Farming, family and the future. Our story begins with a farming background of more than 70 years and a love for the land that we both grew up on in Sac County Iowa. Norm Phillips, a corn and soybean farmer, and Marsha Phillips, a teacher, were just living a life of family, work and play. Making our land and farming operation sustainable has been our goal. Diversifying to grapes from corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle has fit right in.
We blame our vineyard and winery on our youngest son, Andrew. He entered Iowa State University in 2005 as an Agronomy major. His first days were spent in a “learning community”. As a member of that community they took a trip to a winery and vineyard in southern Iowa. A subsequent call to us, his parents, followed that night, and with excitement in his voice, Andrew was smitten with the idea of a vineyard and declared that “we should do that”. Our enthusiasm for the idea was not as fiery as his, but he did ignite a spark. As we all did research, took classes and read books, we were more than ready when Andrew asked what acre of land he could use to plant some grapes. With a bachelor of science in Agronomy, Andrew was well equipped for soil sampling and choices in variety of grapes.
In 2009 we planted our first acre. Two rows of Frontenac, two rows of St. Croix, and two rows of Brianna, cold cultivar grapes filled the space south of our house. Our vineyard continued to grow and in 2011 we planted an acre of Brianna, 2013 an acre of Frontenac and an acre of St. Croix in 2014. In May 2013 we started the process of converting our 1920’s barn into a winery. The barn, a former cattle, then hog, then junk facility was gradually converted by Norm with the help of our two sons and two grandsons. We opened doors to the winery on Memorial Day weekend in May of 2017 and have snowballed forward.
Our farming background and our wonderful family have been the driving force to fulfill this dream. All four of our children and their spouses as well as our 15 grandchildren help create and run Rustic River Winery & Vineyard. It is truly a family affair. Our dear friends have offered encouragement, support and helping hands and we couldn’t have done it without them.
Our mission is to create a relaxing atmosphere that communicates what a pleasure it is to welcome and serve you, our customer. We strive to share our stories and our quality wine, and to make our customers part of our family and future.