Reynolds, Gregg tour area ag facilities
Governor visits Backcountry Winery
STRATFORD — A Stratford winery caught the attention of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds during the 2017 Iowa State Fair. Last week, Reynolds had a chance to see the Backcountry Winery in action.
The winery is owned and operated by Amber and Preston Gable and was started in 2014. Backcountry Winery boasts 12 varieties of red, white and fruit wine.
“Well, first of all, they (the Gables) won The Governor’s Cup at the Iowa State Fair, so I got to meet the family there and learn a bit more about the operation,” said Reynolds. “I told her I looked forward to coming out and seeing it firsthand.”
Reynolds made good on her word last Thursday morning, visiting in honor of Manufacturing Day.
“We go to all 99 counties every year and so we look for different businesses, we go to schools, we do a whole host of different meetings so we can find out what’s going on in the counties,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to really incorporate that into the 99 county visit and to really see their operation.”
“We found out just a little over a week ago that she was planning her stop in Hamilton County at the winery,” said Amber Gable. “We were absolutely thrilled to host her.”
The Gables gave Reynolds a tour of their renovated barn which houses their tasting room and wine making equipment.
“We started with a brief tour of our facility and explaining a little bit of the wine production process,” Gable said.
“It was fun to learn about it,” said Reynolds. “It’s great story. It was really an inspiring morning.”
She added she was impressed with the growth the business has seen in its first three years of operation. The Gables are also in the process of building an addition to the barn, which will house more equipment and a suite where brides can get dressed.
“The growth. That’s what I think is exciting,” Reynolds said. “It’s a relatively new business and they’re already expanding and looking for other opportunities.”
In addition to wine making and tasting, Backcountry Winery hosts weddings, showers, and local musicians.
“It’s all focused on Iowa, which I think is great too. Bringing in Iowa musicians and having singers and bands and having people just gather here … they’re working together,” Reynolds said.
“I love how they are so creative and the different things that they’re bringing to the winery and offering our young people,” said added. “We want our young people staying in Iowa. We’ve got such a good quality of life and so much to offer with great education.”
The century-old barn that houses the tasting room and equipment took 18 months to renovate. Reynolds was impressed with the landscape the small business boasted.
“The venue here is beautiful,” said Reynolds. “All in all, I was extremely impressed.”
“It really put things into perspective for us,” said Gable. “We work so hard on things nights and weekends and everywhere trying to get our name out there.”
A select number of community members were also present for Reynolds’ visit. Each individual has played a supportive role in the winery’s establishment.
“These individuals represent those who have helped get us to where we are today,” said Gable.
“This is just so impressive. What an amazing Iowa couple,” Reynolds said. “I love the work ethic. I love the creativity. I love their can-do attitude.”
“It was a great visit,” said Gable. “The fact that she chose us to represent Hamilton County was just beyond words. We feel so blessed.”
Reynolds vistied other other small businesses and industries.
“We’ll be making a lot of our stops at manufacturing businesses, small, medium and large,” said Reynolds. “One of our biggest barriers to economic growth in Iowa is a skilled workforce.”
“There’s so many opportunities in our manufacturing industry. It’s the largest sector of our GDP — almost 19 percent of our gross state product comes from advanced manufacturing.”
She hopes that highlighting local businesses and industry will give students more information about different career paths.
“These are great careers, so we really want our young people to make that connection about the opportunities that exist, not only in the state, but in the reflective communities all across Iowa,” said Reynolds.
Really, that is going to help us grow our economy,” said Reynolds. “Businesses are growing, they just need workers.”