A Story of Collaboration: Leigh’s Garden Winery and Lakestate Industries

A partnership has formed between Leigh’s GardenWinery and Lakestate Industries in Delta County .  The winery and the nonprofit organization have joined forces to create a symbiotic product that represents what the Delta County community is all about.  Cheryl Ohman, Director of Lakestate Industries, contacted Leigh Schmidt, owner of Leigh’s Garden Winery to pitch an idea to make wooden crates for wine bottles, a simple concept with significant collaborative merit.

Lakestate Industries has recently started fabricating crates of all sizes to showcase their famous “fire starters”, and almost immediately the crates became a desired item for wedding centerpieces, wedding favors, and gift baskets.  The crates are adapted to each event with customized engravings that may include name, venue, date, or logo.

The organization is a private, non-profit agency that serves people in the community with intellectual disabilities, to enhance their lives and the lives of the families who love them.  Lakestate Industries provides career exploration, job development, work training and job services to adult and student populations. They provide contracted services to businesses that make a significant impact on their community.  

“We are always looking for ways to expand and utilize our tools and materials.  We look for new projects to involve our employees,” explained Ohman.

Initially, Cheryl just requested Leigh’s permission to use his Logo.  Being the friends they are, he didn’t see an issue.  A few days later she called to schedule a meeting and said, “I need to show you something.”  The final product was an elongated crate to fit a wine bottle with Leigh’s logo. The project went a step further by creating a crate that would fit two wine bottles.

Leigh’s Garden Winery, Inc., is a small locally owned and operated winery in Escanaba , Michigan .  Leigh Schmidt is the owner and vintner.  The winery features wines made from cold climate grapes and a variety of northern grown fruit.  Their selection has grown from 3 wines to 11 wines including: Old Escanaba, a dry red that won the bronze medal in 2011 and 2012; Beka, a rose’;  C. Marie, a sweeter white; Ludington Street Blues, also a dry red; Montmorency Cherry, a semi-sweet cherry wine; and Whispering Vines Frontenac Gris. a sweetwhite.

“The crates are a great gift idea for any occasion. But what I like the most is working together with a fellow friend to expand both their products and mine,” Leigh commented.  “Collaboration is our way. We also encourage our winery visitors to take a walk and visit local businesses, and eat at our local restaurants. It is a thing that many Downtown businesses do for each other. We point visitors to which restaurants have what kind of food and prices, where to shop for additional wine related products, where local beer is made for customers.  Tourists seem to like this about our downtown shopping,” he concluded.

Leigh’s Garden Winery, Inc., is located on 904 Ludington Street Escanaba , MI 49821 Phone: 906-553-7799 http://www.leighsgarden.com

Lakestate Industries is located on 1830 North 21st Street, Escanaba , MI 49829 Phone: (906) 786-9212 www.lakestateindustries.org

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