Brick Arch Winery Rises Again in Iowa
When Ilene Lande, owner of Brick Arch Winery, received a call from the mayor of West Branch, Iowa saying, “Get into town, you’ve got a problem,” she suspected that something might have gone wrong during the construction of the winery. However, she was not prepared for a scene of total devastation. The 1907 Post Office building that was being converted into the winery’s tasting room had completely collapsed during renovation. (Fortunately there were no injuries.)
“Our first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, what we will do now?” said Lande who owns Brick Arch with her husband John. Not only was their dream a pile of rubble, the collapse meant they had just lost a $100,000 grant for the renovation of the historic building. Lande said she, her husband, and daughter Ellie went home from what was left of the building at 9:00 p.m. “After the day we’d had, we decided that a sip of whiskey might be in order,” Lande said. “During the second wee dram, John and I started making lists of what we should do next.” Our daughter said, “Look at you two. You’ve already moved through the grief stage and started to move on.”
And move on is exactly what Ilene and John did. Within a month of the June 2010 accident, the foundation walls around the site of the first failed excavation were under construction. Digging under the debris pile and recovering the bricks one by one, the Landes and their crew recovered the arch from the old post office from which the winery gets its name. By August, all design changes were made and construction started on an entirely new building that includes the arch as well as the adjacent site of an old gas station that now serves as an event space and live music area.
On June 11, 2011 a grand opening was held in the new tasting room with free tastings all day long. The tasting room and concert area are now one of the centerpieces of downtown West Branch. Brick Arch, which produces 3,500 gallons of primarily regional wine each year, gets a substantial amount of business from travelers on nearby 1-80 who come to West Branch to visit the expansive Herbert Hoover Library, one of 15 presidential libraries operated by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
To advertise to travelers on the busy interstate, Brick Arch hopes to get permission to erect an attraction sign, but the winery is meeting resistance from the Iowa Department of Transportation. For more information please visit their website, http://www.brickarchwinery.com/, Emails supporting the attraction sign can be sent to the email address at the bottom of the Brick Arch home page.