Progress feels so good! Shane and his crew at Gateway made some serious headway this week. They got the area for the basement floor prepped and poured this week, which meant when that was finished, the walls could start going up! And because our building is a SIPs building (written more about it here), they could really get some work done after the floor cured.
Yes, Oliver is still in his jammies at 10am on Saturday, but that's how we roll around here on the weekends sometimes. This weekend we are using to recharge after our grape harvest, and prep for the corn and soybean harvest that will likely happen in the next couple of weeks.
Lundblads moved more sand this week for back-filling the production area, worked on the parking lot, and our "overflow" parking lot where they recovered much of the fill we used for the driveway. Things are shaping up nicely and its starting to really look like something.
And if you follow us on Facebook, you would have seen the last of our equipment arrived from Italy this week. We now have our pumps, tanks, and catwalk for the production area. Currently its sitting in our yard, but soon we will be able to move it all in the new building. I mentioned that it's like Christmas, but like when your parents tell you you can't open anything until you get home. :) Soon!
As mentioned above, we wrapped up our grape harvest this past week with the help of a few volunteers. It feels really great to have that finished up before we move into corn and soybeans.
Thank you for your continued kind words and support as we move through this project! We are anxious to share this with you all next summer!
I feel like a broken record here, but this waiting gig is SO HARD. I feel like we have been in a season of waiting for way too long. Ten years too long. And when we FINALLY were able to start construction it seems we are still forced to WAIT. God is clearly trying to tell us to trust Him. That’s the only logical explanation.
We have been waiting on the weather - to stop raining - and boy has it rained, and waiting for the site to dry out enough to have successful working days, and waiting on contractors to show up on time - one in particular, and waiting on licenses, and it seems all we do lately is wait.
And I sound like I am complaining, but really I'm coming from a place of absolute frustration. We are having to crush this year’s crop differently than we planned - spending extra (unplanned) funds on freezing the fruit. Our (very expensive) equipment is starting to arrive and we have no place to put it, so it will have to sit outside in the elements until we have the space finished. And by the time this is all said and done, we will likely be moving into the building in the snow. And that is really frustrating.
I found an article online (here) that offers 3 things to remember when sitting in a season of waiting.
1. Waiting Isn’t Punishment
Its often preparation or protection - and I believe this is a lot of what’s going on.
2. The Waiting Won’t Last Forever
There will be a resolution - and I know there will be, we can see it so clearly, which makes the waiting that much more difficult
3. You Don’t Just Have to Idly Sit Around Doing Nothing
And we aren't. This waiting period has allowed us -especially Joe - a few extra evenings with the kids to soak in their activities before the busyness of harvest will make it nearly impossible.
This week the plumbing in the basement was installed and the state plumber, John, did his inspection and passed this stage of the project. So Gateway’s crew can now finish backfilling around the basement walls and prep to pour the basement floor next week.
Lundblad’s have been busy this week as well, hauling fill from one part of our property up to the winery site. We were blessed enough to find a very large sand pit that provided perfect material for backfilling the production area and a base for the parking lot. This helped our budget immensely! It’s been so nice to have these materials at our disposal and I’m sure the guys are thankful they only have to make trips around the property, instead of from across town - because they have moved a lot of material.
And our well was installed this week - We Have Water!!!💦💦💦. Thien Well Company out of Spicer, MN drilled the well. Their team was great to work with through the entire process. Our well has to be “Certified Public Water” and Joe had some special requests as far as his needs in the production space. They were able to make it all happen. We received a bunch of rain from the time they set their drilling machine and when they finished up, so they got stuck while trying to leave. Joe gave them a big tug with our old tractor, and they were on their way!
And these piles of materials are just WAITING to be installed! Soon, my friends. Very soon!
Harvest will continue again tomorrow! We have some volunteers stopping out to help us hand pick a couple of varieties and then the machine harvester will get back to work next week. Anyone is welcome to join us tomorrow. We will start at our house at 8am and pick until we are done. We will provide a fun time and lunch!
Because we are dealing with yet another rain delay, I'm going to focus this post on some of the people that worked behind the scenes to help our vision come to life, and those that help make the lives of the construction workers a little easier :)
Stephanie Howe and her team at Studio E Architects, of Glenwood, MN has worked with us for about 3 years to help put our vision to life. We went through several revisions. We started first with drawings of the entire site which included a larger tasting room, full kitchen, and event center. We quickly realized that was going to WAY out of our budget range, so we scaled back things to what you will see when everything is complete. Her team probably did a happy dance when our prints were finalized, because we changed a lot of things, several times, but we wanted to make sure that we only had to build this once, and that we could grow into it, rather than constantly add on because of space issues. I really do think we go it right. Finally! Studio E also worked alongside Joe Nicholson at Design Tree Engineering to do the structural engineering on the project. This was instrumental in getting the foundation and footing walls done properly.
Brian Schulz and his team at Schultz Engineering were our civil engineers on the project. Because of the scope of our project, the fact that it was a commercial project, and because of the large road we built, Studio E suggested we bring on a CE to help put that part of the project together. It helped us gather a lot of important information regarding elevations, watershed, and soil types. They worked together with Chosen Valley Testing to complete the soil borings and geotechnical reporting.
We have gotten to know Eric at Nyberg Surveying pretty well over the last couple of years. He has come out a couple of times to do different surveys for us, but the most interesting one was the topographical survey he did on the land that the winery will sit on. Our property is very hilly and having that topo map was invaluable to the excavation and engineering teams, and in our eyes virtually priceless.
We can not forget about everyone over at the county office! David Green and his entire team at the Land Resource Management office have been fantastic to work with. They have been so patient with all of our questions, helping us secure our conditional use permit, building permit, and septic permit. We are seriously so lucky to have these people available to us to help make the county such a great place to live!
And let's talk about that septic system for a bit. Scott Elwood from Elwood Septic Professionals worked with us on our septic design. Twice. We dug SO MANY HOLES to find the right spot to put the septic system. He first drew up a mound system plan when our digs came up empty for the right soil types to have a gravity fed system with drain field. BUT, he stuck with us and was so patient. And we found the perfect spot. I wrote about it more here. I couldn't find a website or social media pages for Scott, so here's a link to his BBB rating. A+ and we agree!
HPS Rental is providing our site with "The John" for when nature calls and the workers have to "go." I'm not sure I need to say any much more about this, other than I appreciate having this service available in our area.
Tom Kraemer Inc is providing the waste removal for us. They are literally a phone call away and help us in keeping the site clean. Again, we are so thankful to have this service available to us so close to home.
Neil Nelson from Obenland & Nelson has been our attorney since probably 2012. Neil and Joe graduated high school together, played football together, and now our kids go to school together. He has helped us put our wills and estate plan together, worked on some of our business contracts, set up all of our business LLCs, and helped with a few of our property purchases and sales. He also helped facilitate the loan closing on our winery financing and his office is now doing our construction draws. He's been a great resource (and friend) to help us navigate through all of the questions we had about setting up the winery, protecting our assets, and ensuring our kids are taken care of should anything ever happen to me and Joe. Thanks Neil!
And finally our lenders. This all would not be possible without our financial partners at Glenwood State Bank and Prairieland EDC. We contacted Glenwood State Bank in early 2018 about our project. But the timing wasn't right for either of us. So we were patient and so were they. Then around December of 2018 I reached out to Chris Roering at the bank again about taking another look. We were ready. We just needed someone to take the plunge with us and believe in our vision. Chris found an SBA partnership with Prairieland EDC out of Slayton, MN and we worked for a couple of months to put it all together. With our other business ventures and the farm, our financial portfolio gets complicated pretty quickly. We sincerely appreciate the work of everyone at GSB who worked on helping put this all together.
It's taking quite the team of people to have this all come together. I probably have forgotten some, but I sure hope not. If so, I will give them all the accolades in my next post :) If you run into any of these businesses, please give them all the praise for working with us. It hasn't always been sunshine and rainbows, but we do appreciate all their efforts!
Things have gotten a little crazy around here this week! The boys started school on Tuesday. Henry is in 2nd grade, Vinny is in Kindergarten, and Oliver will be starting preschool next week! They are all really excited about getting back into a more structured schedule :) LOL (I think Mom is the most excited!) Vinny said he only got into trouble 2 times on his first day for "blurting out" when it wasn't his turn - and that doesn't come as a surprise for those that know Vinny well :)
Construction keeps clipping along. Joe and I made some changes to the basement - adding a couple of bathrooms and a small bar to service the outdoor patio, so our plumbing plans had to go back to the State Plumber for review and approval. That's causing some delay for the plumbers and the rest of the project, but we are hoping they can get started on Monday and keep things moving along. We would rather take care of it now and have it be right - but the wait is SO HARD!
Our building is going to be a Structural Insulated Panel (SIPs) building made by Enercept out of Watertown, SD. "Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are high performance building panels used in floors, walls and roofs for residential and light commercial buildings. SIPs are made with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid foam core sandwiched between two structural skins of 7/16″ oriented strand board (OSB). When the two are laminated together, they create an insulated panel that is 2-1/2 times stronger than a stick-frame wall." The interior side of the panel will have Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP), and Enercept was able to apply that in their factory, making the on-site process much quicker!
The panels arrived this week and are just waiting to be put together!
There was a really bad storm that rolled through the area on Monday night around 8pm. The hail started just at the vineyard site over at Brian's and moved through our corn fields, as well as our neighbors, and the community of Brooten. Thankfully the vines at our house and the winery site were not affected, but much of our corn crop was shredded up pretty badly, and the grapes were bruised too. This year for farming was probably one of our most difficult years on record for us personally. It was a late, LONG spring to get the crop in. The weather has been cold and wet. And now much of our efforts were lost to a few minutes of hail that rolled through. But, farmers are eternal optimists, right? And it could have been much worse. So we are thankful and will keep pushing forward :)
Because of the storm and the hail, we made the decision to pull one of the varieties a few days early. These seemed to be affected the most by the storm and it was important to salvage as much as we could. These grapes went to a new winery coming north of Glenwood called Whitetail Meadow Winery. Because of our licenses and the current state of our building, along with the early harvest of this variety and low yields we had this year, we made the decision to sell them. Deanna has bought from us in the past and she's just a few miles up the road, so it was an easy decision.
And our equipment started arriving this week too! Our press arrived yesterday and the crusher and filter arrived today. We are still waiting on the pumps and the tanks which are coming from Italy, and are currently out at sea. Hurricane Dorian has delayed the delivery of that, but we are hoping we should see that shipment by the end of next week!
And finally a progress report on the grapes. Joe is estimating a week from Monday we’ll continue with the rest of our harvest. We used to hand harvest everything, up until last year, when Joe’s Uncle Mark purchased the grape harvestor (pictured above). What used to take ten people, 10+ ten-hour days, now can be done in just a couple of days with 3 people. It’s a HUGE time saver, we can control when we harvest, and we don’t have to manage a whole crew of people. Plus, we feel we get a cleaner sample of fruit from the harvestor because it blows out any leaves and bugs that would have potentially come with hand-harvested fruit.
We will have to hand harvest one variety this year however. The vines are just a few years old so we don’t think they are quite mature enough yet to go through the harvestor. So, if you are interested in learning more and want to come volunteer for a day, we plan to pick that variety on September 21st. Contact me to get on the list in the form below!
Whew! We made it! Hopefully I’ll have lots of building progress pictures next week! Fingers crossed!
About the Author
I'm Melanie, co-owner of Rolling Forks Vineyards, boy mom & wine lover.