The Black Squirrel Vineyard and Winery was established in 2002 with the testing of 18 cultivars for organic production. In 2011, 8 cultivars had proven suitable candidates for organic management and spray programs. Our vineyard consists of 7 1/2 acres of grapes and 7 acres of aronia berries.

Visit our Aronia Berry page for more information on this extraordinary native berry.

About the Owners

vineyard grape harvest organic charlie caldwell

Charlie harvesting grapes

Charlie and Jolene live on the home place that has been in the family for over 100 years. A 10th generation of the William Bassetts family that came over on the ship “Fortune” with Pilgrims, Charlie and Jolene (Tiarks) live on his great grandfather’s farm just ½ mile south of Quick, Iowa.

Charlie’s granddad, Thomas, started grape growing on the farm in the early 1900’s and sold grapes to the Council Bluffs Grape Growers Coop, Council Bluffs.  As WWII came to a close, the herbicide 2-4D was being used more and more on corn acres. The spray drift from the herbicide killed almost all of Iowa grape vineyards including his granddads.

Charlie’s mother started to bring back a few grapes on the farm during the 60’s. Now with 14 acres of vineyard and aronia berries, Charlie and Jolene have reintroduced wine and table grapes and aronia berries back on the farm. All of the grapes, aronia berries and orchard are certified organic. Charlie farmed the ½ section of rolling hills east of the Missouri River valley for many years. After returning from Vietnam (1968-69), Charlie graduated from college and went into teaching, retiring after 25 years.

Jolene, a natural herbiest with over 20 years’ experience in natural health, has included different modalities of energy work and natural remedial. Jolene keeps busy with her natural health business, raising 3 kids, and helping with raising milk goats, sheep, llamas, pigs, horses, and chickens.

Charlie and Jolene manage 9 varieties of grapes, aronia berries, vegetable garden, and orchard while still farming some ground.

“We are too busy to retire.”  We enjoy what we do and are never too busy to show or share what we do. So stop by; we would love for you come for a visit.