A field of wine dreams
Indianola couple is making plans for a winery
Friday, November 23, 2012 7:00 AM
A toast to Iowa wines
Gallons sold in 2004:
Gallons sold in 2012:
Source: Iowa State University Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute.
A metal shed full of wild cats, a 1950s ranch home in need of repair or bulldozing, 16 acres with a gentle slope and a southern exposure: This is the stuff of a winemaker’s dreams.
The piece of land east of Indianola where David and Heidi Klodd plan to build a 3,000-square-foot winery next year might have been described as hardscrabble when they bought it earlier this year. But it was the land and an assortment of buildings they settled on after a three-year search for a place to build a business they hope to nurture through their retirement.
The wine business is nothing new to the Klodds. They built a home southwest of Indianola in 1995 and immediately set to growing vegetables to sell at a local farmers market.
David Klodd was an amateur winemaker. It didn’t take long for him begin planting wine grapes on the property. Those first plantings now spread across 12 acres right out the back door of their home.
In that vineyard, the Klodds grow more than 7,000 vines of Frontenac, Frontenac gris, Leon Millot, Delaware, Marquette and Swenson red grapes. Nearly all of them are cultivars developed at the University of Minnesota to survive harsh winters and humid summers.
For seven years, David Klodd learned the business on the job while working as the winemaker and vineyard manager at Summerset Winery, which helped trigger a rebirth of the Iowa wine industry when it opened in 1997 in northern Warren County.
Klodd left Summerset Winery earlier this year and now is a vineyard and winery consultant, working closely with Iowa State University’s Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute.
Murli Dharmadhikari, the director of institute, has been instrumental in Klodd’s wine education. Once the winery is completed, Klodd also wants it to serve as an education center.
In addition, Klodd and his brother, Paul, have developed a netting implement – crucial for keeping birds away from ripe fruit – and a sprayer that applies herbicides at the base of vine and away from grapes and leaves.
Another 100 wineries have opened in the state since Summerset Winery. More than 1,200 acres have been planted in wine grapes. Between 2004 and 2012, sales of Iowa wines increased to 267,209 gallons from 63,952 gallons. Another shift has occurred in the industry: More wine is sold at grocery stores and other retail outlets than is sold at wineries.
What that means is that the wine industry is maturing and reaching a broader audience.
Klodd said the market still has room to grow.
Building a winery near his home was not a consideration. The Klodds live about a mile from pavement on a gravel road. Even frequent visitors can drive by the place before realizing they have traveled too far. That would have made the location impractical for a new winery.
Instead, the Klodds’ Annelise Winery, which they named after their daughter, will be located on U.S. Highway 92, right across the road from the Indianola Balloon Field, the location of an annual balloon competition and various other events through the year.
Klodd also wanted a winery where he could provide ample room for trucks to enter and turn around. In addition, the 16 acres provides room to expand the vineyard operation, or possibly provide camping spots for travelers.
“We should be able to produce most of our wines from own grapes,” he said.
The Klodds are trying to pull off the project without bank financing, so they want the winery to be self-supporting from the day it opens. They do have a private investor as a partner in the project.
As with most Iowa wineries, hosting events such as weddings, corporate outings, even birthday parties and high school reunions will be a key revenue producer. Selling wine alone will not pay the bills.
“My goal is to get the winery open, start selling wine at retail, then get the events going,” Klodd said. Initially, he also plans to sell 10 to 15 percent of the 5,000 gallons of wine he will produce at wholesale.
That old metal shed can be converted to a three-season shelter. The Klodds decided to save the house on the property. The interior has been rejuvenated. There is new wiring, new plumbing, freshly sanded and sealed wood floors. The exterior is a you-can’t-miss-it burgundy. Plans are for the house to serve as a caretaker’s residence.
But it is the winery that will draw attention. It will feature wine tasting and banquet rooms, and a viewing area where visitors can view activity in the wine cellar.
Construction will begin in the spring.
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