It all began with wine tasting (as most good things do), in Santa Barbara going from winery to winery on a motorcycle... This was during the schmoozing stage of our relationship... Our engagement on the beach in Santa Barbara is never to be forgotten, documented moment to moment by my sisters, Laura and Chelsea, with Laura Marie Photography
. This, of course, was all planned out unbeknownst to me...
We settled in La Quinta, California where Will was a golf course superintendent, and I, a salesperson at a retail plant nursery in Palm Desert. We called La Quinta home for 3 years together exploring the valley; rock climbing, trips to the ocean, camping, scenic motorcycle rides, and just being together with our four "kids"---Little Man, Baby (originally from MO), Buell and Honda. We had the opportunity to work at our favorite boutique style winery in San Diego County, Shadow Mountain Vineyards.
This is a one-of-a-kind of winery where it would be impossible to leave the tasting room without learning something, getting to know the owners, and loving the wines while your at it. Loving every minute of our hands on learning we were missing the Midwest soils, smells (freshly cut alfalfa, soil, rain), sunsets, and family --- we began to research our next adventure...
The growth of the Midwest wine industry, our love of wine and the exploration of vineyard and wineries, we were curious to see what the Midwest had to offer for vines and wines. We started our online classes with Des Moines Area Community College (aka DMACC), with our instructors Randal Voss (Viticulture) and Paul Gospodarczyk (Enology). We were able to learn how to work with our cold climate cultivars through this program as our new goal was now to start our venture in Iowa where we all know and love the below zero temps and short growing season. We were able to receive hands on experience by visiting vineyards in Iowa in different stages of growth, pruning, harvest standards, and working with the winery production equipment, as well as some great guidelines and advice on how to start a vineyard and how to start a winery.
Our business journey started in February of 2010 where we had the opportunity to purchase 16 acres of beautiful pasture land with all the right conditions for a vineyard and site of a winery... Calico Skies had experience an amazing Grand Opening on May 21st, 2011 where over 1200 guests entered the building, since then we have enjoyed every minute of getting to know our guests and introducing our wines and look forward to the adventures to come.
Herein lies the archived step by step happenings where Calico Skies Vineyard and Winery began from April 2010 to April 2011...
So much has happened during the month of March! Pine planking installation on the ceiling, paint, staining the trim and window boxes for the tasting room and events room, the stage has been built, and next week it is supposed to get into the 60's!
Half-way point! 3.15.11
I was so excited to see the Echo
truck pull into the winery! The first of the fixtures arrived, just as ordered and perfect! First to arrive was our outdoor lighting on quite a windy, but warm day...
Same day installation by Dan's Electric (out of Inwood)! All was installed but the main entrance fixtures...
Evening it Out.
The guys started on the other side of the ceiling... Looking awesome!!!
The Beginning of the Tile. 3.18.11
Will's mom and dad came into town to help out with some staining and tiling...
The Kimberley Boy's tiling in the kitchen.
Dad cutting the cement board to fit to get it ready for tiling!
After a great day of work... Honda (a near 40 pounder, half Lab-half Jack Russell) for some reason thinks he's a lap dog... He is precious though!
Another puzzle Complete! 3.21.11
All that staining definitely paid off! The ceiling looks amazing, and they did an amazing job of installing it... That same day, they started to wrap the center beam with cedar. We stained that basically the same color as the exterior.
Finishing up the Tile in the Kitchen...
We did one tile up in the caterer's kitchen... All that is left to do in there now is clean-up and a fun filled grouting experience!
On to the Woman's Restroom 3.22.11
After the painful experience screwing down the cement board in the kitchen, we went to Menards to find a time-saving device... Will in action, above...
The rest of March and half of April, to be continued...
Trying to keep up with all that is going on! We received our speaker system for the Sky Room (Events Room) via Hills Electronics
in Sioux Center, Iowa. We also received another load of pine planking from our friends at Menards
. Will the staining ever end?? Soon to be shipping wine! Our wine shippers are ready to go... Just need to get that wine bottled...
An icy, but beautiful walk in the vineyard...
Taping in the Tasting Room! 2.23.11
Above the Bar... 2.25.11
While picking out light fixtures from Echo Lighting
out of Sioux Center, we realized if we wanted pendents hanging above the bar we would need some sort of structure to hang them from other than our ceiling considering the ceiling to bar is a long way down... Randy Vande Stouwe, our contractor came up with some options for the structure and built a demo so we could get an idea of what it would look like. We didn't have to go any further than Inwood to find the great craftsman who built and welded our structure. A huge thanks to Cornie F.! We love how it turned out...
2.26.11 We will have 8 pendents hanging over the bar... Can't wait to get them up!
Electrical and plumbing coming along...
Music to My Ears! 2.26-27.11
Will installed the speakers in the events room. They sound, awesome! And, thanks to Will, they look awesome. ;o) They are made to be painted, so they just blend right in...
Walls for Our Rooms! 2.28.11
A day in the Sun! 3.2.11
Time for taping and texture! Will and Dan took advantage of the warm day by installing the exterior lighting on the production wall (East side). These will come in handy around harvest...
Starting to think about bar design! We are thinking Zebrawood as the counter top... And something a bit more colorful for the front of the bar...
Tasting Room Ceiling goes Up!!! 3.10.11
And looks awesome! It will be the perfect finish in the Tasting Room... All that staining was worth it... Just a few more left to do --- then on to the trim (cedar) and doors (pine)... I'm thinking that will be a piece of cake compared to the 5000 sq. ft. for the ceiling. ;o)
Tasting Room color options...
We have decided to go with a coppery color ("Spiced Gingerbread") on the wall behind the bar... "Chocolate Kiss" on the angled wall, and we stuck with "Soft Brie" for the rest of the walls.
The loft we went with a lighter version of the "painting technique" that Will did in the Events Room, more of a silver and white. "High Dive" in the restroom (we'll call it the "something blue" restroom), and "Sir-Moss-Alot"<---now if that name doesn't make you want to buy that color... ;o)
All primed and ready to go.
Designed by Laura Marie Photography and Design
out of Inwood, Iowa, and ordered from Brick Packaging... We love these! and can't wait to bottle!
Family Power! 3.11-12.11
to the rescue! The crew came to stain, paint, and refresh... We are now finished with the walls on the loft besides Will's finishing touch on the West wall with the "painting technique". Staining is nearly finished, with the boards that we have---may have to get a few more, however...
Until next time... Cheers!
The semi-decided upon color scheme for the events room... "Soft Brie" on three of the walls with one wall a painting technique, and "Champagne Bubbles" on the ceiling. Waiting for our chairs to arrive that we ordered for use at events! All of our chandeliers have arrived at the Echo Lighting showroom in Sioux Center, and we are extremely excited for them to be installed. We are about at that point where they can be installed in the events room!
Dry-wall installation has begun in the tasting room, which will eventually be covered up by pine planking. A relief that we don't have to paint this ceiling, however this means we are back to staining...
The guys installed our roll-up door to our cellar...
1.31.11-2.3.11 Texture and Paint in the Sky Room (Events Room)
2.4.11 A walk in the vineyard at sunset...
2.7.11-2.9.11 Pop Champagne!
We have completed our quota of staining our siding!!! We have been staining since October, so this is an accomplishment. Will's mom came from central Iowa to help us out, and we got a lot done! As we finished up our siding, we were ordering more boards to stain for our ceiling in the Tasting Room.
Will began paining the ceiling with our "Champagne Bubbles" color in the events room. It's all in the name ;o).
Probably one of the most painful jobs we have done...
2.10.11 More painting and... Staining...
Ceiling complete. Next were the walls, which were fun compared to the ceiling. ;o) Didn't take long at all, Will sprayed while I went behind him with a roller for a nice even finish.
While we finished up the painting, Will's mom started up our next staining project... 900 pine boards for the ceiling in the tasting room. This is turning out to be quite different from staining our siding, which was a one step process, compared to sanding, applying a wood conditioner (let dry), apply the stain color (let dry), apply a coat of polyurethane (let dry), sand and apply another coat... Currently finished with 200 boards, really looking forward to the next 700. ;o)
Will also started our East wall that we have chosen to do a painting technique to, called "moonlit weave". Also a multi-step process, he started by spraying on the base coat, with me rolling behind him... This will be the wall that we will have the electric-roll-down screen (certainly not the technical term), for the projector.
2.11.11 Step two.
After the base coat had dried, we applied a tinted "medium texture", with a "technique pad" in a 4'x4' area, then used a color washing brush to lightly drag the texture horizontally across the wall, then repeated that process until the wall was finished...
Back to painting...
Will finished that night.
2.15.11 Sky Room nearing completion...
Will unloading some of the tables.
We received our tables and chairs we will be using for events! We have 38 60" round tables, 6 rectangular 8' tables, and 300 chairs for events that will take place in the Sky Room. The round tables can fit 6-8 guests, the rectangular 10 guests. We have our first private event booked the first weekend in May, and we are super excited!
All that needs to be finished in the Sky Room is staining and installation of the woodwork, staining of the concrete, and installation of the chandeliers, of which have all arrived that the Echo Lighting showroom in Sioux Center!
Testing out the concrete stain.
Tried four different colors: weathered bronze, black, walnut, and petina, in the basement to figure out what we will want to use in the Sky Room, Tasting Room, and Barrel Room. We still need to decide on what sealant coat to use, so we are open to any suggestions!
2.17.11 Wrapping it up.
The guys finished with the siding on the North! Siding complete! They also finished with the beams on the South side of the tasting room...
Since the siding was finished, we could focus our attention to the pine planking for the tasting room. Using sheets of sand paper and sanding by hand, quickly progressed to electric palm sanders, making the process easier on the arm. We have learned it best to start the hardest way of doing things, then moving to a simplified way makes us much more appreciative of the whole process. ;o)
2.20.11 Baby it's still cold outside!
After a week of warm melting weather, we received rain, sleet, and now snow... Nearly an inch of ice has settled on the vineyard---while beautiful, we are hoping the wind doesn't come up and break off some of our vines!
Looking forward to warmer weather, sanding/staining, chandelier installation, and checking things off of our list of to-do's!
In the Making 1.21-22.11
We had a great time prepping for the Black Tie Bridal Showcase in Sioux Falls... We thought there would be nothing to fit as a backdrop for our booth other than our cedar siding.
And at the Show!
Warmth in the Tasting Room 1.24.11
The ceiling in the tasting room has been insulated, and the floor heat is on! We are getting warmer! The beam down the center of the tasting room will stay exposed, and the ceiling will be planked with wood. The chandelier on the left will be located on the beam front and center in the tasting room, with another chandelier of the same style but a bit smaller centered between the loft wall and the production...
We continue to stain remaining exterior siding in the production room, and we have begun to consider paint colors, textures, techniques, concrete floor stain colors, and wood trim stain colors, for the events room and have ordered the chairs for the events...
We usually end up making tri-weekly visits to Menards, and normally Will is asked if he works there... ;o)
Bottles arrived for our Marquette, Frontenac, Concord/Catawba, and Blueberry wine!
More Paint Possibilities, and Priming...
Will rigged the lift with florescent lights to see the ceiling better while he was painting... We have decided to go with a soft brie on 3 of the walls, and a painting technique/texture on one of the walls... Next in the events room, will be staining the concrete floor, putting up trim and floorboards, painting the trim around the windows, and putting up the light fixtures to finish it off.
Our Little Man...
Little Man at 4 months, when we first took him in...
We recently tragically lost a most precious part of our family, our first addition, Little Man. Little Man came to us the week we got back from our honeymoon nearly four years ago when we moved to the desert. He was a blessing to our lives, helped us through some tough times, and is severely missed...
To our Little Man, we love you!
This fine December afternoon called for course filtration of the La Crescent and Frontenac Gris wines to filter out any of the large particles. We also needed to test the sugars of our other ferments.
Testing the sugars...
This was our first filtration with our equipment. Most of the time spent in the winery consists of washing and sanitizing before a winery operation, and after... We ran water through the plate and frame filter and filter pads, then a sanitizing solution, then water again... Then, with the lines filled with water we were ready to begin filtering the wine...
Will contemplating his master plan.
To reduce contact of air to the wine, we filled the lines with water, attached the hose to the tank with the unfiltered wine and opened the valve, started the pump and diverted the water to the floor, until the wine ran it's course through the filter and into it's destination tank.
Frontenac Gris Filtration
La Crescent Filtration
And on to the La Crescent, we followed the same steps...
All in all, first filtration a success... But the night doesn't end there. Cleaning, and sanitizing...
And... Our attempt at getting home.
Didn't see that one coming... ;o) There is a road under there somewhere...
Thankful for my father.
12.12.10 Electrical Duo
12.13.10-12.14.10 Bottles Arrive, and Drilling Begins.
Geothermal Drilling Begins...
Fortunately it doesn't need to be above 40 degrees to drill... Hoping the drilling can be finished soon!
Siding progress on the production building. The guys are doing a brilliant job!
12.17.10 Event Windows Arrive! and are Installed!
12.18.10 - 12.19.10 Bottling La Crescent and Frontenac Gris 2010!
Photo Credits: My beautiful cousin, Avery.
Running water through the hoses and filter getting ready for another filtration and bottling.
Pumping water and sanitizing solution through the hoses, plate and frame filter, cartridge filter, and bottle filler.
We have a two stage plate and frame filter, so we can filter the wine through a course filter to a finer filter in one pass.
Our corker is awesome. Smooth and simple. Will and I would fight over who got to cork...
Frontenac Gris (12.19)
Back to Staining...
Building Progress Pics.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!
11.30.10 - Wall of Windows
Hydrating the Barrels
In preparation for the juice, Tom and Will put together all of the tank lids, cleaned and sanitized the winery. They also transfered the Chambourcin off of it's fine sediment and to another tank in preparation for barreling.
Donna, Will's mom, priming in the Barrel Room. Color appropriately named Wine Barrel ;o) This room will be outfitted with a long table, elegant lighting, and of course, barrels. Will be available to rent for small private dinners-anniversary, birthday, engagements etc...
Windows on the North side of Tasting Room installed!
12.2.10 - Busy Day
Due to the Mother's Day frost this past May, many grape producers had a reduction in yield --- causing many wineries to scramble to find grapes, including us... We were able to find harvests of small quantities of La Crescent, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, and Chamborcin back in September, which are all well underway to wine.
To make up for lack of quantity, we were able to order grape juice from a provider in New York. The grape juice cultivars that we ordered are some of the same we had planted in May. Here is the rundown of what we have fermenting now...
Common Wine Characterisitics
Brianna: pineapple nose and flavor, grapefruit, tropical, floral. Usually produced as a semi-sweet wine.
Traminette: similar to Gerwurztraminer; spicy and floral.
Concord: strong, grapey aromas ("foxy"), likely will blend with Catawba for a semi-sweet to sweet blend.
Catawba: another strong, grapey wine, blending with concord.
We also received blueberry and raspberry.
12.2.10 - On a cold fall day...
Waiting for Visitors!
Baby, Little Man, Honda, and Buell
12.4.10 - Inoculation and barreling down.
Rehydrating the yeast before inoculation.
Stouwies Construction installing the soffit.
12.7-8.10 - Siding!
Until next time!
Images courtesy of J. Zangger | Zangger Vintage Airpark | Larchwood, Iowa | 10.17.10
The Last Piece of the Puzzle Poured | 10.29.10
Last, but not least, the event center floor was poured... RC Concrete Construction, Inc. was back on the job. The event center is 49x72 and can hold approximately 200 to 250 seated guests. It is situated on the West, for magnificent views of our calico Midwest sunsets. (More information on holding wedding/receptions at Calico Skies.)
What began at 7:30 in the morning---didn't finish until 10:30 at night, thanks to our crisp fall temperatures. But the dedicated RC Concrete Crew stuck with it, not cutting any corners. Concrete. Complete. ... Until next year... Sidewalks, parking lot...
Framing the Events. | 11.1.10
Trusses | 11.2.10
Still staining... Listening to Election Day coverage....
Coming Together. | 11.3.10
Events area all framed up.
Working in the Walls. | 11.5.10
Dan's Electric on the job for rigging the winery for all of its electrical and lighting needs.
Tour de Calico Slideshow. | 11.8.10
Another Calico Sky.
As some may know... The memory of my computer, holding all of our pictures, has been erased (thanks apple). Thanks to the blog, we have most moments documented, except for our eventful trip to pick up 6000 lbs (3 tons) of Frontenac grapes in Decorah, IA, our delivery of Chambourcin grapes from Illinois, and the processing of both. We are going to send it in to see if anything can be recovered, but as for now, we must go on. ;o)
The building has been growing quite quickly this month. It is exciting to see the design all coming together in real life, vs. on drawings or a computer.
With an interesting site comes and interesting road. Able Boulevard (where the winery is), has never really had ditches. So, when it rained --- huge gullies would form on the sides of the road. Not the safest road to travel... The county came in and dug ditches, made the road wider, and raised it a bit. Ready for traffic.
We have accepted that the post pounding will never end... We finally began pounding posts on the Frontenac Gris vineyard located on the North end. The vines started hardening off right on schedule, from a tender green shoot-to a hardened cinnamon colored cane. Bring on the Frost!
The drywall, taping, and mudding was completed in the production area, and we were on duty to paint. Thankfully, Dad had a paint sprayer. That made the job a whole lot easier and quicker with 12 ft side walls and 16 ft in the center. It took 3 coats of paint-Will spraying and me rolling to make it even.
We are still waiting for some of the duct work to be completed for the cellar, lab, utility room, and barrel room. So, the whole process in those rooms has been put on hold...
Our 1/2 acre of Frontenac Gris has been deficient in care the past month... The vines grew, and without anything to hold on to, their growth covered the row middles, making it difficult to mow, so, it felt good to get started on the post pounding.
10.8.10 | Great night for a fire...
10.9.10 | More work in the Frontenac Gris Vineyard
10.10.10 | Delivery!
Bound to be a day of luck, our 5 ton glycol chiller and barrel racks arrive. The glycol chiller will circulate chilled glycol through the "jackets" that surround the tanks to allow us to perform cool fermentations (fruitier wines), cold stabilization, and other fermentation procedures...
10.12.10 | Tanks! Finally!
We had been waiting for our tanks for weeks... From one salesperson to the next, it was hard to get a straight story of when the tanks would be coming, and where they actually were during transport. By the time we received them, we were just happy to see they existed.
10.14.10 - Tanks in production with bubble wrap.
10.13.10 | Building Progress.
10.16.10 | Tastes of Autumn Event | Women's Club of Larchwood
We had a great time in Larchwood at this event! Click HERE to see story and photos.
10.19.10 | Prepping for Concrete.
RC Concrete Construction back to begin the prep work for the event area on the West side of the building. Once this is poured, it can be framed and we will be one step closer to being ready for the snow to fly...
10.21.10 | Setting it Up.
Will working on the tanks... Here he is working on the lid of the variable capacity tanks. These are made so that the lid can be adjusted to the level of the wine, then the gasket around the lid is pumped with air to make it air tight and there is less room for oxygen to touch the wine reducing the risk of oxidation.
10.22.10 | Staining the Siding. | Outside.
This might take a while...
10.23.10 | Staining the Siding. | Semi-indoors as the temps. decrease and rain is in the forecast.
10.26.10 | BURR!
The vineyard is looking quite a bit thinner these days after our severe winds and inevitable freezing temps. The vines were ready for it, however, and the shoots had hardened off.
10.27.10 | Staining the Siding. | Inside a semi-insulated building as the snow falls and wind blows.
Snow falls when your having fun... Time to get that concrete poured!
We have been busy! In a good way. From growing vines, to delicious wines, and a building to make it all come together, things are going well.
Putting up the first walls of production! This is facing the South.
Up with the trusses on the production building! This is the cellar/storage portion they are working on in this picture.
The wall between the tasting room and production.
Labor Day Weekend
What better way to celebrate Labor Day Weekend, than to labor??? Our friends from Chicago took a break from the windy city to step onto the Iowa soil and get dirty. We accomplished much in the vineyard; finishing the end posts, and tying up the vines.
Honda and Penny Lane basking in the sun.
Punching down the cap of the Frontenac!
As the CO2 is released from fermentation, solids float to the top, forming a "cap". Will is "punching down" the cap to mix the skins back in to the must for extraction of color and flavor.
A toast to all that was accomplished!
Our Flexible Impeller Pump! Variable speed, can be used to gently transfer wine and must, (grape skins, and juice or wine). This is what is going to make our lives livable. And, thus far, it has worked amazingly.
Punching down again. 9.7.10
View from Highway 18 heading West.
Dad in the vines at sunset.
Frontenac and Marquette pressed. 9.8.10
As we gradually moved from processing in the back of the refer trailer to our concrete processing pad, things got better and better... This was the first time we were able to use our pump, which we call the "Viking King". This was a small batch, 50 gals, we picked up much more Frontenac in the weeks following...
Punching down the Marqutte before we press.
Raindrops are falling on my head... As we began our prep work for pressing the Marquette, it began to rain... We did get a tent up to protect everything while we were processing, but our documentation stops here.
Will working on his fermentation plan.
We had left our crushed and pressed white juices in stainless steel tanks to cold settle in the refer trailer... It was time to inoculate with yeast, so we moved the Viking King (our pump), back to the other end of the plywood path.
Testing the Brix (percent sugar) of the Frontenac Gris juice. At 22 Brix it should ferment out to 11% alcohol after fermented to dryness.
The water was warmed and yeast added for it to be rehydrated. Will gradually added juice (incremental juice additions) to the yeast to not sugar shock to yeast, and to not cool the yeast down too much before adding it all into the tank.
We went through the same process for the La Crescent. Racking the juice off of it's sediment into a new tank, then testing the brix, gradually adding the juice to the yeast, and adding it all to the tank.
Men at Work.
Stouwies Construction Crew putting it all together.
We went with the "Burnt Sienna" shingles shown in the picture on the right.
Stains we are considering for the cedar siding. "Honey Gold" for the trim, and "Cedar Naturaltone" for the siding.
Discussing some minor changes to the design...
Wendall with the solution. We now have an angled corner wall to expand the vista in the tasting room. So happy we decided to make that change, and that is was able to be done!
Frontenac vines all tied up and ready for fall!
More of September to come, had to send the computer that has all of the pictures on it in to get it fixed...