We’ve been blessed again this weekend with beautiful weather and signs that spring might FINALLY be on its way! We’ve been moving pretty slow outside the last few weeks due to the cold, and were anxious to get back into the barn and keep moving. The roofers have been busy this week and we’ve been told we might actually see the steel go on very soon. Here is what it looked like as of yesterday – we’ll take more pictures as they continue work this week and keep you posted!
Last Saturday we drove to Cedar Rapids to attend the Iowa Wine Grower’s Association’s Annual Conference. The Iowa Wine Growers Association supports the Iowa Wine Industry through education, promotion, and legislative support. Their annual conference provides members the opportunity to attend great presentations given by experts from around the world. As new comers to the industry and to the association, we weren’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a great day full of educational opportunities and excited discussion about how we can apply our new knowledge to our own winery plans. Meeting new people in the industry and listening to all the great advice they were so willing to share with us was also amazing – it truly feels like big family and we had a blast getting to know everyone. We’re already looking forward to next year.
After attending the confe rence and doing a bit more research when we got home, we’re getting ready to order our grape vines for planting this spring. We’ll plant 150 plants in approximately ½ acre near the barn so we can have easy access to water and equipment and be able to keep a close eye on them as they mature. We’ve selected a wide range of cultivars – both whites and reds – and though it will take some serious time and hard work before we’ll be harvesting from these vines, we’re looking forward to it!
Another milestone for us since attending the conference was launching our Kickstarter Campaign. Kickstarter is a company, founded in 2009, that allows creative spirits [that’s us] to share our ideas and goals on their website to seek out and earn financial support. Since their launch, 8.1 million people have pledged over $1.6 Billion to successfully fund nearly 80,000 projects like ours – that’s impressive!
So now here’s the part where we ask you to please check out our page - here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/376508458/backcountry-winery?ref=email
We’re offering some great rewards so please check them out and back our project if you like what you see! We have 23 days remaining and we’ve reached 10% of our goal. We truly can’t do it without you and we can’t wait to share our winery with all of our supporters!
Wow, what a week! It’s been one of those ‘super-exhausting, yet thought provoking, feels-like-I’m-working-so-hard-right-now-and-yet-i-have-little-to-show-for-it-weeks. You know what I’m saying?
But there were a few accomplishments to share. We reached 100 likes on our Facebook page this week! Thanks everybody for showing your support – you mean the world to us! We posted our new logo to Facebook and our website to celebrate, and this alone was a huge accomplishment for me. Spending weeks, no really months, looking at this one thing, tweaking and molding it to truly speak what we’re all about (in style, more so than even just text) is in itself exhausting (and also why I love being a designer). We’re going for a laid-back, shabby-chic, cozy sort of message, and I really feel like we’ve nailed it!
We also purchased our first chandelier for the hay loft space that will become our reception venue. Every time Preston has asked me what I had in mind for these fixtures, I could never quite put my finger on what it was I was looking for, but I knew it had to be special and it had to have a story. While searching online over the weekend, I finally found that perfect piece that you could just tell by the photos that it had a story, and I knew I had to find out more. We drove all the way to Johnston to pick up this beauty from a woman who shared with us that this fixture had come from her parents’ home and that their family had shared many great memories under this special light. We shared with her our story and plans for the fixture – and we’re very excited that it will light many more special memories for years to come! So with each and every piece we collect, we bring their stories with us to create our own. It really is exciting to see our dreams form into physical reality.
So…now that the logo is posted, next on my list of things is to get our business cards ordered. I’m really hoping this is a quick process. Because after that my goal is to get our bottle labels finalized and approved, which based on previous experiences, won’t be such a quick process.
Looking ahead to the weekend, here’s what I’d LOVE to accomplish:
· Finish cleaning out the barn so we’re prepared to start install the hay loft floor as soon as the roof is on.
· Further research what grape varieties we’d like to start growing so we can start wrapping up preparations for spring planting.
· Continue shopping for lighting and furniture accent pieces (this really is just for fun – it helps me to stay motivated!)
· Aaaaand….Finalize the floor plan so you all can begin to see what we’re planning for the space!
The weather has again brought us back inside and given me time to write an update. The last few weeks have been filled with busy work schedules, time in the barn when we can find a few daylight hours, and many great, yet still stressful planning conversations. We’ve been blessed with warm weather that has given us spring fever and has really lit a fire under our planning process.
It took three weekends of hard work, but we’ve finally completed the removal of the hayloft floor. Preston worked upstairs to remove the rotten wood as I hauled load after load of the rotten piles of wood and old hay to the burn pile. We celebrated this accomplishment with a bonfire and a day of relaxation to gather our thoughts on where to go next. Preston has started removal of some of the concrete floor to prep for new concrete as soon as the roof is completed.
After talking with several contractors, we finally found someone willing (crazy enough) to help us with the new roof. We decided to go with steel because of the ease of installation and 50 year warranty. We chose a ‘bronze’ color with white trim that I think will nicely complement the brick. We’re now just waiting for our materials to come in and for the weather to cooperate to begin work.
Next steps are to finalize our floorplan, start planning electrical and water systems, and find someone to help us with the concrete floor. Last weekend we had a chance to start marking out the floorplan in the barn – walls, furniture, restrooms, and storage. It’s becoming more and more real every day. I think as soon as roof and floor are in, we can begin looking more closely at a schedule and completion date, but a lot of our planning right now is riding on the weather. I have to keep reminding myself it’s only February.
Soon the real fun in planning (for me) can begin. We have already started shopping for light fixtures, bar and bar stool materials, paint colors, and décor. Yesterday I began my hunt for the three antique chandeliers for our hayloft space, and instead came home with coat hangers and a wall art piece. Necessary? No. But it’s the little things that help to feed the dream.
We're absolutely blessed beyond measure to wake up every morning to the sun shimmering on the face of that old brick barn, knowing that hopefully in the near future it can be home to so much more than the piles of old straw and a couple farm cats (but don't worry - if you know me, the cats will be moving into a better home!). We couldn't have been where we are today without the help of family and friends - thanks guys! But I suppose THIS is the beginning. We're moving forward with plans for new roof, floor, and walls within that old brick barn to bring in new life and what will hopefully be the fulfillment of an exciting dream - but for sure an adventure either way! Stay tuned for more...
Preston and Amber both grew up on farms in Northwest Iowa. They share a passion for the outdoors and enjoy taking on new projects to see what adventures will be discovered. As high school sweethearts, they attended Iowa State University together, and now are continuing to pursue their dreams at Backcountry Winery.