Many have asked: What is the story behind the winery?
Covered Bridges Winery is owned and operated by Kevin and Jean Fifo and their long-time friends Kevin and Rose Boyle. That much is clear, but the story of how the winery came to be is always a little different, depending on which one of them you ask!
Kevin Fifo was a wine enthusiast and had an early interest in making wine because his father had done so before him. One year he asked for a wine-making kit for Christmas, and Jean bought it for him. He began to experiment in their basement. Jean was glad to have provided the gift, but didn’t enjoy the smell of the process… She was anxious for him to move the operation out of the house. (Perhaps an understatement!)
Meanwhile, Jean had been friends with Rose Boyle for many years. The Boyles were wine aficionados also, and the two couples lived near each other, enjoying frequent opportunities to socialize. On one such occasion, Kevin Fifo and Kevin Boyle, a.k.a. “The Kevins,” started to dream about producing a good wine with all locally grown, Iowa grapes. They felt confident that such a thing could be done, and they eventually started taking classes and experimenting together. They also started to gather information from other winemakers and the Iowa Winegrowers’ Association, which they found to be a very valuable process.
Although Kevin Fifo initially wanted to remain close to the city and an airport for work reasons, Jean was ready to move to the country and began to scout out land that would be suitable for both living and planting vineyards. Almost as soon as he agreed to move, the place they now own came on the market. They consulted with the Boyles and decided that this was the opportunity they’d been waiting for. They made the purchase and started planting the following spring, in 2004. They moved slowly at first, taking their time to learn how best to plant and care for the grapes. “We were given some very good advice,” Jean commented. “If you’re going to do this, start small.” Because they went into it cautiously, their early trial and error period wasn’t a big setback. They’ve learned a lot since their beginning, and are now one of a handful of wineries that produces and sells award winning, 100% Iowa-made wine. They do buy products from other local growers to supplement their own supply, but their standards remain very high. They have found that other Iowa wineries are supportive of one another, which they appreciate, and which benefits the Iowa wine industry as a whole. The Fifos and Boyles are happy to share their experiences with others, and in addition, they are incredibly grateful for the many helping hands and hours of work provided by volunteers. The winery simply could not function without their support.
Covered Bridges Winery is a relaxed and casual place where you can enjoy a wine experience, not just shop for wine. Those who visit have immediate access to the owners, who love to share their stories and their product. They are proud of the awards they’ve won, but they insist that their best wine is “whichever one you like to drink.”