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Grandfather of northern Michigan wine industry passes away

flickr user: alan levine

Bernie Rink of Boskydel Vineyards died at 92 last night.

His youngest son Andy Rink says his dad started making wine in his basement in the 50s before starting his commercial operation around a decade later.

Andy says his parents decided to go commercial because they needed something to occupy their sons and make them better men.

“He would tell customers at the winery that he put his five sons to work to put them to bed tired at night,” says Andy.

Vintner Larry Mawby calls Bernie a pioneer in northern Michigan and the founder of the industry.

“He was the first person in the area ... to decide to try to plant wine grapes and make wine here,” says Mawby. “There was no industry before Bernie.”

Mawby says Bernie was a great character with a lot of endearing qualities.

“He had a very dry wit that many people didn’t get,” says Mawby.

Andy describes his father as “a learned man.” He would quote classic works of literature or random poems from memory, and he was constantly reading.