Link to the original Article from news.hjnews.com
By John Zsiray staff writer
Nov 4, 2017
Six years ago in an effort to diversify their farm, the Meikle family began offering u-pick berries and grapes on the family land nestled above Hyde Park. On Saturday, they continued that diversification with the opening of an event space.
The Vineyards at Mt. Naomi Farms celebrated the completion of a hand-hewn white pine timber frame barn with an open house and ribbon cutting over the weekend as they look to generate interest in the unique venue.
Brenda Meikle, owner and manager, said with one of the biggest vineyards in Northern Utah the family decided the views from the third generation farm needed to be shared.
“What we really wanted to do as we go into the future is to have some place where people can gather and be part of the farmland and have a good time,” Meikle said. “At this point, in all the chaos that is going on, let’s just have some place were you can come and have a good time.”
The land, which is adjacent the SV Hill at the end of 4400 North, was purchased by Keith Meikle nearly 75 years ago and has served as a turkey farm, dairy, and the u-pick and vineyard business, Meikle said.
Keith Meikle said when his grandfather bought the land was bought the land in the 1940s, people thought he was crazy because the ground was so rocky.
“My grandfather bought this property in the 40s and everyone in Smithfield thought he had lost his marbles,” Keith said. “It was all terrible rocky ground. We didn’t buy a single rock for the barn; they all came from us picking them up. If your name was Meikle, you picked up rocks.”
The barn’s foundation and many of the embellishments within the interior are hand-stacked rocks from the Meikle property, creating towering walls and decorative touches not seen in most other construction currently.
Both Brenda and Keith said that when discussing the barn, they knew it had to be something rustic and classic looking to be warm and inviting for events and guests.
“We knew we wanted to build an old-style, real barn, not a faux barn that was stamped out and had no soul. It needed to have a soul. Everything had to be authentic to go with it,” Keith said.
Touring the high-ceilinged barn brings a warm feeling as guests are welcomed into a an open space that can seat nearly 300 and is also equipped with a bar space and catering kitchen.
Winding its way into the solid beam rafter is a spiral staircase that leads to two dressing rooms that can be used for wedding parties to dress prior to winding back down to their nuptials.
“We wanted a space that was open to all and inviting for all activities,” Brenda said. “We will be open to weddings, corporate events and whatever people would like to fill the space with year-round.”
Incorporating the history of the farmland and making people feel connected to the land extends to the restrooms, where the sink basins are hand-crafted from harrow discs found on the property.
“There is something about being out in farmland,” Brenda said. “The vineyard along with being surrounded by farmland make this place special. Being in the productive land and seeing things grow and being part of the process, that is cool.”
While the vineyard doesn’t make its own wine, they do grow several varietals on their 10 acres, and many home vintners in Cache Valley purchase grapes from the farm.
“Wine grapes make great juice, because to make great wine you need great juice,” Keith said. “We have varieties that people would recognize, like Cabernet Franc and Reisling. There is a Crimson Cabernet which is a Cabernet Sauvignon variant that will grow here.”
Keith said Cache Valley has a great climate for growing grapes, and with hybridization of the varietals and the warming temperatures, they can now grow a wide range of grapes.
With a west-facing slope, the temperatures can be upwards of 5- to 10-degrees warmer than the valley floor, providing for longer sun exposure for the grapes. Adding to the complexity of the grapes is Cache Valley’s temperature fluctuation from morning to night, Keith said.
“The diurnal swing in the temperature is what gives the grapes deeper flavor. It builds the sugars and builds that flavor, and with the cooler temperatures in September it finishes the process off,” Keith said.
As the Meikles move forward, both are optimistic of the farm’s future, and they hope to secure farm legacy as more and more land is developed around the valley.
“The valley is changing. We lose rental acreage every year, so growing hay and wheats in our area is destined to wither where you can’t do that as a full-time job,” Keith said. “If you are in the ag industry and keep getting surrounded by development and think you are going to continue doing what you are doing, you are kidding yourself.”
From behind the wheel of an old airport parking lot shuttle bus, Keith reminisced about his grandfather and father, Jon Meikle, and the work they put in making the property what it was.
The irony of building a vineyard barn and his grandfather’s purchase of rocky ground is not lost on Keith, but hopes his grandpa would be proud.
“He was known as someone thinking outside the box, so I’d like to think he is proud of it because we are doing something different. We aren’t just sitting on what we have and doing something to preserve the land,” Keith said.