Anybody passionate enough about something has wondered what it is like to turn that love into a business.A farm wife and grandmother wondered that same thing about growing grapes, selling wine and offering a rich experience in the middle of corn and bean fields of southern Minnesota. Only, Vicky Vogt wasn’t just daydreaming. She was serious.“When she first hit me with the idea, I said, ‘You’re crazy; let’s not do this,’” said Vicky’s husband, Gary Vogt, a lifelong farmer who has lived within the same mile his entire life.
Now when people walk in the futuristic, metal building, he’s the one they often see first – with a glass of sangria and a welcoming hand. Welcome to Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery.After a handshake and introduction, it’s quite obvious Gary is co-owner with Vicky, but he rarely introduces himself that way.“Hi, I’m Gary, the father of the four daughters,” he says with a grin and magnetic demeanor.From there, it’s wine, cider, gourmet food, music, a majestic setting and peaceful view of the vineyard and gently rolling farmland. It’s not California or Argentina, but it works well.
“I was never hesitant about it,” Vicky said about clearing the site, erecting the building, creating a business model and hiring nearly two dozen people. “I always wanted to do it from the minute I thought of it.”With the idea tightly wedged in their brains, Vick and Gary explored more. The couple who met in Rochester in the 70s had traveled extensively, toured some of the world’s vineyards and sampled their wines.“Everywhere we went, we always did wine tastings,” Gary said.
In February 2010, they studied more at a grape growers’ conference. The couple studied business models, picked others’ brains, interviewed architects and considered logo options.Once the fencing went up and grapes started growing right off the highway, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, others grew suspicious, as well. After all, this is Minnesota, and that six acres of wood, wire and vines was prime crop land.But they had reached the point of no return – not that they were going to change their minds. Plus, it seemed like a natural fit, given their tastes.
Yet there was another reason to go through with it, all: family.“It was to bring my kids home – that was the idea,” Vicky said.Thus far, that plan has worked like a charm, and family members have filtered into their own roles, including sons-in-law who are winemaker and vineyard manager. They’re not just filling the gaps, either. The whole family loves this stuff.“We do all like wine,” Vicky said. “We always, always liked wine.”Grape Stomp 2012!