The small family-owned winery of Cody Kresta

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MATTAWAN, MI -- In rural eastern Van Buren County you'll find a small family-owned winery called Cody Kresta. The name Cody is derived from a labrador retriever that would walk and run in the vineyard everyday with its owner David Butkovich. The Kresta name comes from the Croation word meaning hilltop, like that of a grape vineyard on a small ridge.

For years David and his wife Mary Lou have been making wine and crushing grapes, mainly for friends, family, and their own consumption. About five years ago they decided to produce their fruit of the vine commercially. David is no stranger to the vineyard. He's third generation after his grandfather and grandmother started the farm in the 1880s coming over from Croatia.

Cody Kresta only has about two and a half acres of vineyards, used more for their specialty wines and reserves. The majority of their products are pressed/crushed from grapes that arrive from other areas here in West Michigan. Michigan itself is actually home to many wineries across the state, but southwest lower Michigan seems to be the perfect place to grow grapes with southern Lake Michigan tempering the growing season to last longer.

From a little more than two acres, Cody Kresta can produce about six tons of grapes or 300 cases of wine. One ton of grapes generally yields about 140 gallons of juice or 60 cases of wine. They grow several different kinds, but the two most popular are Riesling and Cab Franc. David says " Michigan makes/grows one of the best Rieslings in the United States"! The Cab Franc is great because it tolerates cold temperatures. It's probably their number one reserve grape they make.

If you've never been to a wine tasting, Cody Kresta is a great place to start. Their warm, inviting room and patio is a great place to relax and learn about wine while spending some quiet time sipping their products. They've got about 22 different varities available for purchase including a very sweet nectar called ice wine. Not everyone makes ice wine, and I had actually never heard of it prior to this story. The grapes are harvested while frozen on the vine in December and January. It takes more labor to crush/press them in to wine, and the end result is a very sweet, slow-drinking sipping wine. It's probably one of the sweetest wines you'll ever have!

A real specialty for David and Mary Lou is a white wine produced from the Cab Franc grape. If you know your grapes, you'll know that red wine typically comes from the Cab Franc grape. It's thought that Cody Kresta may be the only winery in the state, perhaps the Midwest, to be producing the white Cab Franc wine.

David told me a story that his dad was in the hospital years back when he and Mary Lou had to pick up an order of grapes from a local farm. He got the call while enroute that his dad had passed. They wondered what they would call this new wine with these new grapes. They decided to name the new vintage after his dad and call it Rudy's Red. To this day it remains their best seller. It's a sweet red wine high in sugar with some vanilla notes to it.

David and Mary Lou Butkovich are probably two of the nicest people you'll meet. It's not about business with them, but about taking pride in what they produce and also meeting people. Find their website here. You'll find their Facebook page here. Cody Kresta is located in the beautiful Van Buren County countryside (west of Kalamazoo) at 45727 27th St, Mattawan, MI 49071 ยท (269) 668-3800

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