Diamond Lake Orchard expanding into wine

CASSOPOLIS – After 20 years in business, the Diamond Lake Orchard is expanding its product line with wine this August.

The 10-acre orchard produces apples, cider and honey. It is owned and operated by Louie and Donna Csokasy and is located at 62116 Eagle Point Road in Cassopolis.

The process of getting into the wine making and selling business has taken the orchard two years, with the final approval coming before this August. The wine along with the rest of the orchard’s products are made on site.

“What’s important to me is that everything I sell here, I produce here,” Louie said. “I want people to come and see what a real orchard is all about.”

It takes Louie a total of four months to make the wine. As of right now, the orchard has five types available for purchase this fall. They will have apple, blueberry, cherry, Sardinian and a merlot.

“I have no clue if people will come and buy wine,” Louie said. “I don’t know if I am going to sell two bottles or 200 bottles.

The wine is European style, with the fruit wine being $10 a bottle, and the grape wine being $12 a bottle. A tasting room will be available for people to try the wine and enjoy the orchard.

Even though the orchard is bringing wine into the picture, Louie said it will still have its traditional products.

The orchard has more than 300 apple trees with 13 different types of apples. It also has three bee hives that produce 90 to 100 pounds of honey a year.

“I have people that call me every year and ask if I am open and if I have apples ready,” Louie said.

Last year was the best year the orchard had ever had, according to its owners. More than 1,000 people went to the orchard and bought products. The orchard was selling 45 boxes of apples a weekend.

Louie sees this year being even bigger based on the weather and how the growing has gone.

This year’s season will begin on Aug. 28, the weekend before Labor Day, and run until mid-November. Louie said Labor Day is the orchard’s busiest weekend all year.

Even with the business growing as quickly as it has, Louie still takes the time to remember when he gave apples away from a cart.

“I gave apples away until I had more apples than friends in the beginning,” Louie said. “Even today, I don’t look at this as a business. I do it for fun, and I say I do it for grins and giggles.”

For more information, visit diamondlakeorchard.com.

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