The grape vineyard owned by Nancy and Dean Rogers of rural Scranton isn’t about wine. It’s more about enjoying the fruits of their labor by creating jelly, syrup, candy and grape pie, sharing the countryside with complete strangers and making some money to cover the venture at the same time.
“It’s a good life. We get to meet people all the time, and share what we have here,” Nancy says.
And as for the wine, they just don’t want to make alcoholic beverages out of their grapes.
John 15 Vineyard is the name of their 80-acre spread, a farm inherited by Nancy Rogers from her father. The name comes from verse John 15 in the Bible. It reads: “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit apart from me you can do nothing.”
No one lived on the farm for many years, but she and her husband would go there to relax and keep the farm maintained. One day while at the farm, Nancy and Roger almost simultaneously decided they wanted to quit their jobs in Omaha and come to live there. They did just that, working in the area until they both retired, and in the meantime, started nurturing grape vines into a vineyard.
The vines take up about a half-acre of three different types of grapes and have been there for a number of years.
“People would hear about the vineyard and want to come out for a tour, but other than the vines, we didn’t have anything else for them to do or see,” Dean explains.
That was when they decided to fix up an old barn on the property where guests could come for events, stay overnight and where Nancy could prepare her grape products in a commercial kitchen and sell them.
Last spring they opened the barn as the John 15 Vineyard Retreat Center that has an event room on the ground floor and room to sleep 12 people above in two rooms, two futons in a center living room. More people have stayed by sleeping on air mattresses. There’s even a room on the third level. Tucked away in the dormers off two rooms upstairs are small cubby holes large enough for queen-sized mattresses where children — and sometimes adults — sleep.
All that led to a new addition that opened this spring — a tree deck suspended among the trees with a tent in the middle and a picnic table at either end.
“We get very good response from our guests,” Nancy says. “People come out here wound up from their lives or the day or week, and you can just see them relax.”