Along with digging up dirt, we are working on digging up the history of our farm. Ever wonder the history behind the home that you live in, or the homestead that you live on? We have been wondering that for a long while now, but haven't had a chance to really do our research. We are so fortunate here in Pope County to have such wonderful curators of our county history at the Pope County Museum.
Last week Joe and I stopped by the museum and talked with Merlin Peterson about the history of our farm. He works for the museum, but also has personal ties to our farm. His grandparents purchased our farm in 1966.
I was really hoping to find some interesting stories about the people who lived here before us. But nothing has come up, yet. Most of the owners were common people, like Joe and I, who were farmers and worked the land here. So, the story so far is pretty boring. My apologies if you came here for something juicy.
Our farm's tale, on record, began on June 20, 1876, when Simon K. Simons and his wife Carrie Simons purchased this land from the United States Government, by way of the Homestead act, for $40.00. Simon was a son of Knud Simons, one of the two first supervisors of Glenwood Township. The first school in the township, outside of the City of Glenwood was conducted in Knud and Helen Simon's home, where Helen was the teacher.
One notable couple who owned our property was Axel Englund and his wife Jennie. Axel's father was a famous distiller from Sweden. Axel himself was pretty instrumental in the town of Starbuck, MN. Mr. Englund was a pioneer businessman, organizing a number of early businesses including a hardware store, grain elevator, newspaper, creamery and Du Glada Theater. He also served as the mayor of Starbuck for 18 years. They purchased the farm in 1900, but because of the distance between the farm and Starbuck, and his involvement with the City of Starbuck, we have to believe Axel and his family never lived on the farm, but likely rented it out to someone else.
Here is a picture of Axel - doesn't he look like a successful businessman?
In June of 1915 Ole and Anna Selnes purchased the farm and it would remain in their family until 1966. It was written about Ole Selnes, "Mr. Selnes was one of those agriculturists who has done much toward promoting the development of the communities in which he has lived. He is public-spirited and gives an example of what should constitute American citizenship. He attained success because he ever applied himself arduously and intelligently to any task he has undertaken, and such prosperity as has come to him is but the natural outcome of labor well applied. He enjoys in a high degree the respect and esteem of the neighborhood and is ever interested in measures which make for better live conditions or promote the people's welfare along material, moral and intellectual lines."
I hope this winery venture makes Mr. Selnes proud!
As noted above, J.H. Peterson and his wife Lavilla called this farm home. They purchased the farm in 1966 and lived here until 1981. The "Peterson's Far-Away Farm" sign still sits at the end of our driveway - it seems to be a fixture of the neighborhood these days. Mr. Peterson was an elected member of the Minnesota Legislature from 1963-1966 and served on boards related to farming, as well as the Temperance and Liquor Control Board. One of our neighbors is a grandson of the Petersons and has shared several stories with us about spending time here as a kid, growing up close to his grandparents.
Below is a picture of J.H Peterson.
The Lang and Duchsherer families lived here as well since the Petersons called this home. We have heard stories about how people went sledding in the hills where the vines now live. We attempted it in past years, but our kids were just too little yet to brave the hills. This last January, now that the boys are a little older, they had a fun day of sledding with their cousins. Joe even joined in on the fun for a while - the kids had a blast! :)
I imagine each of the families that called this farm home made lots of great memories here just as we are. If we find out any other more interesting stories, we'll continue to share them.
In other news, the construction of the road has been in limbo because of a rain delay. We are hoping with the warm days ahead things will continue to move along.
Until next time...
Joe and I have been dreaming of and working towards building this winery for over 10 years now. We hoped for it to be up and running already, but crop prices in farming haven't been very favorable the last several years, and well, kids happened.
It's almost surreal watching the machines move dirt because that means it's really REAL and will be our reality soon!
As we worked toward putting this together, it was so important to us to use local companies and contractors to partner with, even if it meant paying a little more. Throughout this project we will be showing off their efforts in helping us put this all together.
Lundblad Brothers Excavating (LBE), out of Lowry, MN is doing all of the dirt work. And there is a lot of it! They have helped us in the past with a few projects around the farm and have always been professional and great to work with.
Its incredible to watch their operators run those machines with so much precision, and they make it look so effortless.
To hold on to some of our sanity and privacy once the winery opens, we decided to build a new driveway entrance to reach the winery site. And when I say driveway, really I mean ROAD. It's almost a mile long and will allow 2 cars to pass comfortably. Over the years we have been taking notes of what works and what doesn't work for other wineries while making deliveries of our grapes. One common problem we ran into was being able to easily get in and out of places with our pickup and large trailer, so we made sure that even a semi would be able to get in and out with out too much trickery. We had an opportunity of having a blank slate to work from so we didn't want to cut any corners as far as the road was concerned.
Early last week LBE came out to install the silt fences to keep the dirt from washing into our ponds and two days later the excavator and dozer started moving dirt! We have been told it will be 1-2 weeks for the road to be completed and then they will move onto the parking lot and building pad.
Our GOAL is to have the production space move in ready by the time the fruit is ready to crush, so late August - early September. This has been a really goofy spring and early summer as far as the weather has been concerned, but we are really hopeful it will all come together.
Thanks for following us along on this journey! We hope this becomes a really special place for all of you to gather and celebrate family, friendships, and community!
Located just minutes South of Glenwood, Minnesota on our family farm, Rolling Forks Vineyards will have a production facility and tasting room - set to open June 2020!
ROLLING FORKS VINEYARDS - PRODUCTION FACILITY & TASTING ROOM
Our new winery will include a production facility, which will begin producing around 3,000 cases of wine, and eventually scaling up to over 20,000 cases of wine a year. It will also include an underground barrel room, offices and a guest room for consulting winemakers.
And it wouldn't be complete without a tasting room and kitchen, allowing us to provide samples, meals and wine (of course!) for our guests. We also plan to provide ample outdoor seating to enjoy the amazing views and sunsets this great location has to offer.
Down the road, we plan to expand to include an event facility and larger tasting room to accommodate more guests along with weddings, corporate parties and more. We are so excited to be able to share this with all of you and offer it right here in Pope County!
Pre-Order Your Rolling Forks Vineyards Gear
We've teamed up with American Diversity to offer pre-order merchandise from Rolling Forks Vineyards to mark our ground breaking. This is an exclusive offer - with orders only being taken through June 24th.
To sweeten the deal, we're giving the first 20 people who order $50 or more a FREE TASTING when we open our tasting room! So don't wait - get your order in today!
About the Author
I'm Melanie, co-owner of Rolling Forks Vineyards, boy mom & wine lover.