It’s come to fruition for Tom Busch — and everyone is invited to the ribbon cutting for his new winery, Cooley Bay Winery, now open at 292 Cartwright Road in Van Alstyne.
It’s been a few years since Busch purchased the old, abandoned AT&T communications building, which had been heavily damaged in the 1990s by a tornado that blew the tower down. Busch said he looked at many locations in Van Alstyne, but saw the potential in this old building on the west side of town.
And there’s pride in the project. “Everything in this is concrete, it’s solid,” Busch said. He is basically saving the original building for his wine making, which he currently is doing at another winery, which is not only making the wine, but bottling and labeling it with his distinctive label as well.
Getting all the required permits took some time. Not only did this type of business require a revision in a city ordinance to allow wineries, but Busch had to get numerous permits. He listed some of those as being from Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, a festival permit, a carrier permit and a certification from the Food & Drug Administration. And it was all sequential, he said. First, before he bought the property, Busch worked with Van Alstyne Planning & Zoning and the City to get the ordinance changed to allow a winery. Next, he had to have the site in place to get all the state and federal permits.
“For now, all the wine will be sold here. Eventually, I may go retail with them, self-distribute to other retailers. Maybe restaurants and convenience stores,” Busch said.
For now, the winery will be open from 1-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and soon it will be available for private gatherings and special events.
Busch has added a bar area just inside the front door, decorated with a porch railing that was on his family’s home when he was growing up. “My brother had it in his garage for a long time. I got it cleaned all up, and now my dad’s spirit is here with me,” he said.
“I’m trying to make the place modern and contemporary, and my goal is to make it warm and friendly, but very modern,” Busch stated. “We stayed with what was already there, and cleaned it all up as well.”
One of those items he ‘stayed with’ is the section of the original building where all the AT&T wires went from inside to outside. That, also, has been cleaned up and holds a place of honor above the bar area.
Busch has also built a covered building furnished with numerous new tables and chairs, all ready for groups to sit together over glasses of wine for a relaxing evening. He’s not through yet, he said, and will keep expanding as time goes on.
The name Cooley Bay originated when he was playing with words that worked with ‘wine cooler.’
“It’s just a little take on ‘wine cooler,’ something I came up on myself. I will be making ‘wine cooleys.’ The labels on wine coolers on the market today said, ‘malt beverage with artificial flavors.’ Mine are all natural flavors,” Busch said. “I’ll using fruit wine and no artificial flavors, they will be whole and carbonated.”
Busch’s parents kept fruit wines around, such as cherry wine for the holidays. He uses exclusively Texas grapes, many grown in West Texas, and that’s what qualifies his wines as being true Texas wines.
He explained that when 75 percent of the grapes used to make the wine are of that variety, the wine can be named for the grapes used. For instance, his cherry wine will be referred to as natural cherry flavors.
Busch, who works as a consultant on engineering projects, has also worked to create the enology (wine making) program at Grayson College in Denison. And he has earned a wine-making certificate.
Busch will have his ribbon cutting and wine tasting from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, at the winery, with the Van Alstyne Chamber of Commerce celebrating with the ribbon cutting. He will schedule a formal grand opening after that, and plans to have a booth at the Chamber’s Fall der All festival on Oct. 21. which is taking place in downtown Van Alstyne.
Feel free to call 469-408-7425 for information, but be aware that there is no voice mail set up yet.