Good things seem to sprout out of a passion. A passion for homemade jellies, salsas, ketchup's, etc., grew into a passion for homemade wines. Tony Putz (winemaker) started his wine-making passion trying dandelion wine. Results were quite less than stellar, but his endeavors with wild blackberries and other fruits grew with each passing season. Sue (Tony’s wife) tolerated wines made at home, even though some batches were failures. Most were successful, each time fine tuning his hobby. During one of the annual neighborhood picnics held at Tony and Sue’s house, Ron Scheve (cousin) became inquisitive as to the process of wine-making. Volunteering to help “bottle” the oldest vintage, he seemed infatuated with the whole process.
1999 seemed to be an ordinary year, but the dream of taking their hobby to the next level was born. Many fruit pickings and bottling parties later, plans were taking shape to establish a winery. Where to build the winery, naming the business, how many wines to produce, searching for specialized equipment; gosh, the list seemed endless. With perseverance paying off, things came together in June of 2002. La Vida Loca (The Crazy Life) started operations as a small country wine store in rural Warren county, Iowa. Shelves were stocked with apple, raspberry, blackberry, wild plum, currant, pear, peach, rhubarb, and apricot wines. Several more varieties were in process. A line-up of 15-18 wines were planned.
2003 and 2004 saw double digit growth. Since the existing building was becoming too small, a decision was made to expand the winery. A 2000 sq. ft. reception hall and a below ground winery were added. In addition, an 800-plant vineyard was planted, supervised by Ron. The first wedding in 2005 spurred several years of continued growth. Grape wines were introduced in 2006. Buying grapes from local vineyards had expanded Tony’s wine-making skill, as well as adding inventory stocks of new wines.
With a vision of not “oaking” any fruit wines, the process of aging our wines became a priority. How long for red grapes? How long for white grapes? Allowing these wines to mature properly was accomplished. Bottling them at the proper time was established. Allowing these wines to express who they are became an art at La Vida Loca winery. Full bodied, mature, non-oaked styles of all our wines are available for purchase and/or enjoyed on our 2400 sq. ft. deck.
With years passing by, additional wines were added, especially those considered “outside the box”. Jalapeño was the first, blossom wines were second, vegetable wines were third. The vegetable wines (jalapeño, garlic, basil, rosemary, onion, cilantro) are enjoyed at home as marinades for grilling or as additions to soups, stews, or in the crackpot. Grape-growing and wine-making are still a passion for Tony and Ron at La Vida Loca Winery. Come visit us!