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History of the Grape and Wine Industry in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska

1857

Grape Growing as a commercial Proposition starts in Western Iowa

1857

Agricultural Experiment Station

Agricultural Experiment Station

Grape growing as a commercial proposition in western Iowa, started in the vicinity of Council Bluffs as early as 1857. The Council Bluffs district has about 500 acres of bearing vines and 200 acres on non-bearing age, or a total of about 700 acres.

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History of the Western Iowa Grape Growers Association at Loess Hills
1869

A. S. Bohnam asks about a press and potential prices for Concord wine he was planning on producing from the 1869 grape crop.

1869

The Grape Culturist

The Grape Culturist

A Monthly Journal devoted to Grape Culture and Wine-Making with Editor,
George Husmann

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1886

Iowa State Horticultural Society discusses the heavy crop of Concord grape.

1886

Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society

Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society

Grapes – The crop of this fruit was very heavy, and of course the Concord was the variety that predominated, though Worden is considerable planted of late, and the fruit has appeared in the markets.

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1891

Newspaper report of the activity at the Council Bluffs Grape Growers’ Association headquarters at 201 Broadway

1891

The Omaha Daily Bee

The Omaha Daily Bee

June 30th, 1891 - The headquarters of the Council Bluffs Grape Growers association at 201 Broadway was the sight of great activity, for the association was handling all the output, and shipping direct to customers the same day the fruit was picked. The supply was great and the orders promptly filled.

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1893

Iowa State Horticultural Society discusses the marketing of grapes through the Council Bluffs Grape Growers’ Association.

1893

Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society

Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society

In extending our vineyards we must look around for a market for our products. Select a location that has advantages regarding transportation facilities as well as a good home market.

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1896

From the Book ‘A History of Wine In America” discusses some of the driving forces of grape growing in western Iowa and Eastern Neberaska

1896

A History of Wine in America

A History of Wine in America

A report on his operations in 1896 noted that Pitz's success had stimulated "a number of German capitalists" to investigate the chances of wine growing in Nebraska No extensive development followed, but a small industry has persisted in the region, especially on the opposite bank of the Missouri, in Iowa, around Council Bluffs.

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1898

Newspaper report about the Western Iowa Grape Growers’ Association meeting held at 134 East Broadway. Discussed participation in “Grape Days”

1898

The Omaha Daily Bee

The Omaha Daily Bee

Member of the Council Bluffs Grape Growers’ Shipping association held a meeting in their office at 134 East Broadway to consider taking parting in “Grape Day”.

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1901

Iowa State Horticultural Society discusses “Where are we in Grape Culture” in 1901

1901

Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society

Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society

Where are we in Grape Culture?
Before the severe winter of 1989 we would point with pride at our success in grape culture in Western Iowa and would frequently compare it with our corn crop.

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1907

From the book “History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa” Vol 1 by Field & Reed discusses history of grapes in Pottawattamie County and the new warehouses built by the Council Bluffs Grape Growers Association.

1907

History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa

History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa

From the book “History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa” Vol 2 by Field & Reed. Records the death of grape industry leader George M Allingham.

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1909

From the publication “The Fruit Grower” April 1909 Vol 90 Issue. Discusses the history of the Council Bluffs Grape Growers’ Association and information about the 1908 grape crop including price comparison between 1907 and 1908.

1909

The Fruit Grower April

The Fruit Grower April

Growing Grapes in the Central Valley States
If there is any one fruit which has been neglected in the Middle west of recent years it has been the grape.

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1916

From the book “The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture” 1916. Starting on page 2194. Discusses the grapes grown and the size of the 1909 and 1910 crops

1916

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Practically all parts of the state can produce good grapes, though the centers of commercial vineyards are largely confined to the regions surrounding Council Bluffs on the west and Des Moines in the central part.

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1921

From The Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts - Grape Production and distribution in Western Iowa, 1921 report. A very inclusive report on the status of Grape production in western Iowa.

1921

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Agricultural Experiment Station – Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts

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1940

Picture from the Des Moines Register. Showing casks being unloaded for the Council Bluffs Grape Growers’ Assocation.

1940

The Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Register

Here's the caption from this photo, which ran in August, 1940: "Workmen at the Council Bluffs Grape Growers Association winery move one of the 18 vats recently purchased. Fifteen of the vats are being moved into the basement of the new addition to the association. ... Each vat holds 3,500 gallons of wine. Left to right are Ralph Prior, Mike Reggio and Clay McBride."

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1942

Death of W.S. Keeline - Head of the Council Bluffs Grape Growers’ Association

1942

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

The Keeline Family Person Sheet

William Steward Keeline

Birth: 2 Dec 1862 Bridgeport, Belmont Co. OH
Death: 12 Apr 1942, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie Co., IA
Burial: Walnut Hill Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Co., IA
Occupation: Horticulturist; Head of Grape Growers Association

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2009

Sherbondys nursery discusses grape growing in Western Iowa

2009

Sherbondys – The Garden Place

Sherbondys – The Garden Place

It is hard to believe that Council Bluffs Iowa once had a thriving grape industry. The wine of choice was named Betty Anne. We have the soil and climate to grow some good grapes. So what happened to the industry?

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2014

Gerald Podraza donates an antique Betty Ann wine bottle

2014

Gerald Podraza

Gerald Podraza

Gerald Podraza donates an antique Betty Ann Wine bottle to the Western Iowa Grape Growers Association. Pictured below is Gerald Podraza presenting the Betty Ann Wine Bottle to WeIGGA president Doug Grave at the 2014 Iowa Wine Growers Association Conference in Des Moines.

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