I was at a crossroads. This was the time to weigh the options and make a decision. Should I quit my job and put 100% of my time into the boutique wine business? I had previously experienced life as an entrepreneur working in the graphic design field and knew it is not an easy path. Work can be almost 24/7 and there is no guarantee of a paycheck but the opportunity to fully use my skills to build a business has always intrigued me.
I valued my employment at our local chamber of commerce working in marketing and membership. It was a steady paycheck and I enjoyed getting acquainted with the local residents and business owners. I liked the idea of helping my small town prosper. Taking the job was one reason I moved to this new community in rural Iowa from the capital city. The other, more overarching reason, was for love.
Mike lived in Knoxville when we started dating in late 2015 and had started the wine business as a pastime because of his passion for producing a product that people would enjoy. He saw it as a creative, social and active endeavor, and gifted that vision to me. But he was juggling tasks of the business solo, along with his full time job in medicine.
In March this year Mike and I were married and I left my job at the chamber of commerce to spend 100% of my time with winery and vineyard operations. I’m relishing my current role working alongside my husband, spreading the word about our family business, meeting new people, and being a part of helping my small town prosper.
I hope if you have the opportunity to visit the Tasting Room in Knoxville, IA or Nearwood Winery on location somewhere, please try our wine. It may not change your life, but it may just add a bit of enjoyment to it.
Joann & Mike
Who’s ready for spring and warmer weather? It’s time to think about a day trip somewhere fun. If you like food and wine, discover these trails.
A to Z Foodie Trail (South Central Iowa)
Want to do a trail with wine AND food? Then the A to Z Foodie Trail is for you! The trail features restaurants, bakeries, breweries and wineries in south Central Iowa in Marion and Mahaska counties. The food trail is a collaborative effort between Travel Iowa, Red Rock Area, Oskaloosa Chamber & Development Group, and the Pella Convention & Visitors Bureau. Pocket-sized maps of the trail are free and can be picked up at any of the featured locations, including Nearwood Winery. The trail is more than just a list of places to go. Each featured retailer is assigned a letter of the alphabet. As you follow the trail around the designated locations, you can find that letter at its unique shop, snap a selfie and post on your favorite social media with the hashtag #AtoZFoodTrail. Nearwood Winery is letter “F” for Frontenac Gris, a grape we use to make wine. Try all the vendors on the trail from A to Z!
Iowa Wine & Beer – Enjoy the Pour
The Back Roads Wine Trail has been officially recognized by the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board, an arm of the Iowa tourism office and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The trail was the brainchild of Mike Van Natta of Nearwood Winery and is the first time the its been published in the newly released publication, Enjoy Every Pour, which promotes Iowa wine and beer tourism. Nearwood Winery is one of four wineries on the trail along Highway 92 in Central Iowa, just south of Des Moines. Follow the trail for an easy day trip from the Des Moines metro area. There is also a free app for both iOS and Android devices with photos, maps, and a search function.
I’m excited about a special event Mike and I will be attending in January. Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank fame is coming to Des Moines and I got tickets as a Christmas present to see her. I love her common sense approach to business and quick wit. I’ve included some top quotes from Twitter.
Business is the most creative sport in the world. If you can dream it, you can actually make it happen.
Last year was all about dreaming for our small winery. After nearly 2 years of planning, we broke ground for our new and improved winery and residence.
Good leaders are not born, they are people who try hard to be exceptional!
I feel incredibly blessed to have learned so much from Mike and his leadership style. He strives to bring our customers the very best wine possible and positively impacts almost everyone he meets.
Be careful! You can catch a great attitude from optimistic people.
The wine industry is always challenging and a good attitude is really important. Last harvest we had birds eat a section of our crop that we had tended to for months and it was gone overnight. Now we know what to do next year. Optimism is a must!
If you’re working for the love of money, you won’t ever get any.
It may be true our business passion will never make us a lot of money, but the satisfaction it brings creates its own value. Loving what you do is the #1 consideration.
People most resistant to fun need it the most!
I hope you find time this new year to visit us in the Tasting Room in downtown Knoxville, IA, for one of our Wine & Art gatherings, art exhibits by local artists, First Friday music events, or writer’s workshop–and of course, to enjoy our wine! Have some fun and expand your experiences.
May you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Joann Schissel, Wine, art and story lover