For Joe and Erica Krajkiewcz, wine is not only a passion — it’s a creative endeavor.
“I’ve found making wine to be the right sort of balance of artistry and science,” said Joe Krajkiewcz — co-founder, owner and winemaker of Michigan Wine Company.
With a background in engineering and a love for making metal sculptures, Krajkiewcz is a creator at heart. His wife Erica, a physical education teacher, is an avid runner and marathoner. Together, the couple turned their creative and adventurous interests towards winemaking in 2017 and planted their first vineyard in Fennville.
It started with a simple aspiration, followed by visits to other wineries in smaller, up-and-coming wine regions. After watching these emerging wineries, the Krajkiewczs saw the opportunity to open a small West Michigan winery.
“The Saugatuck/Douglas/Fennville area has such a great history of fruit growing and artistry,” Joe Krajkiewcz said. “Both of those items are important to our goal of staying authentic and artistic.”
Michigan Wine Company was formed in 2018. After months of construction and a first commercial crop in 2019, the winery was set to open in May of this year. Yet, with the unexpected events and drastic changes of 2020, the Krajkiewczs altered original plans and opened the winery on June 12.
“What we’ve done is try to be good at walking before we start running, as much as we’d love to be running,” Joe Krajkiewcz said. “Neither of our educations or backgrounds are in the wine industry, but we’ve enjoyed the challenge and it has been a fun experience to chase an entrepreneurial goal.”
That goal has turned into a total of 8 acres, a tasting room, 10 wines and three ciders. Three of those acres currently grow white grapes, while the Krajkiewczs are saving another two in hopes to grow their first acre of estate red wine grapes next spring.
The tasting room — located in the same building as the winery — sits less than 100 feet away from the vineyard.
“We wanted to be as close as possible to our grapes, as it’s an important part of what we’re doing — farm-to-finished product,” Joe Krajkiewcz said.
It’s not just the close proximity of the vineyard that makes Michigan Wine Company unique, but also the untraditional way the wines are paired. As lovers of outdoor recreation and creative pursuits, the Krajkiewczs’ wines each have an “adventure” pairing on the label.
“Fun activities like downhill skiing, watching the sunset, watercolor painting or taking out the pontoon boat — these are the sort of exciting moments of life that we think of saying cheers to and celebrating,” Joe Krajkiewcz said.
For instance, the Dry Hopped white wine pairs well with Christmas parades, disc golf and back country camping.
“We’re particularly happy with our Dry Hopped white wine,” Joe Krajkiewcz said. “We use Seyval Blanc grapes with Citra Hops to create a crisp, refreshing white wine with complimentary citrus aromas. It’s the first hopped wine made in Michigan and was very warmly received this summer.”
While Michigan begins to mature into bright fall hues, Krajkiewcz looks forward to harvesting their Traminette vintage.
“Michigan Wine Company is the sum of our experiences,” he said. “Things we’ve both found enjoyable in wine tasting and visiting different places. We want to be able to create that sort of special connection with the people that visit us at the winery.”
As only the beginning in an exciting and unique undertaking, Michigan Wine Company will have much more to offer in the coming months and years.