Van Wijk Winery strives to create a fun venue in Sully
|Rebecca and Roger Van Wyk held an open house for the new home of their Van Wijk Winery on Saturday. The couple is renovating the former Sully Community Church for use as not only a winery but a venue for parties, weddings and wine tastings. (John Jennings/Daily News)|
For Roger and Rebecca Van Wyk, owners of Van Wijk Winery, having fun with their new project is the most important thing. Although the couple, along with their two sons Adam and Jon, have been bottling several varieties of wine for some time now, they are renovating a former church in Sully, with plans for much more at the site than just wine.
Currently located in Des Moines, the Van Wyks found the Sully location almost by accident. Rebecca Van Wyk made a business trip to the Napa Valley in California wine country in the mid-1990s, and got inspired to create a winery five years later. They purchased the juice and made their own recipes, meticulously keeping notes, keeping the varieties they liked and discarding the ones that didn’t work. Starting with nine varieties, Van Wijk Winery now has 18 varieties of dry and sweet wines available in stores within a 60 mile radius of Des Moines.
About 18 months ago, Roger Van Wyk and Sully Mayor Gordon Yarrington were at an event with Vermeer together, and during an ice-breaker, Roger mentioned that he was looking for a building to house his winery.
“Gordon said ‘Have I got a building for you,’” Roger said. The city had the former Sully Community Church for sale, since the church congregation had built a new one about five years ago. The Van Wyks bought the building in November, 2010 for $1.
Roger said he wanted to be absolutely sure that the building was structurally sound, and a trip to the church’s basement confirmed that.
“The foundation is poured concrete, unusual for a building from 1930,” Roger said.
The basement will house the bottling and aging process, with a row of large windows for viewing by visitors, as well as an area for dining by special guests.
Initially, the winery began production of 5,000 cases, but anticipate an annual output of 10,000 to 15,000 cases. The winery currently buys grapes or juice from other wineries, creating their own varietal blends.
The Van Wyks are now in the process of creating a number of other uses for the winery as well. Plans include a tasting room, of course, but the main area will house a large theater area, with a giant projector and screen for showing movies. The former bell tower is being renovated as a bedroom area for overnight guests.
The exterior will feature an extensive patio area, complete with an outdoor kitchen, fire pit and gazebo, suitable for parties, weddings or other gatherings. Rebecca said they were proceeding slowly with the project, because she wanted it to remain an enjoyable process.
“We’re having a ball with this project,” she said.
Eventually, the couple hope to have the winery on the Heart of Iowa Wine Trails list, for tour groups. and are currently members of the Iowa Wine Growers Association. They plan to showcase their wine at Swinefest in June at DMACC in Ankeny, and the Downtown Des Moines Winefest at Jasper Winery, as well as Nollen Plaza downtown Des Moines on June 8 and 9.
For more information on Van Wijk Winery, visit their website, www.vanwijkwinery.com.
John Jennings can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 425 or via email at email@example.com.
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