We had a very full week these past several days. They boys were off school from Thursday through Monday for their MEA Fall Break, so like we do most years, I headed to my parents with our three boys. My sister Stephanie, who lives in the Metro, was home with her kids, my brother Justin and his family, who live just a few miles away, spent much of the weekend with us, and my sister Ashley from Aberdeen, SD made the trip as well with her two kids. MEA weekend is usually spent soaking in lots of cousin time for the kids, a little sibling bonding time for us, combine rides with Grandpa Steve, and Pumpkin Bars with Grandma Audrey. We even made it over to Great Grandma Leona's for a little Trick-or-Treating so she could see all of the great grandchildren in their costumes.
While we were gone, Joe was busy working on our own harvest, trying to get as much done has he could before the rain came (again). He was able to get about 40% of the corn harvested with the help of his brother Jake. We still have beans in the ground and quite a bit of corn. We received almost 2" of rain between Sunday night and Monday, and as of today, the ground is still too wet to go combine so we have to focus on other projects, and wait until it freezes to finish up.
We have about a 30 acre field in front of our house that has been a problem child for us for a while now. It's always so wet. There are spots that we should be able to farm that never seem to dry out. After the very wet summer we had this year, Joe decided it was time to put in some drain tile to help remove the excess water. Rick Erickson, from Erickson Excavating was out this week with his crew to help us with this. If you are interested in learning more about how drain tile is installed or more specifics on why its done, you can check out this video by MN Millennial Farmer, who is a fellow Pope County, MN resident doing a great job advocating for the Ag Industry. Our hope is to some day plant grapes on this field, but we have to make sure the soil is fit, and that it drains well before we can put any vines in the ground. This was the first step.
For those that live in Minnewaska Township, or use Selnes Road to get to and from where you are going, you know how soft this road can get during the spring thaw and after wet weather. I have good news today! Minnewaska Township FINALLY replaced a collapsed culvert that was causing much of the troubles we were dealing with, and we are so thankful!
Let's move on to some talk about the winery! After losing two more days this week to rain and wind, Shane's crew was finally able to start placing the walls for the Production Area, and it went fast! Shane said the all of the production walls should all be up by the end of the day today! YEA!!! I have included a video below of how the panels get placed for those of you that geek out about stuff like this.
Once the roof is placed and the floor is poured, we'll be ready to start making some wine! That's still several weeks out, but it's starting to feel more real :)
And Lundblads finished the rock wall I talked about in my last post. Isn't it beautiful!?! I can't wait for you to see it up close and personal!
Lastly, a quick reminder that our online store will go live November 1st. We will have new apparel items that were not offered this summer, and merchandise such as glassware, hats, and bottle carriers. The store will remain open for two weeks and then will not be available again until the tasting room opens. My plan is to have everything shipped or delivered by December 16th, just in time for the holidays! So make your lists and get ready!
This is the view out of my new office window. How cool is that! A beautiful view of Lake Minnewaska and our vineyards - I am so lucky! I have been working out of my car (on my lunch breaks when I had a town job), our kitchen table (when Joe was working out of our basement), and our basement (now that Joe has his own space in the shop) for the last 6 years, and I am very much looking forward to finally having a space of my own.
Since this summer I have been meeting periodically with my dear friend Karina from Meco7 in Glenwood, to help me put a bow on the winery, but most importantly, my office :) If you have never visited her store, make it a priority! (But wait just a couple of weeks - she's moving to a bigger space very soon) She has everything you ever thought you needed (or didn't need) to make your house feel like a home! Furniture, rugs, pillows, wall hangings, mirrors, giftables, chocolate, candles, clothing, baby, kitchen tools, everything! Seriously, you need to go!
For this phase of the winery project we decided to forego using an interior designer, but instead we benefited from Karina's professional opinion to make calculated decisions regarding the interior and exterior spaces of the winery. If it were up to Joe and I, it would literally look like a cracker box, and Karina has really helped me walk through each of the spaces and make our choices very intentionally. I'm so excited for you to see what we have come up with and so grateful for the help she has offered!
Shane, Dan, and Jake from Gateway installed more of the SIPs walls this week. This fall weather has not been cooperating at all with our construction schedule, but each week we chip away at more. Last week we lost 2 days to rain/snow and 1 day to high winds, so I'm thankful that this week, although chilly, has been good for our crew! The picture above is the interior wall between the production space and the offices, kitchen, and lab areas. We will have storage above where the large cut out is. Below are the trusses, patiently waiting to be installed, Curt from Lundblads working on some compaction work in the production space, and an interior view of the tasting room.
Let's talk about our patio for a minute. I envision you spending a lot of time there in the near future. Dennis Lundblad did quite a bit of dirt work over the last couple of weeks leveling that area out. Today he was working on the retaining wall on the east side of the building. The best part is, all of the rock he's using came from our property somewhere. We are calling them "estate grown" rock. :) They are massive boulders and will make quite the statement when he's finished. It feels really great to finally give these rock a home, rather than having them sit in a pile the remainder of their lives (hahaha).
And Thein Well was able to come out today to finish pulling pipe to the building and placing the pumps below ground. And our 3-phase power from REA and internet from Starbuck Telephone should be pulled in this week too! Slowly we are checking things off the list and it feels pretty good!
And we FINALLY were able to start our soybean harvest. Early last week there were a couple of days before it snowed that Joe was able to combine about 80% of our soybeans. Then the snow came and we've been sitting since. But I think we were one of the fortunate ones in the area that were able to get into the field. The boys each took a ride with Joe in the combine after school on Tuesday. Usually during harvest they don't get to see much of their dad, so I try to get them out to the field to do that each year.
Lastly, I've been working with Alisha Zavadil from American Diversity here in Glenwood on putting together some new products for our holiday order. And I'm SO EXCITED about what she has come up with! Here's a sneak peek of what will be available - Look for more information beginning in November and start making your list!
Ever imagine enjoying a glass of Rolling Forks Vineyards wine with a sunset like this?!? Soon you won’t have to imagine it because you will be here with us, enjoying this together!
The Gateway crew was hard at it again between rains this last week. They capped the basement and started to put up the walls to the tasting room. It has been great to finally see some tangible progress. Their work so far, though still very important, has focused mostly on the footings and foundation, which has since been all covered up. Their work now includes all the things we can see, and it will just get better from here.
And because the basement is now capped, Lundblads could finish up backfilling the production area. Joe even decided to lend a hand and run one of the packers for a while. Even though it was cold, I think he enjoyed being able to help.
Tonight the sunset was one that was incredible. I was cleaning up dishes from supper and Joe told me to head out to the site quickly to snap a few shots. I needed to get a few extra pictures anyway for this weeks post, so it worked out pretty well. I was a few minutes late for the REALLY great part of the sunset, but still, it was beautiful!
Today was also a big day in our house. Our baby Oliver, who is not much of a baby anymore, turned 3! We grabbed lunch after church and they treated him to a monster brownie! Thankfully he had two brothers who helped him finish it!
We have been watching the weather pretty closely over the last week too, because we are itching to get in the field to harvest our corn and soybeans. Joe thought we would need a few more good days of drying, and the soybeans may be ready. There is some snow in the forecast and the ground is still very saturated - so only time will tell. We thought our first year farming in 2010 was one to remember, but I think the harvest of 2019 will have that beat. Continue to pray for our farmers, that they can mentally, physically , and emotionally complete this year’s harvest successfully.
Until next time!
About the Author
I'm Melanie, co-owner of Rolling Forks Vineyards, boy mom & wine lover.