September 18, 2014
Dean and Nancy Rogers are not your typical vineyard owners—and John 15 Vineyard in Scranton is not your typical Iowa Vineyard. It is one of the only, if not the only, commercial vineyards in Iowa that does not produce wine or sell grapes to wineries.
Instead, they offer a variety of grapes and grape products, “Just like Grandma used to make. Only better!” Homemade grape goodies include jams and jellies, syrup, jam-filled cookies and candies, pies, 100 percent grape juice, and mulled grape cider. Frozen grapes are available year-round and fresh grapes in season (usually September).
John 15 Vineyard is also more than just a vineyard—the peaceful country setting includes a Conference and Event Center, lodging, tree-house camping, pond for fishing or relaxing, and an 18-hole “Pitch & Putt” golf course.
The Conference and Event Center looks like a newly-constructed barn-shaped building with a large covered porch, but inside is evidence of the original barn built in the early 1900s. When Dean and Nancy converted the old barn, they used great care in using original materials, such as exposed wood frame supports and old barn board paneling in the main conference room.
The large and cozy conference room offers table seating for up to 100 guests. With the fully licensed catering kitchen, it’s a popular location for family celebrations, weddings, receptions/banquet, social events, and business meetings. Even in this relaxing country setting, it is high tech with full multi-media capabilities and Wi-Fi.
John 15 Vineyard is regularly booked for weddings held by the picturesque pond followed by receptions in the Conference and Event Center. With two large lodging rooms and private baths on the second floor, renting the entire building is a popular option for hosting events. They often have brides, bridesmaids and attendants stay over the night before the wedding. With a full breakfast buffet provided. It’s a relaxing start to a special day.
For family events and parties, each lodging room has a “kids cave” sleeping area that is very popular with kids of all ages.
For adventurous overnight guests, there is a “treehouse camping” in an oversized tent on a large deck suspended from two massive oak trees in a wooded, private setting. The camping area includes a fire pit, picnic tables, timbered area for hiking and exploring, shower facilities, and the all-important portable toilet. While the treehouse tent sleeps up to eight, the deck and other camping area can accommodate many more additional campers.
Other special groups have selected the vineyard for their events. A group of about 120 participants from the Gary McDonald Memorial Tractor Ride enjoyed a full breakfast buffet, complete with delicious grape products. It was an ideal location with ample parking for the tractors and trailers.
They have also hosted weekends for quilting groups who appreciate all the table space, access to a kitchen, and lodging in peaceful and private setting.
The large, scenic pond is just a short walk from the Conference and Event Center and is perfect for picnicking or casting your fishing line for blue gill, crappie, bass and channel catfish.
Also unique to Iowa is an 18-hole “Pitch & Putt” golf course ideal for beginners or anyone who wants to enjoy a light-hearted round of golf while wandering through pasture and around the pond. Golfing is free for guests staying at the vineyard or is $3 for nine holes and $5 for 18 holes. Bring your clubs and balls, or some can be provided.
With all the amenities and grape products offered, John 15 Vineyard has come a long way from the simple beginnings of a house and a barn purchased by Nancy’s father many years ago. Her father, Dr. Orman Nelson, was a physician in Jefferson who bought the property as a getaway in the country. He never lived there but often visited, and it was left to Nancy and Dean when he passed away. Nancy’s mother is 104 years old and still enjoys visits to the property.
Dean grew up on a farm in Albia and hoped to farm again one day. Nancy and Dean were both working full-time when they moved to the farm, and grapes were a good start-up with low financial investment, simple equipment, and minimal experience needed. Their business has expanded and flourished, and they now both work full-time in their vineyard business.
Dean and Nancy’s faith is evident in all they do, and is reflected in the vineyard name from John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Dean shared their thankfulness about the vineyard, “We praise the Lord for what he has given us and the opportunity to share it with others.”
John 15 Vineyard is located at 343 180th Street northwest of Scranton and is open Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and by appointment. Guided tours are available free of charge.
For information and reservations, call 712-652-3760 or 712-210-1001, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit john15vineyard.com. Products are also offered at area farmer’s markets and local businesses.
Courtesy of Lora Koch, The Scranton Journal, 09/17/14