After a decade in Gardner, the KC Pumpkin Patch had to pick up and move north to make way for new development.
But owners Kirk and Julie Berggren found the perfect spot — 40 peaceful acres near 135th and Gardner Road in Olathe with a 4,000-square-foot machine shed, small pond stocked with crappie and smallmouth bass and even a small vineyard.
At first, the couple planned to plow down the vineyard and replace it with more pumpkin plants.
“I had no intention of opening a winery,” said Kirk Berggren. “The pumpkin patch is a large endeavor.”
That’s when his daughter, Taylor Berggren, stepped in.
She had grown up helping with the pumpkin patch, first making funnel cakes, snow cones and cotton candy in its Sugar Shack while in junior high school, then working her way up to admissions and sales positions. After earning a a degree in dietetics and nutrition from Kansas State University in 2013, she revamped the pumpkin patch’s concession menu and operating procedures.
With that experience behind her, she was ready to take on the vineyard. She told her parents it would take several years to get the vineyard ready and instead of planting more pumpkins on the land, the family should open a boutique winery.
It took months of mowing, weeding and restringing vines to get the rolling acres in shape, work that is ongoing.
The machine shed was dotted with faded oil stains from the old tractors and other farm equipment, but the family put down sealant to prevent wine stains.
They covered the barrel-shaped ceiling and roof with cedar planks and burnt barn wood and put up garage doors on the east side of the shed for a view of the vineyard.
The shed now has a retail area on one side, a tasting bar on the other and large chandeliers over the tables. The tables are made from old wine barrels. Customers can savor glasses of wine at picnic tables and benches outside.
A wine barrel was converted into a mailbox by the road. A sign with the address — 13875 S. Gardner Road — runs along the cargo bed of a rusty 1946 Ford truck.
The Berggren family had about 9,000 bottles ready for the June 20 opening and more wine in barrels waiting to be bottled. They did it all by hand, even putting the black-and-white KC Wine Co. logos on bottles and sticking a chart on the back of each with check marks for delicate, robust, dry, sweet, soft, tart, fruity or earthy.
They sourced some grapes from elsewhere in Kansas, as well as New York and Nebraska. KC Wine Co. currently sells Seyval Blanc, Brianna, Cayuga White, Norton, Chambourcin, Prairie Rose, Riesling, Chambourcin, and Sunflower Red at its winery, which is open from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and Thursday and noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It also is booking private events.
“We would like to get into as many local restaurants as we can get into and then branch off into liquor stores,” said Taylor Berggren.
The winery also sells local meats and cheeses and plans to add three more red wines this summer and later its own brand of hard cider.
The Berggren family also will put up a new 9,000-square-foot barn on the south side of the pond for their KC Pumpkin Patch, which will be open Sept. 26 to Halloween. It typically draws about 2,500 visitors on weekends during the season, about 400 per day during the week.