Ron Mark is a native Iowan from the small community of Rising Sun located just east of Des Moines, Iowa. The grape vines on his parents’ acreage were the source of his very first wines. As a teenager he learned how to convert his mothers grape juice into grape wine, an experiment which became a lifelong hobby. A few years in Italy increased his knowledge of fine wines and the appreciation of the “food and wine” lifestyle. Upon returning to the United States Ron began entering his Iowa wines in the Iowa State Fair and won several awards. This turned his dream of someday opening his own winery into existence.
It was in 1988 that Ron’s wife Linda had the opportunity to transfer to a job in Des Moines and the idea of building a winery started to become a reality. Ron made a deal with Linda, stating that the only way he would leave his comfortable job in Garner, Iowa, was if he could buy some land, build a house, and plant a vineyard. Ron and Linda moved to Des Moines and bought Summerset Ridge shortly after the deal was made.
The Mark family moved onto the Summerset property in 1989 while the construction of their home was still ongoing. Ron planted his first acre of grapes that very first year. The basement of their home served as their living quarters for 4 years while construction and work on the upper levels was completed. It was in 1993 that the beautiful Summerset house was finished and the Mark’s moved upstairs. The Summerset house served as a Bed & Breakfast from 1995-2006. It now functions as The Inn at Summerset Winery and is available for weekend rentals.
In 1997 Summerset Winery officially opened. Ron planted an acre of grapes every year until the vineyard reached its current size of 12+ acres with 9 varieties of grapes. French hybrids and American varietals make up what is now the Summerset Vineyard. The wine making and processing was originally set up in the Mark’s attached garage, and the retail/tasting room was located in the walkout basement. In 2001 a spacious, upscale barn was built to house the winery.
The winery now produces 150,000 bottles of Iowa wine per year and has continued to be one of the largest producing wineries in the state. In addition, Summerset Winery is in control of over 100 acres of Iowa grapes through agreements with other farmers. Over the years Ron and Linda have taken on more staff to help run the business and now employ 9 full-time staff members and many part-time employees to help with weekends and events.
Ron and Linda’s dream of owning a winery with a quality product has become a reality. Ron has become a pioneer of the Iowa wine industry and has been an integral force behind the resurgence of the industry in the state. He continues to focus on the development of the industry. He was one of the founders of the Iowa Wine Growers Association and has served as its president. He was heavily involved in the creation of the Iowa Wine Development Commission with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Ron and Linda’s main goal was only to make a really good bottle of Iowa wine. Thanks to them, people from all over Iowa, and the United States, can enjoy a great bottle of Iowa wine too.
Summerset Winery is located just minutes outside of Des Moines, Iowa in Indianola. Summerset Winery produces award winning Iowa wine from locally grown, central Iowa grapes. The tasting room is open Tuesday-Sunday all year long and Mondays by appointment. Summerst Winery offers wine tastings and tours, and is the ideal location to host weddings, receptions, corporate events, private parties, and more.