CROW RIVER WINERY
It started with a love for grapes
My grandmother was named “Rose Ann” but we knew her as “Grandma Graceville” as she lived in Graceville Minnesota where my father was raised on a family farm. She liked grapes, she kept grapevines on the farm. Grandma made a little wine for the holidays; we canned grape juice which we would relish for breakfast when we were young. She made and gave away grape jelly filled with all the sugar that drove her grandchildren to adventures galore. Her love of grapes and grapevines inspired me to plant a grapevine in the backyard to every house I ever lived in. It inspired me make wine and grapes part of my life.
Before the Winery
I was born 70 years ago and grew up on a farm outside of Hutchinson Minnesota. My father married Alice Whalen a local Hutchinson girl. He was a World War II veteran and had grown up on a family farm near Graceville and had a vision of a post-war “back to the land” lifestyle. Farm life was simple, we had no electricity and no running water for several years.
As a young man, I set my sights on getting off the farm, and I pursued a career as a software developer. That career ultimately led me to start my own software company as well as several other small businesses.
In all the years the one constant was the family farm I grew up on. When my father passed, I purchased the farm from my siblings and started to chart my own path for the farm. Included in that path was the restoration of the orchard and grapevines on the farm. That very quickly turned into a fascination with the University of Minnesota cold climate grapes. A few vines quickly turned into a few thousand vines and I had a vineyard operation on my hands.
As the recession of December 2007 set in, a building on Highway 7 just south of the farm was foreclosed on. As my vineyard matured and the building sat empty, locally people would say “What a great winery the place would make, why aren’t you looking at that?”
In the Spring of 2012, I did take a look at the empty building and decided there was a winery hiding in there somewhere. I purchased the building and surrounding land 120 acres of farmland creating the Crow River Winery.
Derelict bank foreclosures are not for the faint of heart, but clean up and landscaping did give way to outfitting of a winery. Slowly as things came together, we began making wine. The next spring, we opened the tasting room to the public and people stopped by to try our wine. A year later, we opened our event halls, and a Minnesota wedding venue was born.