When Kerri Waters decided to open a winery in Remus, she named it after the women in her family.
Her mother, LaNell, was one of three girls in the Gwin family growing up. Today there are 15 Gwin Girls including LaNell and her two sisters, along with their children and grandchildren.
Located off M-20 in Remus, Gwin Girls Winery opened to the public July 11, 2019. Since then, it has been attracting business through road signs, Facebook and community connections.
“Being from this area, I had a lot of really positive local support,” Waters says. “I did have to let people know that it wasn’t just a city girl coming in and opening a winery. I was a local that came back to open a business.”
She initially sought another location for the winery but ran into obstacles. However, she says, if the first spot had been approved, she wouldn’t have ended up on the property she has now with an old veterinary clinic serving as the primary space for the winery.
The property spans 20 acres. The first grapes planted there will be ready for harvest in three to four years. In the meantime, Waters is working with grapes from winemaker Michael Smith’s Barryton vineyard to start her own vintage and selling wine crafted off-site by Fenn Valley specifically for her winery.
Gwin Girls is also making ciders and other beverages on-site.
“I would say our forte is our sangrias,” which have been successful as takeout orders under pandemic conditions, Waters says. Blueberry citrus and peach lemonade are among the most popular flavors.
“I wanted a completely different feel and experience than other wineries in the area,” Waters says.
With that, Gwin Girls offers a changing food menu. Specialty sandwiches and shareables inspired by family members are routine, served alongside choices of six to 10 different wines, four to six hard ciders, several sangrias, iced tea and lemonade.
“People will come thinking they’re going to taste wine, buy it and leave, and they end up having a complete experience and a meal with their families,” Waters says.
And a global pandemic hasn’t stopped the fledgling winery from reaching supporters in new ways. While intending to be open from mid-April through October, Waters opened the winery’s doors on a selective basis during the offseason per customer request.
For the past four weekends, the winery has been open for takeout food and bottled wine and sangria sales.
And as the season gets ready to gear up, Waters is ready to welcome customers back as pandemic stay-at-home orders ease.
“My customers are phenomenal,” Waters says. “That’s probably the part that has surprised me the most — the fun we’re having connecting with the people that walk in the door.”