2017-07-06 / Front Page

Boskydel to close, having accomplished mission

Five sons need rest
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff

BERNIE RINK, who championed a $5 bottle of red wine, overlooks Boskydel Vineyards BERNIE RINK, who championed a $5 bottle of red wine, overlooks Boskydel Vineyards The impending closing of Boskydel Vineyard, one of the county’s first wineries, is being viewed as completion of a life’s plan.

The sons of wine-growing icon Bernie Rink announced on the vineyard’s website an “important message to our patrons,” outlining plans to cease winery and tasting room operations on Jan. 1.

“He’s 90, so we have been trying to follow in his footsteps without success,” said Andy Rink, who is an architect in Traverse City in his “second job.” “In his own words, it served a purpose. He started this to keep five boys tired at night.”

Those five boys grew up clearing bush, trimming vines and clamoring across the Rink hillside overlooking south Lake Leelanau. Bernie Rink was a librarian at Northwestern Michigan College who believed wine had a place at every dinner table, including the working class.

Rink, now 90, still tips a glass with old friends and long-time patrons at the 42-year-old winery. His wife, Suzanne, died ten years ago.

But Bernie’s time in the tasting room has diminished, said son Andy.

And he’s come to grips with the thought that Boskydel Vineyard will change.

“He supports what we’re doing,” said Andy when reached at Boskydel. “And in his words, ‘It served a purpose,’ turning the boys from liabilities into assets. I’m sure it was hard at first, but I think he’s come around to understanding that it makes a lot more sense.”

Jim Rink, who was known across the state as the public relations face of AAA Michigan, has retired and now lives on the farm. But the three other brothers are scattered across the country from Sault St. Marie to Tulsa.

“We’re pretty tired and worn out by now. I’d love to be 90 and still going, but we’ve already put in a lot of time, sweat and tears,” Andy Rink said.

But those experimental grape vines may continue to produce as intended when planted by the Rinks about 50 years ago.

The family is entertaining offers to lease Boskydel, which includes 25 acres of grapes and a production building that’s about 40-feet by 80-feet with tasting room, Andy said.

Right now, though, they have no certain plans other than to close after the growing season. Wine is being sold for 40 percent off its shelf price.

“Maybe we will be able to come up with a lease agreement. This is all new to us,” he said.

Boskydel is flanked on the east side of its moraine by L.Mawby Vineyards, which is run by another pioneer in the county wine-growing industry.

“I’m of two minds about it,” said Larry Mawby, whose sparkling wines have gained national acclaim. “On the one hand, it’s a shame that the vineyards and winery, their business, is not going to continue. But I think Bernie has accomplished what he intended to do.”

Mawby added that the closing of Boskydel provides no reflection on the health of the northwestern Michigan wine industry as a whole.

“It’s not closing because of business failure. It’s closing because it accomplished what Bernie and Suzanne wanted to accomplish. There’s a shortage of grapes for what the wineries need. There are 40 wineries in the Grand Traverse area, and they are all doing something different. The fact that Boskydel completed their plan is a good thing,” Mawby said.

Andy Rink will miss the wine business.

“It’s a labor of love. I love it. That’s why it’s bittersweet. But it takes so much energy,” he said.

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