When and why did you start Burgdorf’s Winery?
We opened in the spring of 2005. I was in my late 40s and Dave in his early 50s, and we saw that retirement was just around the corner. We both like to stay active, so we took Dave’s hobby and turned it into a small business.
How did your backgrounds play into the formation of the business?
Dave worked for the USDA as a plant materials specialist and grew up on a small farm in west-central Illinois. I was a fermentation microbiologist at Michigan Biotechnology Institute for about 15 years in East Lansing. We decided, with our experience and background, that a winery would be a good match.
You basically started the operation in your garage. How has it grown over the years?
We did start the business in our three-car garage, just the two of us as a home business. We very quickly found that we needed more room and the ability to hire help, so we applied for a special use through the township. The process took a couple years, but we managed to get the approval to expand in 2008. We now have a nice facility to produce the wine and still use the three-car garage as our tasting room.
You take pride in being a locally sourced winery. Why is that important to you?
It’s important to us to source fruit from Michigan to call ourselves a true Michigan winery. When you go to a winery, the expectation is that the fruit is grown locally, and the wine is produced by that winery. This is not always the case. We are planning to launch, in the near future, a designation called “Truly Michigan,” which would designate wineries that produce their own wine from 100% Michigan-sourced fruit.
Your wines have won numerous awards. Does one stand out for you?
It’s tough to pick just one wine. Of course, we’re proud of the ones that win gold medals. To list a few: We have dry, red wines named after our grandchildren, FAYE, Finlay and Fischer; a dry Un-Oaked Chardonnay; a bourbon barreled dry red, Chambourcin grape we call Spartan Reserve; and a blend of fruit wines called Berried Treasure.
How do you separate yourself from others in your industry?
For one, we have a female winemaker, or vintner, and owner. Also, as stated before, we pride ourselves in making unique wines. … All of our wines are Truly Michigan, produced on site at our winery from 100% Michigan-grown fruit. We also pride ourselves in great customer service.
What is the most-common comment you hear from your customers?
“We love coming to your place and love all your wines.” “There wasn’t one wine we didn’t enjoy.” “Your winery is very welcoming, comfortable and relaxing.” … We also get great compliments on our staff. We wouldn’t be a successful winery without our employees’ help and dedication.