by Steve Peterson
Prior to the wine tasting, owner of Calico Skies Vineyard owner Will Kimberley explained how the five acres near Inwood came to be a vineyard at an event sponsored by the Hawarden 125th Celebration Committee.
The Calico Skies Vineyard and Wine had a grand opening was on May 21, 2011, with a couple of weddings held there earlier.
“Ashlee and I met as students majoring in horticulture at Iowa State University,” said Kimberley. “We both went to work at a small vineyard in Santa Barbara, Calif., and did our research on the vineyard business. In 2009 we contacted a farmer who had five acres to sell. The first parcel was on a hillside but that would not be good for a vineyard but the second site he suggested was. In March, 2010, we started construction of the fence area and we planted 2,600 plants with the help of family and friends,” said Kimberley. “In June we started to break ground for the building and by August we had the A-frame up.”
Kimberley told the audience at Hawarden Community Center there are 400 vineyards in Iowa and 104 wineries.
“Finding good grapes was the hard part,” he said.
The site at 2368 Able Blvd. of Inwood has production, tasting and event areas. Kimberley pointed out that some 200 plants had to be replanted and were done so in six weeks.
Over the past five years Will and Ashlee’s passion for grape growing-viticulture and enology, the science of wine making, has kept growing, from a continuing education class at Des Moines Area Community College to volunteering at a boutique winery in California.
“Our goal is to provide a high quality and unique experience while highlighting our Iowa wines. We invite each guest to connect with our living adventure by following the grapes from vine to wine. Each cold-hardy grape variety is hand-crafted to feature the grape’s natural fruit character, ranging from fresh fruity whites to dry oak aged reds. We are committed to showcasing a unique and beautiful place to hold events and celebrations. Above all, we aim to serve our customers with care and the best product and experience available.”
Upcoming events include New Years Eve Celebration on Dec. 31; a Murder Mystery Dinner on Jan. 25; and The Perfect Pair event on Feb. 9.
For more information, call Will and Ashlee Kimberley at 712-753-2110.
Holiday hours at their wine tasting room are from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; and 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.