Oh how the world has changed since I last posted on here. Whew!
Where do I even begin? And what do I even say?
Now that we will have a business that would have had to close (or at least make some major adjustments) because of COVID-19, so many feelings and emotions are making a mess of my insides. Although it would have been "nice" to be open already, I'm secretly thankful we didn't have to go through the mess of having displaced employees, reduced sales, sad customers, and the stress of not knowing when the doors could open once again.
We have so many great businesses in the area that have been affected by the government mandates, or have chosen to close voluntarily to protect their employees and families. I want to see them OPEN on the other side of this so they can celebrate with us for our Grand Opening! Please find ways to support them during this time, so they don't have to weather this difficult journey alone. Call for take-out, buy gift certificates, or check out their online stores and have things shipped to your door. I can guarantee you, every one of them will be eternally grateful for your patronage!
And I don't want to have the attitude that the "sky is falling," but it's hard to ignore the reality that we are currently living in, and the future reality that could look similar to that of our friends in Italy.
SO! What has happened lately? So much! We have water and it feels so good! A couple of guys from Mission Mechanical stayed late Friday night to make sure everything was working for us for the weekend. We have been without water for so long at the site, we spent most of Friday night letting the boys wash down the tanks and PLAY! They were soaked by the end of the night, but it was one of the best nights so far! So fun!
We also got some of the cabinetry installed. Pat Rooney has done such a great job! Once its all set in place I will share more pictures. He used white oak and stained it this beautiful brown. It pulls everything together so nicely!
And a LOT of progress has been made with the floor installations. Jon and Paul have done a great job!
All of the millwork has arrived as well and is waiting to get installed! It's beautiful! Thank you to Bayer Built Inc. for doing such a great job!
And the biggest news of all...Drum-roll please.....
We can finally start thawing juice and MAKE WINE!
The announcement was rather lackluster, and came in the form of an e-mail. :) But we'll take what we can get!
This week has been somewhat of a whirlwind. With COVID-19 having us on alert, I had a moment where I was a little worried that the State was going to shut down, therefore further delaying our opening because there would be no inspectors available.
HOWEVER, that was not the case!
We had our first inspection by the Department of Ag on Monday morning. The purpose of that inspection was to ensure we have a facility safe enough to manufacture a "food product." Mike was our inspector and he walked through our facility, saw that we had the required surfaces and equipment and he gave us his blessing!
Next up was the Department of Public Safety. DPS issues us the actual license to manufacture alcohol. Immediately following our inspection with Mike, I called our inspector Allison, from DPS. I may have called her several times, using multiple phone numbers that I found for her, frantically trying to reach her, in hopes to schedule her visit before the hypothetical shutdown I had made up in my head. She answered (finally) and scheduled her inspection for the next day (Tuesday) at 10:30. We had to (well Joe had to) prove to her that we were knowledgeable and competent enough to produce alcohol. She said her B.S. meter is pretty good, so Joe got down to business and let her in on our process. And within a few hours we received this e-mail:
We called the trucks right away this morning and our frozen juice should start arriving tomorrow!
If you are having a hard time reaching us over the next couple of weeks, we will be busy making wine! CHEERS!
Can you believe it's MARCH! 2020 has flown by so far and it doesn't seem to be slowing down! Here's what we have been up to in the last couple of weeks:
Shane and his crew from Gateway continue to make progress each week. Because of the delays we experienced on our project with the weather last fall, and coordinating with other contractors, they are now late on a couple of other projects they committed to. This means they are splitting their time between the winery and the other jobs and there are only so many man hours available. With that said, they have done a nice job keeping all the plates spinning - the roof has now been installed, the sheet rock has been hung, the building has been wrapped with tyvek and is now ready for siding, and the vestibule has a door. We have a front door! It's a construction door, but a door none-the-less!
Central Suspension out of Alexandria has been here off and on getting the ceiling tile grid set so the electrical work can continue. They will be back this week to do the tasting room and install the rest of the tiles! Is there any way I can make ceiling tile sound interesting? I'm sorry, I don't have it in me today :)
And a LOT of painting has happened as you can see from the pictures above. Mark and Linda Colden from Starbuck have been busy working on getting the walls mudded, taped, textured, and painted. They have been GREAT! There were evenings where we stopped out at the site and rooms were magically finished - we had no idea they had been out working. Mark said over 35 gallons of paint has been used - crazy! We hope they enjoy their upcoming retirement - they deserve it!
The floors have started to get installed too! My office is done (YAY!) and now the main level rooms are going in this week! Terry from Affordable Flooring in Starbuck was so patient with us through this whole process. We had our choices made, and then decided to change our minds, but then went back to our original choices in the end. HA! Who does that? LOL Terry has been great to work with - he helped with some of the state code that we had to work around, he coordinated with our contractors, and he lined up the installers. Who, by the way, has also been great to work with too! Paul Papesh has been up to his elbows in floor glue, but really made these rooms sparkle!
Mission Mechanical has been busy getting the final mechanicals installed, sinks hooked up, and finally the chiller loop for the tanks! We are getting soooo close!
And what do you see here?
If you guessed the pieces for the tasting bar, you are correct! It's going to be BEAUTIFUL when it's all put together. Pat Rooney from Dreamwood Inc is the mastermind behind all of our cabinetry that's going in the winery. Rumor has it the bar will be set before the weekend! Who's excited!?!?!?
And all while progress was being made at the winery site, we took a long weekend in February and attended the Minnesota Grape Growers Cold Climate Conference in Rochester. We have been members of the MGGA for over 10 years, and this years conference was by far, one of the best we have attended. The material that was presented was pertinent and full of lots of great information.
If you are interested in our cold climate grapes and want to visit more wineries in the Midwest, the MGGA Winery Passport is a great way to try wines from many wineries for a great value. We hope you ask about them when we open!
About the Author
I'm Melanie, co-owner of Rolling Forks Vineyards, boy mom & wine lover.