When John Sinnott, D.O.’68, began planning for his 2009 retirement, he thought it would be fun to try growing and selling grapes. He’d served five generations of patients with his partner, Carl Toben, D.O.’70, over nearly four decades of general practice in Ida Grove, IA. Knowing that grape vines take at least three years to produce, in 2006 Sinnott and his wife, Lenee, planted 100 Marechal Foch grape vines on a southern slope overlooking the western Iowa town.
Those vines produced more than grapes. They grew into Old Town Vineyard and Winery, a three-acre business that opened on Memorial Day weekend last year. “We almost sold out of wine,” Sinnott says.
Most people don’t associate grapes and wine with Iowa. “People will be driving by and they’ll pull over – ‘We’ve got to check that out,’” he says. They discover a variety of red and white wines, available for sampling in Old Town’s tasting room.
While being in the wine-making business is very different from family practice, Sinnott greatly enjoys the similarity – getting to meet and interact with lots of people, albeit none of whom are sick.
“When people visit us, everyone is feeling good and having fun,” he says. “They’re delighted to have that wine-tasting experience.”