The City of Mineral Point is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help redevelop a former garden center building and outdoor space in the city’s central business district.
The Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support plans to turn the neglected property into a wine production site and accompanying event space.
“WEDC is committed to working with communities throughout Wisconsin to invest in enhancing their business districts,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “This project is an exciting new development for Mineral Point and will serve as a catalyst for future development and investment.”
The City of Mineral Point is partnering with American Wine Project (AWP) for the development. American Wine Project was founded in 2018 by Erin Rasmussen in partnership with her parents, David and Mary Rasmussen of Madison.
The project purchased the two-acre site in 2019. The grant will be used to cover building renovations, refrigeration installation, landscaping, site preparation and outdoor event space construction.
“During this pandemic, small communities around the state of Wisconsin have seen a hit to their local economies due to a decrease in tourism,” said Erin Hirn, Mineral Point city administrator. “The City of Mineral Point has worked at great lengths alongside the Rasmussen family to make this successful partnership between local government and small business that will add yet another exciting activity to the variety of experiences available to visitors and residents. We are very proud of our community and are excited to welcome the grand opening of the American Wine Project.”
The 6,000-square-foot building will be redeveloped into a wine production facility. Plans include refurbishing building space for tanks, barrels and bottling equipment; installing appropriate HVAC and temperature control, plumbing and electrical; and adding drive-in doors, paved outdoor space for grape delivery and concrete flooring with drain systems. AWP also plans to create a tasting room space that will include a bar, seating areas, a kitchen and retail sales displays, as well as construction of a covered porch and patio structure that will be used for outdoor event space.
"Growing up in Madison, we have always loved the Driftless Region, and we're thrilled to be a part of the Mineral Point community," said Erin Rasmussen. "We hope to become a hub of family activity for our neighbors as well as a strong tourist destination. This grant has been a tremendous boost to our development plan, and we are very appreciative."
AWP plans to create part-time and full-time job opportunities, as well as seasonal positions. Locating the winery in the central business district of Mineral Point has the potential to support other city retail and hospitality businesses and increase tourist traffic.
“I am excited to see these grant dollars flow to the district,” said state Rep. Todd Novak. “Projects supported through the Community Development Investment Grant Program help to redevelop properties in downtown areas. This project will help support local economic activity, strengthen our Main Street business community and support tourism in Mineral Point and the surrounding areas.”
Erin Rasmussen moved to Napa Valley in 2008 to pursue a winemaking career, and in 2017 returned to the Midwest to explore and focus on newer varieties of cold-climate hybrid grapes. AWP sources grapes locally and from vineyards in the region. Its wines have received positive national press, with mentions in “Wine Enthusiast magazine and the June 2020 issue of Wine and Spirits magazine.
WEDC’s CDI Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need and use of sustainable downtown development practices.
From the program’s inception in 2013 through Sept. 30, 2020, WEDC awarded nearly $26.7 million in CDI Grants to 87 communities for projects expected to generate more than $446 million in capital investments statewide.