Joe Krajkiewcz and his wife, Erica, were in the process of preparing for the grand opening of their Michigan Wine Company winery in Fennville when the world changed drastically and COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were put in place.
When their original expectations of a May in-person opening could no longer be a reality, John and Erica looked for other ways to launch their new winery. As they continue to work on production and vineyard operations, the Krajkiewczes have taken steps to make their products available to customers and supporters across Michigan and 38 other states via VinoShipper. Orders can be placed at their website, which lists their first vintage of wines and hard ciders. They’re also planning a virtual grand opening.
The winery originated out of a wine-tasting hobby driven by Erica to gradually become a passion.
“Planting some grapes turned into ‘a couple hundred’s not enough, so let’s plant a couple thousand,’” Joe says.
They began planting their first grapes in 2017, and started construction of the tasting room in 2018. Along the way, the biggest challenge has been “knowing where to look for help and how to ask for it,” Joe says. “We’re doing pretty much all of this that we can ourselves. We’re the owners and the winemakers and the farmers.”
Joe describes winemaking as the “merging of farming and artistry.” And they’ve learned a lot about the industry while finding their own place in it.
“The most rewarding part has been being able to share this with my wife,” Joe says, adding that they take immense pride in the strides they’ve made.
However, the pandemic presented a new set of problems for business owners like the Krajkiewczes. Without being able to physically open, he says, “no one’s ever tasted our wine or been to our property.”
Instead, the couple have turned to friends and supporters they’ve found via social media. Now Michigan Wine Company is planning a live virtual opening on May 22 at 6 p.m. via their Facebook and Instagram profiles.
And while they are disappointed at not being able to open the tasting room just yet, Joe and Erica are excited to experience a similar process with their supporters through the live streams.
“If they’d like to order some wine now, they can share a glass with us,” Joe says. “We’ll talk wine, and we’ll talk vineyards.”
Meanwhile, both continue to work their day jobs as they hope for a near-future time when they can host visitors at the winery in person. Says Erica, “We’re just excited to share with people when they can finally stop by.”