Family-owned winery ‘good size for us’

A place where arts, science work together

-Messenger photos by Dawn Bliss Mary Haverkamp poses in the winery of her Kossuth County farm, where vinifies 13 different types of wine using grapes from her vineyard and from neighboring grape growers.

ALGONA — There’s more to a winery than grapes.

“You have to be multifaceted,” said Mary Haverkamp, a Kossuth County vineyard and winery owner. “There’s the grapes in the vineyard and there’s making the wines, but there is also hosting events and getting your product out to your customers.”

Haverkamp established Plum Creek Winery on her family farm just seven miles northeast of Algona in 2012.

Operating in its fifth year, the winery includes a two-acre vineyard along with a building that includes a tasting room, rentable event room, storage and production rooms where the wines are made.

She produces 13 wine varieties, using the grapes she grows, as well as fruit and juices grown around the region.

“We’re truly a family-owned winery,” Haver­kamp said. “I don’t think we would even want it to become a big winery. This is just a nice size for us.”

They currently make 60-gallon batches, she said, with her son, Tom Haverkamp, acting as the winemaker and overseeing the process.

A student at Iowa State University, he is studying chemical engineering.

“He’s more science-minded and I’m more artistically minded,” she said. “It works pretty well for us.”

Haverkamp is an art teacher and when small school consolidations prompted her to consider the future of how to continue in that field, she developed the winery option.

“I was looking for something that lent itself to a creative career choice,” she said. “I thought, if I wanted to reinvent myself, what would I want to do?”

Establishing and operating a small, family winery seemed ideal, Haverkamp said. It provided a lot of personal control and individual choices, from the design of the production building to formulating the wines themselves. She even creates the labels for the wines.

The winery derived its name from the township where it is located, and Haverkamp said she names the wines and designs the labels as a nod to the history of the township.

For instance, Elevator Red is a sweet red named for a grain elevator that was one of the original buildings in a small town no longer standing in the township.

Another wine features a former country school building that at one time was located just up the road from the winery.

Haverkamp further expresses her artistic side by offering painting parties at the winery. She hosts an estimated six to eight parties a year, a number based on interest and availability.

The parties can be organized as fundraisers, company get-togethers or just as an afternoon spent learning to paint with friends.

In looking ahead, Haverkamp said she doesn’t expect to grow a great deal.

“For right now, we like working with what have,” she said. “In the future, we will likely invest in bigger and better equipment, but we’re not too concerned with expanding.”

“We are happy with our little family winery.”

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