West Michigan Artist/Outdoorsman To Bring New Vineyard To Saugatuck Area
A new vineyard is coming to the Saugatuck area.
West Michigan sculptor and outdoorsman Joe Krajkiewcz wants to add to his many life paths and activities, proposing a winery and tasting room just north of M-89 and east of Blue Star Highway on the south end of Saugatuck Township.
On February 28 the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission approved Krajkiewcz’s seven-acre site plan, parts of it behind the What-Not-Inn restaurant, for a small organic orchard and a 40’ x 64’ building that will house a tasting room.
“We want to start vineyard planting this May,” Krajkiewcz told planners.
He wants to begin with two acres then expand from there in the following years, aiming to open the winery in 2019.
In an attempt to assuage concerns voiced by neighboring property owners, pesticides and water runoff among others, Krajkiewcz said, “My goal is to live there. I also intend to be as organic as possible,” adding that he will use “green sprays” as his choice of a pesticide.
The operation will be the first of its kind for Krajkiewcz and his wife Erica.
In 2016, Krajkiewcz won bronze in the Winemaking International Amateur Wine Competition in the category of Other Wine Vinifera Varietals.
Other questions raised by neighbors revolve around increased vehicular traffic, adequate buffering between the operation and neighboring properties, and so on.
These issues prompted township officials to establish conditions on their approval: all surface water runoff must remain on site; an existing vegetated buffer must stay intact; and there is to be no access to either the orchard or the commercial operation by means of Old Garden Road, limited to only residential access.
“I am not a fan of it; I see my property’s value dwindling,” Andra Moerler, neighbor to the east of the site plan, told the township planning commission. “It’s a business. It’s concerning especially with nothing to buffer it from mine and with extra lights.”
In response to this and other concerns, Saugatuck Township Zoning Administrator Steve Kushion said, “There are rows and rows of buffering with a vineyard and apple trees.”
Those apple trees are another component of Krajkiewcz’s plans for the land—apart from the vineyard—and they will be planted on the east side of the parcel, he said.
Along the west side, the land boasts vegetated buffering.
The State of Michigan’s small winemaking license allows for the production of up to 50,000 gallons per year and for self-distribution up to a certain number of cases.
As for his three dimensional artwork, Krajkiewcz preferred medium is metal, and it has been featured in exhibitions and part of private and public collections throughout the Midwest.