thrive in the excitement of moving forward and seeing others enjoy what we’re creating. We don’t often take time to reflect on how far we have come. Once one project is complete, there is always something new to tackle. And with kids and dogs in the mix, there’s always something that needs our attention. But this month we have been taking a trip down memory lane and it has been particularly fun to look back to the very beginning of starting the vineyard – 10 years ago. Our logo has our established year as 2008 because that is the year this all began. In March of 2008, we moved from our homes in the city to a farm in Waconia to start our lives together with visions of a family and a winery in our future. We had no ties to Waconia and the honest truth is that we settled here because we knew we found a special property perfect for growing grapes with the added bonus of a reasonable commute to our jobs in the city. These photos are what we fell in love with and what it looked like when we bought it.
That first spring of 2008, Aaron bought his first tractor, a 1967 Cub Cadet, for $375 off of Craigslist. It was about all we could afford after the move and during a recession, but it did the trick to help us get our first acre of vines in the ground.
Oh my. It seems a sin to be posting photos of these guys drinking Coors Light (gasp!), but it was a different time back then (craft beer wasn’t what it is today).
Since I moved directly from a condo in uptown to a 12+ acre farm, the farm lifestyle was a bit new to me. That spring Aaron came home with about 20 packets of seeds, dumped them on the kitchen table and said, “Here you go. Let’s start planting that garden.” You see, the garden at that time is where the bocce courts currently reside. It was big.
And I had no idea what I was doing.
That’s when Aaron patted me on the head and said, “How about I handle the viticulture part of the business? You can do the marketing and be a professional wine drinker.”
And that is how our Bonfire event started in 2008. We have missed a year since, although it looks a little different these days.
While I was happy to help on the winemaking (read: drinking) side, I was perfectly content having Aaron handle the grapes…
Shhh…don’t tell him I posted this picture!
And then this happened…
And then this…
That was the day we had all the power lines buried. Great pregnancy post, huh? See the “parking lot” in the background? It used to be all grass!
And then the next couple of years after that are all sort of a blur…
There were babies and dogs, construction, grapes, sleep deprivation, more construction, mud, licensing debacles, cement and gravel trucks, full-time jobs to attend, and…well…
But wine got me through it.
Aaron built the pavilion in the spring of 2013 with the help of a few willing handymen including friends, family and neighbors.
That’s when the bocce courts went in too! Goodbye garden.
July 2013 – we opened for business!
A year later in 2014, the winery was under construction after taking down the old chicken coop and building a new building in its place.
Ask Aaron sometime about when the trusses came down…or when the fire started….or when it flooded. We laugh about it now, but….
…we prevailed and opened the new tasting room in October 2014.
And just because things weren’t crazy enough, decided to open a brewery that year too. Why not?
There have been far too many people who, along their own journey, have been involved in ours at various points. From planting, picking, building, mentoring, pouring, listening, and of course, consuming! It would be impossible to mention everyone who has touched this business at some point, but know we are grateful for every. single. one of you and you have all added to our story. It takes a village. We most definitely hit the jackpot with Waconia as far as picking a random community to start this venture. Thank you!
Lastly, as is life, there have been loved ones we have lost along the way over the last 10 years who made a significant impact on our lives and were a part of this 10 years ago. We wanted to take a moment to honor them here with a few stories.
I remember Aaron’s Grandma Millie visiting from Wisconsin when we first moved here. Millie was a farm wife through and through and always had a fabulous garden, even in her 90s! Me, clearly not having much of a green thumb, welcomed any advice she had for me. I sat with her in the Adirondacks under the Chitalpa tree that overlooks the vineyard as she told me about raising her 4 kids on the farm and how she used to hand wash all of their clothes, even when she had three kids in cloth diapers at once. I thought, if Millie could do that in the 1940’s, I can handle this. A vineyard, a job, kids, farm, winery….no problem. Yes, I can be Superwoman too! I have an automatic washing machine after all! We lost Millie in January 2013 at the age of 96, but we are so grateful she got to do the very first grape stomp we had in 2011.
Our two grandmas bonding – Tutu and Millie
Tutu and Kapuna
How grateful are we to have had these incredible people to help guide us as we embarked on this life.
I’d be remiss not to mention…our furry family member. We adopted Tux and his sister Belle in 2009, back when life was still relatively normal – no kids, no winery yet. Managing two Great Danes layered in yet another challenge to our busy days, but they sure added character to our home and we have plenty of stories to tell about their shenanigans. Tux was best described as our 150 lb. lapdog. He loved the vineyard, and we’d often catch him eating grapes off the vine during harvest or chasing birds between the vines. We had to say goodbye to our big old friend in September 2017.
Phew. That was a lot of content and emotion for one post. Thank you for letting me share a little more of our history with you. Thank you friends, family, neighbors and community for the support and love you have shown us over the years. We can’t wait to continue this journey with you!