Historically, grape growing has always been a part of Iowa agriculture, right along all the things Iowa is more well-known for, like corn and soybeans. The earliest available records indicate that wine has been produced in Iowa since the mid-1800s. In fact, during the early twentieth century, Iowa was the sixth largest wine producer in the nation. However, Prohibition and severe blizzards changed the landscape, and wine production in Iowa greatly slowed. That is, until recently!
Over the past two decades, Iowa has experienced a wine industry boom. Twenty years ago, there were only thirty acres of grapes being grown in Iowa. That number has grown to almost forty times its original size, with over 1,200 acres being grown today. Iowa is also home to eight different wine trails and over a hundred wineries. Each of those wineries produces on average 3,000 gallons of wine per year! Much of this growth is due to the creation of the Iowa Wine Growers Association, which was created in order to bond together and represent both the grape growers and the wine makers across the state.
The wine industry is wonderful for Iowa communities. Many wineries are small businesses, and many, like our own winery, are located in old buildings, preserving Iowa history. Our Wide River Winery location in the Village of East Davenport was awarded the Iowa Historic Preservation award. Our Davenport tasting room was originally the Peter Lampe house, a boarding house for railroad travelers. But history isn’t the only boon of Iowa wineries; they attract visitors to the small communities they are a part of, boosting the activities of restaurants, boutiques, and other small businesses in the area.