Prairie Crossing Winery recovers and rebuilds after summer tornado | New



(Treynor) – After suffering devastating tornado damage in June, a Pottawattamie County winery has reopened.

The Prairie Crossing Winery near Treynor held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday for the reopening of the tasting room as part of its “annual summer event”. However, remnants of June’s EF-1 tornado that tore through the county are still evident, including a concrete pad right where the winery event center sat. Juli Gray is one of the new owners of the winery, along with her husband, Douglas. Gray says they inspected the damage shortly after the storm at the cellar, which they were due to take possession of just 15 days later.

“I thought maybe we lost a roof and there were probably a few trees there, so I grabbed my husband and we went over there,” Gray explained. “It’s hard to even put into words how we felt when we went there and saw the absolute destruction. My husband said it had better be a ‘punch in the gut’ and that was definitely devastating.”

The basement event center was the hardest hit, which Gray says was a total loss. In addition, the roof of the tasting room had been flattened, the vineyard had been blown over, and debris had been strewn up to two miles from the winery. Some damage was also done to the house on the property, however, miraculously Gray says no wine bottles were broken. Although they considered not moving forward, Gray says the strong support from previous owners gave them the confidence to move forward with the long and arduous cleanup and rebuilding efforts.

“They really wanted to see the winery continue and had built such a wonderful business and such a great following, they really wanted it to continue,” Gray said. “So we worked very closely with them to fix as much as we could and get the tasting room back up and running as quickly as possible. Without their help I don’t know if we would have moved forward, honestly, but they’ve been fantastic.”

Gray says most current reconstruction efforts have focused on the tasting room.

“All of the effort was focused there at the beginning — putting the roof back up, putting the ceiling back in,” Gray said. “Honestly, the contractors were fabulous and they had us ready to open the doors a month after the tornado. So it happened on June 15th and we were able to reopen the tasting room on July 15th. But that’s just last monday we finally got our garage doors and about a week before we got the windows so we were working but it was with broken windows and whatever.

Gray says the community support, ranging from the Treynor High School football team to the initial cleanup efforts, to a strong turnout at the Craft Festival last weekend — originally canceled due to damage — has been phenomenal.

“After the cancellation there were a lot of disappointed people and they kept messaging saying ‘hey can we still do this’ or ‘are you still going to do this’ so we decided at the last minute to do it and see how it works without the event center,” she said. “It was an amazing day. We had a ribbon cutting as a sort of grand reopening (Sunday) and then we did the craft fair, we had a band – the turnout was more than I could have ever imagined.”

Gray says it was also important and satisfying to be part of one last big event before the usually sluggish winter season. However, Gray says the rebuilding efforts are not over and efforts will soon begin to rehabilitate the vineyards and possibly begin redesigning and building a new event center. The winery has also just been named “Best Vineyard” by the Daily Nonpareil’s 2022 Reader’s Choice.

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