Mike and Joann hosted us at Nearwood Winery and Vineyards as part of a working retreat. Regardless, of this affiliation, opinions are 100% our own.
Nearwood Winery and Vineyards
Who knew how much there was to do, to turn the humble grape into a bottle of fine wine…I certainly didn’t. But, I recently had the chance to meet with Mike Van Natta and Joann Schissel, of Nearwood Winery and Vineyard, to learn all about the wine making process. Mike and Joann recently hosted me, and 2 fellow bloggers, at their facility in Knoxville, Iowa. Mike is the actually Wine Maker, and Joann fills the role of Customer Experience Manager. Their passion has taken them to more than 30 wineries and vineyards in both the US and France.
Viticulture: There are so many factors that affect the outcome of the finished product…climate, soil, weather, and, of course, the actual types of grapes that are used. Then the wine maker must adjust for the type of vessel that the wine is stored in, the amount of sugar in the grapes, and so much more than I could ever begin to explain. Suffice to say that it’s a delicate balance and the slightest mishap can mean the difference between a great bottle of wine and a bottle of vinegar. But don’t let that scare you because Nearwood Winery has perfected wine making and all of the wines I tasted were delicious.
Here is a video where Mike and Joann explaining some of the process with us. You can tell that they both have a love for wine, wine making, and of course sharing their knowledge as they perfect a French Style Wine.
About the Wine
Nearwood Winery produces about 2 thousand cases of wine per year from their acre of grapes. Some bottles are from just their harvest, and other are a mix of their grapes and grapes from Iowa and Missouri. All are hand picked, crushed, squeezed, bottled, and corked, and they offer the following for local purchase:
- Storybook ’17
- Chateau Nouveau ’17 (I bought this one, because it was one of the ones we tasted while visiting. It’s made from a blend of Norton and Chambourcin grapes grown in the Nearwood Vineyard. This dry red wine is light-bodied in the Beaujolais style.
- Edelweiss Conger ’15
- Raceway Red ’17 (I purchased this one too!) This semi-sweet red wine is made from a blend of Norton and a touch of Concord grapes for a spicy note.
- Castle Grigio ’17
- Speedway Sweet ‘17 (Happens to be one of the bottles I purchased.) It is one of their best sellers and it is a sweet white wine that is hard-charging and bold. It is made with Iowa-grown Edelweiss grapes.
- Redhead ’15
- Storybook Sweet ‘14
- Raceway Red Sweet ’13
When it’s time to harvest they serve food for their helpers and have a stomping good time! I’m in hopes to be able to go and visit during harvest time, I’m sure I would make the perfect Lucille Ball grape stomping look alike!
Nearwood Winery is Located in Knoxville
The winery and vineyards are located in the town of Knoxville, in Marion County, Iowa. The rolling hills and green vines, make for a lovely backdrop for a Spring stroll or Summer outdoor gathering. The view from the winery is spectacular, and the sunsets can be breathtaking. I follow them on their social media channels just so I can see all of the amazing views, without making the trip every day give them a follow on the following social channels:
Wine Tastings are Encouraged
Wines are sold by the bottle, but you can drop by and give them a try for $5 for 5oz. Tastings are encouraged, and are all delicious, I promise. Nearwood holds community events several times per month and they keep their calendar of events up to date. If you need a place to hold a meeting or event, have a work day, or even try some wine, Nearwood Winery is the place to go. Just remember once you open a bottle wine, it needs to be enjoyed within 2 weeks for ultimate enjoyment.
They even are Harvest Hosts which Libby tells you all about and they will be hosting weddings in the near future. This is their first full season of being in business, and I know they will be around for years to come. But I know it’s a road trip, I will need to make a couple times a year, because their wine is amazing!
Love Wine? Check out our Essential Guide to Serve Wine Like a Pro!