There's a very good reason for my absence over the last couple of weeks and I will share that below, but let's get into what has been going on as far as construction and progress on the winery over the last couple of weeks!
Last time I wrote, Creative Coatings out of Cyrus was here working on the floor coating. They finished it up early that next week which meant we could move the tanks out of our yard and into the winery. Here is a time-lapse of them working on the floor that I promised last time:
Cool! Joe is always thinking ahead! Next up was moving day! This was something we all were looking forward to because we wanted get the tanks out of the snow and out of the yard so we didn't have to risk them getting damaged any longer.
They. Look. Awesome! If you follow us on Facebook you may have seen a few pictures and videos of this taking place.
We called in a few people to help with move in day and it was actually pretty uneventful. Exciting, but uneventful. My dad spent a few nights with us, Joe and Darrien of course were there, as well as the Erickson cousins from Starbuck. Lots of muscle, a couple of machines, and they were done! Other than a little ice and the snow melting off everything, it went really smoothly.
Here's a time-lapse of the guys setting the tanks:
All while that was going on, Mike Lundebrek was busy roughing in more electrical, installing lights in my office, and putting the lights in the production area.
And the lights are so cool! The production lights, as well as much of the rest of the building, are on what's called the Light Cloud by RAB. It's a system that is just what it sounds like - the lights can be controlled via anywhere in the world. Our neighbors might have been wondering what was going on at the building after these were installed because Joe was playing with his new toy and turning the lights on and off in the winery, from the couch in the house. We can set different programs to the lights and dim each of the fixtures individually. For example, we can set all of the lights to 100% brightness during the daytime hours when the guys will be working in there, and then set them to dim to 20% in the evening hours when that part of the facility will be shut down. Joe and Mike were really happy to partner with RAB on this project and make this happen!
And while all of that was going on, the HVAC guys and Plumbers were out doing their thing as well. The duct-work was installed, a lot of pipe was put in, and the furnaces were delivered. The state inspector was out this past Monday to do a partial approval so we could continue moving forward on the production room. Thein Well returned to turn the water on this week. It will be SO NICE to finally have water out there and not have to haul buckets from the farm out to the site to get things done.
And let's not forget about Shane and his crew. They got 1/2 of the sheet steel put on the roof, worked on getting most of the battens up in the production space, put the vestibule on, installed the steel doors, and had the insulation and sheet rock installed this week as well.
Everything is really coming together now and we are itching to move in, but there's still a lot left to do. So we will be patient a little longer. I think everyone working on this project will be so happy when its all wrapped up!
I also took a class a couple of nights this month to get my ServSafe certification. So you can all rest at ease knowing we have a certified food inspection manager on site when you are sipping your wine on the patio this summer. You're welcome :)
Our family celebrated Vinny's 6th birthday on January 29th, enjoyed a special wedding for my cousin, and had the honors of welcoming Diana from the Internal Revenue Service (yes, the IRS) to our home this week to conduct an audit all while construction continued at the winery. It has been a whirlwind to say the least, but I think we are almost out of the woods thanks to my super awesome organization skills, and ability to never throw anything away. We will definitely be celebrating when that is all wrapped up!
And finally a shout out to the Pope County Tribune and the great Minnewaska Visitors Guide they put together for 2020 that will be coming out soon! It highlights so many great businesses and places that make this area so awesome! We were thrilled when they approached us about doing an article about the winery! Here's a sneak peek!
Joe did such a good job explaining where our name came from in his Facebook post, I wanted to save it here on our blog as well!
Ever look across the lake from the Minnewaska High School and wonder what's going up on top of the hill? Yup, that's the winery! 2.7 miles door to door as the crow flies. Looking to the south, you can see the rolling hills that meander down to beautiful Lake Minnewaska. The unique topography is why we chose the words "Rolling" and "Forks" in our name. The picture shows the four "Forks" that provide natural drainage for the site. It doesn't look like it, but the winery is approximately 174 feet above lake level which gives an excellent opportunity for the cold air to drain away during those still nights where frost forms! That, and we have little worry for flooding on the site:)
Things keep happening at the winery while we navigate sick kids at home. We've had the stomach flu and now ear infections, but hopefully we are on the mend finally!
A lot has happened since my last update at the winery! I was hoping to write this on Friday, but we had a crazy weekend of family things going on, it just didn't happen.
Shane and his crew finished up installing the ceiling and sheet rock on the 3rd level and stairwell, Mission Mechanical continued with the plumbing and HVAC, and Mike Lundebrek was out all week wiring and installing boxes.
The newest contractor to the project was added last week to install the floor coating in the production space. John Boeckner and his crew from Creative Coatings out of Cyrus, MN were out most of last week working on the floor. One thing that was important to Joe was that he didn't want the floor to fill with wine stains. We know its probably inevitable, but we wanted to mitigate it as much as possible. So we worked with John to pick out a system that should help keep the stains at bay. John did up some samples for us that we tested this past fall when we were going through harvest. We let the juice sit on the sample for several days and there was no staining!
For the flooring geeks out there, the system we selected is a combination floor. There's base coat of cement urethane, then a couple layers of ground quartz that were broadcast, then finally a couple of coats of clear polyaspartic to seal it in. The quartz will also provide some traction to help keep the floor from being too slippery when it gets wet.
Today they are finishing up and cutting the lines and filling in with an epoxy filler - which means move in day is coming very soon and my snow ornaments in the yard can finally go to their home!
It was a really large floor area for them to work with, making sure the coloring and layers were consistent, but we are very pleased with how it turned out!
Watch for a post on Facebook later this week of the time-laps video of their work. The sample that Joe showed me is pretty neat to see!
Joe also decided to take on a project of his own! He, his brother Jake, and right hand man Darrien worked on tiling the utility room and a closet before the mechanicals get moved in. He got a STEAL of a deal on some tile and it was hard to pass up. They need to install the grout and then it will be done!
It looks like this week we will get the roof steel put on and we will start moving in the catwalk and tanks! I'm so excited for the next update!
This was a busy and productive week at the winery site! Shane's crew started the week off getting the ceiling installed. We had to make some changes during the install, but we are glad we were able to make the decision on the fly, and are so happy with the final result!
Once the ceiling was installed, McPherson Products could come in and get the spray foam insulation installed. They sprayed the attic in the tasting room, about 80% of the production space, and all around the perimeter of the basement. They will need to come back and finish the production space next week, as well as the attic space above the 3rd level. This has really helped keep things warm on the interior and we are SO THANKFUL to have this step almost complete.
All while this was going on, Mike Lundebrek kept chipping away at the electrical work. I don't know much about electrical wiring, but the highway of conduit is impressive! Next week he'll be able to start installing the light fixtures in the production space. We are getting closer and closer to making this space operational.
Joe also decided to take on a little project of his own. Because the ceiling of the production space is black, we wanted the duct work to match. Joe contacted Kim Haan at Sherwin Williams in Alexandria. She helped make the correct paint choices for the application and he was on his way. Tonight we finished up the last coat and I'm certain it will look really sharp once they are installed. We even brought our helpers along to make sure dad was doing a good job ;)
And just like Mike Lundebrek was able to make progress with the electrical, Mission Mechanical had their crew out much of the week getting the boiler installed so we could turn the in-floor heat on. We decided to only place the lines around the perimeter of the concrete slabs to keep the foundation walls from sweating during the winter months.
The biggest and best part of the week was getting the garage doors installed. Aren't they beautiful? Viking Garage Door out of Alexandria helped us put them in place. We have worked with Janet and her team in the past on other projects around our farm - she and her crew are wonderful to work with and highly recommended!
With the ceiling insulated now and the garage doors installed, it's holding the heat in much better now (for obvious reasons) so we are hoping Fauskee's will get a bit of a break before filling up our LP tank again. We are probably more excited about that then they are ;)
This coming week will be full of more exciting changes!
Enter this new year with a gratitude for this new chance to create your dreams - Avina Celeste
We made it to 2020 and we officially have a (construction) door to the production area! And it dawned on me just now, our oldest son will be graduating High School in 2030 which is only TEN YEARS away! That's crazy to think about. What kind of successes and struggles will we have experienced between now and when he graduates? Whew! Deep thoughts on this Friday afternoon.
I took a break from blogging about the project over the holidays. We soaked in a lot of family fun during the last couple of weeks, but I'm ready for the boys to get back to school so we can get back into our normal routine! A lot has happened in the winery as well! We are closer and closer to getting equipment moved in and juice fermenting.
The floor in the production space has now been poured and our ticking clock has started ticking! Shane brought in some extra hands again to help the second pour go smoothly. Things will start clipping along fairly quickly over the next couple of weeks and I may go back to my weekly updates because things will be changing rather fast.
We brought the boys out to the site over break to run off some energy. They threw a football around and ran a few laps. Oliver wanted to help with something, so we gave him a shovel and he moved some dirt. We made sure he kept it on the outside :)
Once the floor was finally finished, Shane's crew could focus on getting some of the interior framing done. I know it probably doesn't look like anything to you, but soon, it will be bathrooms, both downstairs and upstairs, and the upper level office area and mezzanine.
Once the framing was done, they could start hanging sheet rock. Woooo Whooo! These are pictures of the inside of the tasting room, including a firewall that was installed between the tasting room and production space.
Once the framing was in, Mike Lundebreck could start wiring things in as well. I know it's hard to get excited about wires, but its a sign of how close we are to getting to move in!
And because the floor has cured enough, Shane's crew could start installing the wrap on the ceiling of the production area because...next week our ceiling gets installed! The plastic is black because the ceiling will be black. I realized today it helps "ground" the room a little, so the walls don't seem so tall.
More materials have been arriving in preparation of the coming weeks. Today was the ductwork from Mission Mechanical.
And for those that come here for more than just construction updates, here are a few pictures from our holiday events.
So for the inquiring minds who need to know (including me), next week will we will have a ceiling, then the garage doors can go in, the duct work can be hung, and the insulation can be installed. While all of this is going on, the plumbing and electrical will continue to go in. Toward the end of the month the floor coating in the production space will be applied and a week after that has cured the equipment can start to be moved in!!! THEN, we can call the state inspectors to come in and give us their blessing. Once we have that, the wine making will commence.
Who is excited?!?! (I wish I could add emojis while I type this - I'm an emoji kind of person.)
The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. We have done a lot of winter activities, took in the boys' Christmas concerts, attended the annual meeting for CHS Inc in Minneapolis, done some Christmas-ing, and tried to keep up with the progress on the winery! Where should I begin?
You are likely here to get an update on our building progress, so that's where I will start.
Your eyes are NOT playing tricks on you!
We started pouring concrete for the production space late last week! A lot of preparation went into making this happen and it feels so good!
The trench drains were installed, the waste oil interceptor installation was finally completed, lots of insulation was put down, miles of rebar were laid down, and water lines were installed.
The concrete will be poured in three phases, all of which were delayed because of the below zero temperatures that visited our area last week. Yes, more delays, but we still made some progress! Shane brought in some extra help to make this happen and we are so appreciative! Thursday of last week we poured just around the drains to set them in so they wouldn't shift when the rest of the floor was poured. Friday they poured the west half of the room and the east half will be installed later this week due to more cold temps in the forecast. Then the clock can start ticking and wine making can begin!
When the floor is finally complete, we can install the garage doors, ceiling, and blow the insulation in the attic. It's been pretty expensive keeping this space warm in preparation for the concrete installation - we have been taking deliveries of LP almost every 2 weeks - so having the building sealed up even more will be so nice!
In other news, Joe and I were contacted in October about being nominated by our local CHS board to attend their Young Leaders Conference and Annual Meeting, which was to happen in December in Minneapolis. We were honored to be selected but a little apprehensive about going because of the construction project. We realized that we wouldn't be in the building yet and there wasn't much more we could help with, so I called my dad to see if he could come stay with the boys and help them get to school, and we took off for the week to learn as much as we could.
David Horsager from the Trust Edge Leadership Institute was the keynote speaker for the Young Leaders Conference. We also had some learning sessions about stress, grain marketing, and the changing landscape of farming as we know it. We learned a lot and brought home some good tools that we will be able to use in our businesses, farm, winery, as well as in our family. Thank you Prairie Lakes Co-op for the opportunity!
It was a long couple of days but we were excited to come home and see the boys. They made some really great memories with their Grandpa while he was here as well, going to two lighted parades, the community supper here in Glenwood, Christmas concerts, and Pizza Ranch!
We also carved out some time to get our Christmas tree, finish decorating, spending some time with cousins, and taking in a youth basketball tournament for my niece.
They call this work/life balance, right? I think we are doing a pretty good job at that and making lots of memories with the boys!
One last thing! If you are looking for last minute Christmas gifts, we have them here! Lots of merchandise items - wine glasses, tumblers, hats, etc, clothing, and of course gift certificates!
Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner and it's become a great reminder in recent years of how truly blessed we are. In the Spring of 2017 my dad received the dreaded news that no one ever wants to get: Cancer. Triple Hit Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Stage 4) was his diagnosis. He underwent several rounds of intense Chemotherapy in Sioux Falls, SD, before being referred to a team of Oncologists at the Mayo Clinic. That year we spent Thanksgiving apart from my family. My parents were in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic, where my dad was just beginning a stem cell transplant, that was to eradicate any cancer that may be hiding in his body. By Christmas of 2017, his treatment was complete and he received the OK to come home. It was one of the most magical Christmas' I can remember, and something we all are very thankful for. His cancer journey was the catalyst for us to get this winery dream going and make it a reality!
Things may not be on schedule with the winery project, but it allowed us to take another weekend off and spend it with family for our quarterly birthday party. My family has a tradition to get together and celebrate all of the kids birthdays at my parents, so we have 4 big birthday parties spaced out throughout the year, and we always have a great time! We also used the 4th quarter party to get pictures taken with grandma and grandpa in matching jammies for their Christmas card. And if that wasn't enough fun, we also celebrated Thanksgiving on Sunday with them. It was a full weekend, but its a nice way to recharge and reconnect with everyone. We will be with Joe's family on Thanksgiving Day to have our celebration with them.
It's been some time since my last winery update, but if you follow us on Facebook, you would have seen that the windows have been installed!! The temps are dropping, so it's been nice to have these help keep the cold outside. We have to keep the production space heated in order to keep the frost out in preparation of the concrete being poured. Having the windows have helped keep the wind from moving through so drastically.
The interior walls are also getting framed in and things are really starting to take shape! My office looking through to the kitchen is on the left and the lab area is on the right.
Earlier this week, the State Plumbing inspector came in and gave his blessing on the plumbing lines that were installed for the floor drains, so now the rest of the project can move forward. The gas line was put in place and electrical lines are being installed. We are still pushing to get the floor poured...soon. I know I probably sound like a broken record. I hoped that this week I could have announced that it was completed, but it is not. And because of the holiday we will lose more days of productivity. But my prayer is that the crew will spend some time to rest and recharge and be ready to really push this next week to finish that floor. The clock is ticking and each week that goes by is another week we pay to have our juice in storage, and another week later that we will be able to open next summer. Soon...
And I want to extend a HUGE thank you to those of you who placed your orders last week for the apparel. This allowed us to generate a little bit of cash flow to help us buy supplies for the wine making process that will happen in the not-too-distant future. We are thankful and so blessed to be apart of this community, and to have such great supporters far and wide cheering us on! Safe travels to all of you who are making trips to spend with friends and family on this extended weekend. May your cups always be full! And may they be full of RFV wine next year :) Blessings to all of you!
We decided instead of opening a winery, we would open an indoor playground for the kids :) We'll have wine and drinks available for the big kids, and lots of sand for the little kids to dig in. Sounds fun, right? I'm totally kidding, but our kids had a great time yesterday running around and digging in the sand pile inside the production space.
This week Gateway focused on getting the roof liner buttoned up, closing up the floor trusses on the outside, and installing the house wrap on the ceiling of the production space. We are pushing hard to get that space prepared to pour the floor hopefully at the end of this week.
In order for that to happen, we need to get the floor drains installed, the plumbers need to come out to make the connections to the drains, and the sand needs to be re-compacted. The State Plumbing inspector needs to then come out and approve everything before the cement trucks can come. Any and all positive thoughts and prayers will be accepted! :) Once the floor is poured, the clock starts and we need to wait 28 days before we can start installing equipment. So the sooner the floor is poured, the sooner we can start making wine!
These floor drains will have a narrow opening with a wider base underneath the concrete floor and will look similar to the photo below when its complete. These will be installed under each row of tanks and will help collect water from our tank wash-downs and move the water away quickly, resulting in a safer environment for us to work in. These were on Joe's "must have" list of items he wanted for the production space, so hopefully they won't disappoint!
Lastly, a small tribute. My good friend Megan lost her battle with cancer over the weekend. She fought so hard and her body endured so much. She was one-of-a-kind! She loved cats and worked relentlessly at rescuing them and finding them new homes. She re-homed a few on our farm over the years. She had the most beautiful voice too and my plan was to have her perform at the winery next summer. Sadly that won't happen, but I have a feeling she will find ways to let us know she's still with us - probably through stray cats showing up every now and then :) I have lots of regrets, wishing I would have made more of an effort to see her after I moved, wishing we took more pictures, wishing we would have taken that trip she always talked about, wishing I would have been able to see her one last time and say goodbye. I know she knew I loved her and that's what matters most. She loved unconditionally, gave selflessly, fought her battle fiercely, and lived freely.
I'm so grateful she shared a bit of her life with us. Rest in peace friend!
Happy Deer Hunting Opener to all of those sporting orange this weekend! Our hunting party arrived last night as they do every year on deer opener weekend. My brother and a group of his friends from back home spend quite a bit of time up here every year during deer season waiting for their trophy buck to make its appearance. They've gotten lucky once with a trophy, but have filled tags each year. Speaking of deer, check out these questionable critters we found on our trail cams at the winery site:
:) We have seen tracks, but now we have evidence! :)
The focus this week was to get the roof capped and building sealed up so we can get the heat on and floor poured. We are almost there! Shane and his guys put on all of the roof sheeting and started applying the green paper to make it weatherproof. The gable ends will be closed up early next week and then the rest of the prep work for the floor can happen. We can't start making wine until the inside of the production space is finished. The biggest task being the floor - we have to wait 28 days before we can start filling tanks in order for the floor to cure properly. There's still much to be done and it seems a little daunting, but we are hopeful by Christmas we should be able to have the fermenters going, as long as the space is ready and the state inspectors can make it out to give us their approval. Fingers crossed!
Mike Lundebrek was back out this last week finishing up the power hook up with REA. We now have a meter, which I guess means we'll start getting bills in the mail (LOL!). We have two working outlets in the basement and officially have power! Shane no longer has to run the generators to charge the batteries for his power tools and they can run the radio all day, so they are excited! It's the little things, right?
One thing about Mike Lundebrek is you hardly know he's here, but yet there is visible progress each day. He keeps his nose to the ground and gets his work done, and we are so thankful he's on our construction team!
We also got a heater unit installed this week which will help keep the production room warm for the workers, but most importantly, when the floor is poured. After construction is complete, this unit will help with any heat recovery when the big doors are opened. Mission Mechanical is who we are using for our HVAC and Tom Peterson has been great to work with! He coordinated with Joe and we were ready for his guys when they showed up. They had the unit installed in just a couple of hours and were on their way. I'm hoping the rest of the project goes this smoothly with them!
We also were able to get an LP tank installed from Fauskee Oil in Brooten to feed the heating unit. We have used Fauskee for our farm fuel needs for almost 10 years and have nothing but great things to say about Randy and his crew. This fall has been a doozy on farmers and it's been said that there is an LP shortage, causing limits on how much farmers can have delivered, as well as pricing increases. But because of the relationship we have made with them, Randy didn't even bat an eye when Joe called - he worked it out and made it happen. His team has been running 20 hour days with the crazy fall harvest, yet he still took care of us - and it didn't go unnoticed.
And this thing was dropped off this week.
What is it? This is what they call an oil waste interceptor. A thorn in my side is what I call it. During our state plumbing review we were told that we needed to put this tank in the ground to capture any oil or vehicle waste that may collect should our building ever turn into a car shop. Wait, what? What? A car shop? This will be a winery last time I checked. And if (big if) we ever sold the building and its purpose would change, wouldn't it be up to the next owner to ensure it met all of the necessary regulations at that time? These are all questions that were met with much debate, but because this is a commercial project, certain regulations apply. We bit the bullet, spent the money, and are now putting this tank in the ground to keep the project moving along so we can pass our inspections. Our worry is that waste (grape seeds, skins, etc) will collect in this tank and plug up, attract unwanted pests (fruit flies), and be more of a hindrance than a helper. But we are not the "experts" and are only try to use common sense - sometimes common sense gets vetoed by regulations. This tank here caused a 3 week delay for us that I'm still a little sour about. The fact that I have dedicated an entire paragraph to this thing makes me a little ill, but now you are in the know too. You're welcome!
And because I don't want to end my post this week with that, I'm going to leave you with this. Dennis Lundblad found this rock when he was working on our retaining wall. It's not every day you find a rock shaped like a heart - we'll leave it here so you can see it in person next summer. Maybe it will offer some luck to us as we continue with the project, and a photo opportunity for you on your next visit.
And just a quick reminder, our RFV apparel will only be available in the online store until next weekend. I'm being told sizes are selling out in certain styles, so if you plan on ordering any t-shirts or sweatshirts, there is only a few days left. We are so thankful to those of you who have already placed your orders! I'm hoping we are able to help a few more of you out. I know its a little early to think about Christmas, but these would be great Christmas gifts for anyone on your list! All of your purchases can be done right from our website, but if you have any questions, please reach out and I will do my best to answer any!
The building is really starting to take shape! This week the rafters were installed and our vision is finally coming to life. Shane and his crew placed the rafters in both parts of the building and are now working on securing the roof sheeting. We are pushing to get the building capped so we can get the floor poured in the production space because we need to start making wine very soon if we want it to be drinkable by summer time.
This week our electric service was hooked up and it appeared to go pretty smoothly. We hardly noticed they were here - at least I didn't :) Runestone Electric worked in conjunction with Mike from Lundebrek Electric to make it happen. Mike has been on the site quite a bit this week helping make the connection to the building and staging his supplies. I'm looking forward to seeing the lighting plans come to life. Joe and Mike have something pretty cool in store for us!
And Lundblads were back this week grading the east side of the building, removing dirt piles and rock, and smoothing things out. The weather has been nice and dry this week, although a bit chilly, which has made for some great days to get the dirt work caught up on. Finally, NO MUD! If it wasn't so cold we would have been able to get the grass seeded yet this fall, but it looks like that will have to wait until springtime. They also added another level to the retaining wall. The biggest question now is how should we dress it up? Or is it beautiful all on its own? The fact that every single rock came from our property is just so cool.
Joe has been busy this week trying to get the crop harvest wrapped up as well. We have about 50 acres of corn left and just a small field of beans. They have put some really, really long days in, and the boys are starting to miss their dad, as I'm sure he's missing us as well. The forecast looks favorable and we are all looking forward to the end of this crazy fall. We have also started chopping stalks and working ground, trying to beat the frost. We will get done what we can, but it's hard not to wish for the finish line to come!
And the grapes are hardening off really nice - we like to see that dark reddish/brown color! They will sleep now until around May when the sap will start to push and the buds will break open. For now, we will let them sleep and enjoy the break from the vines.
Happy Halloween Everybody! I took the boys trick-or-treating last night for a couple of hours and finished up the night with a pizza party in the field. They got way too much candy, but they had a really great time! This was the first year Oliver walked with his older brothers and he did a great job keeping up with them. We had a Minecraft Creeper, Harry Potter, and Gekko from PJ Masks.
And without further ado, the online store is officially open! We will keep the apparel items available in the store until November 16th. These items are all made to order so get shopping! The rest of the items will be available until the inventory is sold out. I really hope you are able to find things you love! And everything will be delivered locally or shipped by December 16th, so you should have them by the holidays!
One exciting thing I have added are tours that will be available starting late next summer. Maybe these unique experiences will help you check that really difficult person to buy for off your list! If anything isn't clear, feel free to send me a message and I will do my best to walk you through that process. Dates will be reserved via phone or e-mail, but the packages can be purchased right from the website.
"When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance." :)