1. Because we use American Midwest grapes
Grapevines can thrive or die, depending on climate, soil, and other factors. Regions such as the west coast of America use vitis vinifera, which is a wine grape rootstock from Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia. Temperate areas such as Oregon and California use vinifera stock to make popular wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. However, those same grapes would shrivel and die in our freezing winters. Here in the Midwest, a different type of American grape has evolved to survive our climate. Concord, Brianna, Seyval Blanc, LeCrescent, and others are cold-hardy and can often survive subzero temperatures and mature within our shorter growing season.
2. Because we do everything by our own hands
At Nearwood Winery and Vineyards, we make approximately 1,800 gallons a year (8,200 bottles) in contrast to millions of gallons from corporate wineries. These multi-million dollar wineries use automation techniques and utilize dozens of employees with specific roles and/or multiple family members involved in running the business.
Nearwood Winery and Vineyards is considered a boutique winery because of the small-scale and hand-crafted techniques. Most days of the week, depending on the season, you’ll find Mike and Joann sharing work on any combination of vineyard care, pruning, harvesting, winery/equipment sanitation, filtering, bottling, labeling, and serving wine. Did I mention writing blog posts?
3. Because we make our wine differently
Sure, we make our wine using similar principles of fermentation and aging just like the big guys, but on a much smaller scale. Each batch of wine developed is unique in taste, aroma, and winemaker preference. Contrary to the stereotype of Iowa wines, not all are sweet or taste like grape juice. Many of our wines have complex characteristics and range from dry to sweet. Every single batch of wine goes through our personal quality assurance before it is released. There have been a few heart-breaking instances when we’ve discarded cases of product because it did not meet our standards.
4. Because our customers are open to new tastes and experiences
We have nothing against our corporate winery friends in the well-known winemaking areas around the nation. In fact, we enjoy a good Oregon Pinot Noir or California Cabernet occasionally ourselves. But if you want to experience something different, handcrafted, and surprising right here in rural Iowa, come visit us.
Joann Schissel, Wine, art and story lover
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