The main goal of the Highland Community College Viticulture and Enology program has always been to educate and help grow the industry. Mostly, HCC endeavored to teach about growing grapes and making wine. After doing that for a couple years, we wanted to know what else we could do to help. In 2014 HCC purchased a vine transplanter to help plant grapes faster and with less hand-labor. The next goal was trying to find a way to assist the wineries, and that’s when the reality of a business incubator began to fall into place.
The idea of a winery incubator goes back to the inception of the program with lofty goals and “wouldn’t it be cool if…” kinds of brainstorming. In spring 2016, HCC acquired additional winemaking equipment from a fellow VESTA partner in Oklahoma. Then in fall 2016 HCC received grants from USDA and Kansas Department of Agriculture to hire a fulltime winemaker / enology instructor as well as to purchase the equipment necessary to “eventually, someday” open a winery incubator. Over the winter of 2016, HCC was approached with the opportunity to purchase a property through a land-swap, and this particular building was perfectly located for such a facility. Suddenly, all of the pieces for the incubator were falling into place!
In 2017, architects and contractors were hired. We sifted through the endless possibilities for layout and structure and came up with what we think is the best possible winery this new building could offer. In fall of 2018 construction began, and in late summer of 2019 the incubator opened its doors for startup wineries to move in. It is our goal to help wineries begin operations, build clientele and inventory, and then eventually move on to become stand-alone wineries, making room for new entrepreneurs to move in and get started.
As of the fall of 2020, 456 Wineries has five total wineries in the facility. 456 Wineries is the first and (so far) the only winery business incubator east of the Rocky Mountains. We hope to help grow the Kansas grape and wine industry and that other states might follow our lead to grow their local industry too.
Below is a series of images from various stages of construction.
Thanks for visiting 456 Wineries! Come see us at 503 Miller Drive, Wamego, KS 66547 or give us a call at 785-456-WINE.