FENNVILLE — A new winery and tasting room near Fennville held its virtual grand opening on Friday, May 22.
After four years of working toward the launch of Michigan Wine Co., Joe and Erica Krajkiewcz — the owners and winemakers — didn't want to wait any longer to open their business and start selling their handcrafted wines made with Michigan grapes, some of which are grown right outside the tasting room on their Fennville property.
"I'd equate it with running a marathon and seeing the finish line slowly moving away from you," Joe Krajkiewcz said of the decision to open virtually despite the COVID-19 pandemic. "Knowing that (an in-person opening) wasn't going to happen, we tried to come up with something that was a little bit different. We thought, 'How do we communicate this and try to celebrate some kind of milestone?'"
The virtual opening included a ribbon cutting and tour of the tasting room and winery — housed under one roof — and the vineyards, broadcasted live on Facebook and Instagram.
Michigan Wine Co. is selling its first vintage of 10 wines and 3 hard ciders via curbside pickup and delivery. The company partnered with VinoShipper to offer out-of-state delivery, something Krajkiewcz said was never in the plan but was necessitated by the environment they chose to open in.
"I didn't have any plan to do any shipping or distribution at all," Krajkiewcz said. "The entire plan was we were going to sell direct to customers through our tasting room. But as this all started to unfold in March I went ahead and applied for a shipping license."
All of Michigan Wine Co.'s wines and ciders are made with Michigan fruit, Krajkiewcz said. The Krajkiewczs grow several acres of Riesling, Cayuga White and Traminette grapes on their eight acres of land in Fennville. Their vineyards are located in the Fennville American Viticultural Area.
They also grow grapes and apples on family land in Freesoil, Michigan, Krajkiewcz's hometown, and they buy from other local vineyards in Fennville and other parts of the state.
That was something Krajkiewcz wanted to highlight in the name: Michigan Wine Co.
"We wanted to represent that all of our wine and cider is made with all Michigan ingredients. It's all grown in Michigan," Krajkiewcz said.
With only 3.5 acres planted, there's room on their lakeshore property to grow. When it's safe, they'll have tasting tours both inside and out in the vineyards.
The tasting room will open to visitors when state orders allow. The winery is visible from the tasting room through a glass window so visitors will be able to see how the wine is made, an idea Krajkiewcz took from its success in Michigan breweries.
Although Michigan Wine Co. is near a number of larger Fennville-area wineries and cideries, they're a small operation and want to maintain a personal feel.
"We wanted to be a place where you could come in and meet the winemaker. We didn't want it to feel corporate or assembly line,“ Krajkiewcz said.
The Krajkiewczs made, bottled and labeled their entire first vintage themselves.
"We recognize that everyone's taken a bit of a gamble buying one of our bottles because they haven't been able to taste them," Krajkiewcz said. "But we're really happy with our wine and we hope they are too."
Michigan Wine Co.’s hours, once the tasting room is able to open to the public, will be noon-6 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Michigan Wine Co. is located at 6781 124th Ave., Fennville.
— Contact reporter Carolyn Muyskens at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens.