The Old Bank Winery, in Kanawha, offers nine different wines made from Concord, St. Croix, Frontenac and Edelweiss grapes as well as cranberries and strawberries.
Owners Nancy Litch and her husband, David, started planting the winery and fixing up the building, known as the “old bank,” which still has the vaults and teller counter, in 2003.
They opened the winery for business in 2005 using wines made from strawberries and cranberries.
Nancy said Banker’s Holiday, made with Frontenac grapes, is one of her most popular wines, especially around the holiday season, along with her cranberry wine.
Nancy also sells some of her Concord grapes at about 75 cents a pound and people can go out and pick some grapes themselves, since she doesn’t use all the grapes for wine.
“It’s fun getting out in the vineyard and picking the most beautiful clusters for yourself,” she said.
The vineyard is about a mile and a half south of Kanawha, and Nancy said it’s an old family farm that has been around for a century. It includes a huge barn and big bins, where she likes to spend most of her time.
“We spend a day down there and it’s like, ‘Oh, got to go back to Kanawha. That was nice,’” she said. “Down there, it’s just nicer, you know? It’s kind of breezy and quiet, birds chirping and the crickets.”
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Nancy said she and her husband had reached a point in their lives when they could “do some things that are kind of questionable,” after running a successful plumbing company together, while making their own batches of wine on the side when they lived in Colorado.
When they came to Kanawha to visit the century farm, Nancy said she saw all the black dirt and thought about what she could do here rather than in Colorado.
Despite needing “a lot of love and fixing up,” when they found out the old bank building was available, the two saw it as a possibility and decided to come and start a winery.
They named it the Old Bank Winery because Nancy realized the people in the town were traditional and “really love their history,” she said.
With her husband's recent health issues in mind, Nancy said she had to reevaluate the winery and figure out how to take care of him while still running the winery.
The winery also serves as a small inn with two suites for people to stay in for any reason from needing a break from noisy kids during a football game to having a place to stay while visiting the area, Nancy said.
Old Bank Winery wines can be found at Louie’s Custom Meats and More and the Lake Coffee and Bakery in Clear Lake, they HyVee Drug Store and Food Store in Mason City, the Britt Food Center and Gifts Sew Sweet in Britt and the Iowa Wines and More in Harlan, in addition to the winery storefront in Kanawha.