Rock N' Wool Winery: Chicago family opens Wisconsin winery on sheep farm
POYNETTE, Wis. - A Chicago family has traded in the big city for stomping grapes.
If you’re old enough to remember the old television show Green Acres, you might know how this story goes.
Shaun and Maria Lapacek moved their family to Poynette, Wisconsin. Shaun worked tirelessly to turn his father’s sheep farm into a winery.
"All the sheep poop is really good nitrogen for the grapes," said Shaun jokingly.
Turns out, the rocky soil was also a win.
"We also saw there were a lot of wineries in the Midwest and the industry was growing. Michigan has a lot of wineries, Illinois has wineries and Wisconsin also now has a lot of wineries," said Maria.
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They named their endeavor Rock N’ Wool Winery. But it wasn’t all green pastures at first.
"The grapes are not mature until five years after being planted so imagine that you're putting this major amount of money and hope and faith into this endeavor and it's going to be five years before you even see or reap any rewards at all," said Shaun.
The couple grew their business, using only Wisconsin grapes, into an award-winning dream. Intertwined with business is family, that’s why everyone from their girls to their parents are on the labels. They even tap into free labor, giving neighbors a bottle of wine when they help with bottling.
"You have to have realistic expectations. And, you have to know what you're getting into and do the math before you walk into it," said Maria.
"Dreams are wonderful. They are amazing. They keep you going, but you also have to have the fortitude to say, 'ok I'm going to make this happen,'" said Shaun.
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"I'm only 18 years old. I look this old now because of putting together a winery," added Shaun with a grin.
Rock N’ Wool Winery is located two-and-a-half hours outside Chicago. To check out the farm, go here: www.rocknwoolwinery.com.