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Emerging Entrepreneurs: Miranda Demske

WINEaLOT Vineyards in Greenleaf has seen significant growth in last two years, looks toward future expansions

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August 23, 2023

GREENLEAF – Timing is everything – Miranda Demske, owner and operator of WINEaLOT Vineyards, LLC, said she would definitely agree with that phrase.

After losing her job as a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the young entrepreneur pressed fast-forward on a “sometime in the future” dream and started her journey as a small business owner.

“We had already planted some grapevines in 2019, so after I lost my job in 2020 because of COVID-19, I decided to give myself a little time to see if I could take that anywhere,” she said. “And exactly one year later, in 2021, I opened the doors to WINEaLOT.”

A bit of history
Demske, a 30-year-old De Pere native, said a handful of years ago, she and her husband purchased a home in Greenleaf – and with it came 10 acres of hayfields.

“We started out cash cropping the hay, but we didn’t need to and we didn’t have any animals and I didn’t enjoy doing it,” she said.

Encouraged by her husband and inspired by a new-found interest in gardening, Demske transformed the hayfields into a vineyard.

Miranda Demske said she has a year of planting left until the vineyard is complete. Submitted Photo

“My husband was always interested in brewing beer, and he said, ‘why don’t you grow grapes and make wine,’” she said. “I was doing a lot of gardening, and I enjoyed harvesting and turning things into something. So, he put the idea in my head and things took off from there.”

Demske said they started by planting about 200 grapevines and have planted between 100 to 300 more each year since.

“We’ve been slowly growing the vineyard instead of all at once,” she said. “Today, we have more than 1,000 – I lost count. We have one more year of planting and then I’ll be satisfied.”

‘Tremendous growth’
Demske said the growth WINEaLOT (located at 6123 County Trunk Hwy PP in Greenleaf) has had over the last two years has been “astronomical – beyond anything we ever even imagined.”

Even before WINEaLOT Vineyards was awarded a winery permit – “the permitting process is a very large task” – Demske said the brand itself got a jumpstart.

WINEaLOT Vineyards started with about 200 grapevines. Today, Owner Miranda Demske said the vineyard has more than 1,000. Submitted Photo

“While I was working on that, I opened up an online store and sold merchandise – expanding our brand and telling the story of it,” she said. “That grew quickly. We had about 1,000 followers, but they were following a winery that couldn’t even make wine yet.”

Demske said the success of the WINEaLOT brand during that time contributed to the success the winery has had since opening.

“When I opened the doors of the winery, we already had people waiting for us,” she said. “That first year, we only had a little bit of time – opening in July – but that year was really big.”

Demske said based on the initial response, she knew WINEaLOT would soon grow out of its original space.

“We started off with a tiny little space – we only had a bar that fit maybe five or six people and then relied on people to stay outside of the building and bring lawn chairs and we didn’t serve food or anything like that,” she said. 

By that first winter, Demske said she realized how big this could grow.

“I spent the whole winter building a bigger space and renovating the original building,” she said. From there, Demske said the winery “took off in leaps and bounds.”

“I hired three or four new employees, we started getting food, we expanded our beer options, put in taps and then our live music started taking off,” she said.

After a year in business, Demske said sales were booming.

“We hit a sales number I never thought was possible,” she said. “And then actually this year’s sales are on track to 100% double last year’s.”

Since wineries are required to close at 9 p.m. in Wisconsin, Demske said they don’t host many weddings.

Even before WINEaLOT received its winery permit, the company was creating merchandise, which includes wine glasses, hats, can koozies and T-shirts. Submitted Photo

“But we do baby showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, we do all of that,” she said. “We’ve been doing a lot of birthday parties, anniversary parties, reunions, and then on top of that, we have other groups and organizations reaching out and we have fundraising events. Our schedule is already starting to fill up for next year.”

Looking back over the last two years, Demske said she’s amazed at how far the winery has come.

“I love getting all the positive feedback and all the comments – it makes me smile,” she said.

The fast-paced growth, Demske said, has also been the hardest part of small business ownership.

“The hardest part of owning the winery is maintaining and keeping up with that growth,” she said. “Sometimes, I feel the winery is going ahead of me, and I’m running to keep up – it just grew on its own.”

Proud woman-owned business
As the youngest and only (that she’s aware of) woman winemaker in Northeast Wisconsin, Demske said she’s proud of the success she’s been able to accomplish in a short period and the impression she’s had on the industry.

“I’ve added a whole new feeling and a whole new vibe to the industry – which I think comes from me being much younger and a different generation compared to the other wineries in the area,” she said. “It’s challenging the industry. I am watching some of the other wineries adding things based on what appears to be working for me, which is cool.”

Growing the business from the ground up, Demske said the winery has pretty much become a part of her life.

“My husband and I don’t have any children yet, and he has a demanding job, too – he works a lot,” she said. “It’s a part of our lifestyle.”

WINEaLOT Vineyards can fit up to 200 people inside the tasting room. Submitted Photo

Demske said the two of them have their own to-do lists and whatever those hours look like to complete those tasks – “they have to get done.”

“Some days you’re working from sunup to sundown,” she said. “Some days you get it all done in four hours. It’s whatever you have to do. Our life revolves around making sure that what gets done always gets done on time and helping each other out if something should go wrong.”

As a young entrepreneur, Demske said she encourages others to bet on themselves and take that leap into business ownership.

“The biggest advice I can give is, if you have an idea, find a way to do it,” she said. “So many people have that fear and all the concerns like, ‘How am I gonna pay for that?’ and ‘What about that?’ And the biggest thing in my mind is just do it – if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Demske said something she’s learned while building up WINEaLOT, is that if it’s meant to happen, it is easy to do.

“Having challenges and struggles and your stress, but all in all, the stars align and you end up making it happen one way or another and it just kind of flows,” she said.

WINEaLOT Vineyards produces and sells a variety of wines – including red, white and fruit options. Submitted Photo

That go-after-your-dreams attitude, Demske said, is important for younger generations.

“It’s important for the younger generations (to start businesses) – they are changing the way that businesses are done and they’re changing industries,” she said.

What’s next?
As mentioned, Demske said WINEaLOT has one more planting season in its future, but that isn’t the only thing in the plans for the business.

“We’re currently looking at possibly growing into more locations,” she said.

Demske said she’s had people reach out interested in WINEaLOT franchises.

Miranda Demske said one of the things that makes WINEaLOT Vineyards unique is it is dog friendly inside and out. Submitted Photo

“People have reached out to me asking if we can build something similar or if we can build another location by them,” she said. “So, we’re looking at growing in that way. So, that’ll be really cool.”

Demske said the kitchen is also in for some upgrades as well.

“I want to grow the kitchen a little bit more,” she said. “ We have a stone oven right now, but I would like to incorporate a wood one.”

For more on WINEaLOT Vineyards, LLC, visit

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