WEST DES MOINES – A local store known for specializing in Iowa products has signed an exclusive agreement with a Dubuque winery to offer custom labeled wines in the Des Moines area market.
Kelly Sharp, owner of the Heart of Iowa Market Place, said the arrangement with Stone Cliff Winery fits into her strategy of offering more Iowa products to corporate clients. “We have a lot of fun serving our retail clients who come to our store in historic Valley Junction but a large and growing part of our business is with the corporate community,” she said. “Corporate customers need products that really help them stand out from the crowd and our new partnership with Stone Cliff Winery will give them another opportunity to really do that.”
Noting that his wines are sold under the Stone Cliff label stores by 800 outlets around the state, winery owner Bob Smith said, “We’ve been looking for the right partner in the Des Moines market to offer custom labels for walk-in customers and commercial accounts because that’s a very different product from our retail sales. When I walked into Kelly’s business, I said, ‘This is it.’ She knew exactly the plan we had in mind. In fact, her plan was our plan.”
He continued, “Heart of Iowa Market Place will be the only store in the Des Moines market doing our custom labels, and they’ll be able to do whatever the customer wants. They’re just perfect for Stone Cliff Winery and I see this as a long-term and very successful partnership.”
Custom labels are popular with individual wine connoisseurs for special events such as weddings and anniversaries and businesses that want to feature their own brand for special occasions such as customer appreciation events and holidays.
Stone Cliff Winery, which produces 11 different wines, is owned and operated by Smith and his wife, Nan. They had lived in Colorado but returned to Nan’s hometown of Dubuque to raise their two daughters. They had intended to grow field crops when they purchased the Stone Cliff Farm near Durango but opted instead to grow grapes. They planted their vineyard in 1995 and had their first product offering in 2001. Their 10,000-square-foot production and tasting room has been located in the historic Star Brewery Building in the Port of Dubuque along the Mississippi River since 2007.
The Heart of Iowa Market Place, which opened in 1986, specializes in Iowa souvenirs and gifts. The store, located at 211 Fifth St., West Des Moines, sells gift baskets of Iowa products plus John Deere, Hawkeye and Cyclone merchandise. Its most-popular product, homemade fudge, is closely trailed by products that promote Iowans’ penchant for pigs, cows and corn.