KINDERHOOK TOWNSHIP — Leisure Lakes Winery is not dying on the vine, but COVID-19 slowed plans for the operation at 988 South Angola Road, Dennis Fenstermaker said as he trimmed the grape vines he planted last year.
The 11 acres with a steel building sits across the road from Silver Lake.
The Ohio resident hoped to harvest his first crop this year, but the pandemic slowed plans along with the high cost of building materials.
“I'm trying to think why I did this. It’s way more work than I thought it was going to be but anything worthwhile is I guess,” Fenstermaker said in the hot Saturday sun.
When Kinderhook Township approved the rezoning in 2020, the goal was to open in summer 2021, “The initial phase of our plans was not to have a vineyard,” he said. “Michigan allows you to buy grape juice from other locations and turn it into wine.”
He has had experience making wine at home as a hobby.
But opening the winery was delayed as Michigan restrictions from COVID-19 limited business openings and group sizes early on in the pandemic.
Before he could turn the metal building on the property into a winery, prices on building materials also skyrocketed.
Last year Fenstermaker planted a quarter acre of white grapes. The variety is “Breanna. It’s fairly new, developed in the 70s in Minnesota,” Fenstermaker said.
But grapes need about an inch of water a week, a problem this dry spring.
The process takes three years to produce the first crop, so there should be grapes on his vines next fall.
“Breanna can do as much as eight tons an acre in good years. That’s what I’ve been told," he said.
Fenstermaker is not sure he will see 4,000 pounds of grapes next year or what he will do with them.
Prior story COVID-19 puts Kinderhook winery on hold
“I don’t even know if we’ll be crushing grapes here,” Fenstermaker said. If he builds the retail winery for people, he does not have enough septic capacity.
Fenstermaker planned to be operational by now. But how his plans will play out are yet to be known.
---Contact Don Reid: dReid@Gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DReidTDR
This article originally appeared on Coldwater Daily Reporter: Kinderhook winery project delayed