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Explore The Pour July 2014 : Page 25

the Burtkas’ humble beginnings in the business. John says he picked up on qual-ity winemaking techniques from his father, grandfather and uncles, all of whom made wine for fun. After perfecting his craft, John submitted his wines for judging. After several years of winning “best in show,” John says he was inspired to start manufacturing his product. Though John oversees all op-erations, winemaking for Cherry Creek as well as Grand River Marketplace, which is also owned by the Burtkas, is handled by Blake Kownacki. Kownacki has winemaking experience in both California and Australia. Using only the best es-tate-grown fruit as well as grapes sourced from Berrien County, Cherry Creek offers wines for both novice and seasoned wine aficio-nados. Schoolhouse turned winery The Burtkas purchased the Old Schoolhouse and turned it into a tasting room in 2006. The build-ing, formally known as “Wood-stock #2,” was built in 1870 and housed children of all ages in one room. The Burtkas say they kept the character of the building by preserving the original hardwood floors and ceiling. The original school bell still exists and most children—and a few adults—get a kick out of ringing the bell when they visit. When the opportunity to pur-chase the building presented itself, the Burtkas say they couldn’t pass it up. “We love our location—we have put so much work into making this a destination,” Denise Burtka says. Today, people from all over visit to sample the delectable wine and specialty goods on hand such as 24 { July 2014 } ExploreThePour.com

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