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Rough winter, damaged Interstate exits pressure Iowa winery to shut down

Some exits on I-29 are shut down because of road damage
Posted at 6:19 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 19:19:02-04

THURMAN, Iowa (KMTV) — Interstate 29 from Omaha to Kansas City has reopened, but some exits are shut down because of road damage. A 14-year family business in Thurman, Iowa is going under because of those road closures.

The Faust family owns Sugar Clay Winery, which relies on passerby traffic. March is the start of their busy season, but few customers are visiting their restaurant.

"We kept being hopeful and optimistic that as we were open, we'd see the increase," Amy Faust said. "But that's still not happening."

Amy and Frank Faust are used to serving dozens this time of year, but that's hasn't been the case since last summer.

"It can make you cry when you start to think about it," Frank said. "We had to search our hearts to make a decision on this because we married into the winery."

But after 14 years, Sugar Clay Winery will close in July. The Fausts say they're losing almost all of their business due to the damaged exits off I-29 around Thurman and Tabor. Customers can't easily find their way to the restaurant like they used to.

"When the flood hit, nobody came," Amy said. "They didn't know how to get here. People were scared and thought they would get lost."

But the family always had a backup plan. When the floods hit back in march, an act of god turned into a sign.

"We were really at a crossroads given the circumstances and wanting to expand our other business -- we have two -- why not bring it here?" Amy said.

She has a master's degree in counseling psychology. Amy will continue her private practice seeing adults, couples and children at their winery that doubles as their home. This place she and Frank built will become a retreat space, which will still host private events like weddings.

"We're ready for a new adventure in life," Faust said.

"It might be easier running one business as compared to two. That sounds nice!"

Sugar Clay's final event will celebrate its 14th anniversary Sunday, May 26. Their largest annual event called Winestock attracts hundreds annually.

There is no completion date for reconstruction of the Thurman and Tabor exits at this time, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.