When you think about wineries and vineyards, you may think of California, or even Italy. But believe it or not some of the fastest growing wine markets are in our area.
A recent study is showing that the expansion of Iowa’s wine industry in recent years shows it’s potential to become a regional leader.
We spent some time at some local vineyards to find out the secrets of their success and how they’re stomping out their competition.
When Steve Beland started Bel-Aire Estates winery he never expected it to be as successful as it’s become.
“This was a retirement business, we were going to take it easy and sell 2 bottles of wine, well we looked up this fall and we made 6,00 and sold 5,000 so yeah, it’s grown,” he says.
And he’s not alone in his success, a recent study from the University of Iowa shows that the economic impact of Iowa’s wine and wine grapes industry has grown 80% since 2008.
“There are a lot of good things happening, there’s a lot of wonderful people out there, we see a lot of travelers which is good for us, it’s good for the people in town because they come through there.”
But it’s not just Iowa seeing success, Minnesota wines are growing in popularity too. In fact Four Daughters Winery and Vineyard just became the largest in Minnesota.
“First year we made about 8,000 gallons of wine, thought that was a lot, ran out the first year. We went up to 12,000 gal, ran out last year so this year we made 26,000 gallons,” says owner, Gary Vogt.
Four Daughters Winery and Vineyard in Spring Valley has seen booming success, in fact the business plan on expanding the building and they’re even gearing up to do whole sales for the first time.
Owner Gary Vogt says the fact that many of their wines are made with Minnesota grapes is a huge draw for tourists.
“Our grapes probably have a little higher acid than California or Italy but the wine makers are learning how to deal with that and they’re turning it into some quality wines.”
The winery draws in tourists from all over including many visitors from the Twin Cities area, making it an unlikely wine lovers destination.
“The wines, people just think it’s some of the best wines in the Midwest and we actually we sell wines to people out in Napa Valley,” adds Vogt.
While both wineries are seeing success now, Beland knows that it’s a critical time for the industry.
“I think it’s going to level out here and kind of figure who goes forward and how and we’ve got to change with the business of course because you can’t do the same thing so we try to do that.”