About a year ago, Bob Bonga, owner of Cascade Winery
in Kentwood, was introduced to the Rockford business community and its Chamber of Commerce. Bonga was impressed by how closely the businesses work together, and how, in turn, the community supports their diligence. The warmth and loyalty of the community convinced him and his wife, Rose, to open a sister winery in downtown Rockford. "We wanted to be part of this exciting business atmosphere and saw a definite need for something like a winery in this community."
Planned for a late August/early September opening, Kayla Rae Cellars
, named after the Bongas' granddaughter, will be located adjacent to the White Pine Trail at 31 Courtland St., just north of Arnie's Old Mill Restaurant. Currently, the Bongas are remodeling the 2,000-square-foot interior with soft lighting and subtle colors to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. According to Bonga, "Karen Grossman has been hired as manager and plans are in the works to hire two or three part-time people who, like Karen, love wine and love people."
Although related to Cascade Winery, Bonga says, "Kayla Rae Cellars will have its own uniquely different blends. It will also carry different ciders than those offered at the Cascade Winery. What you taste at Cascade Winery won't be the same as what you experience at Kayla Rae Cellars."
Kayla Rae Cellars plans to be open noon to 8 p.m. daily, although evening hours may be extended. Bonga wants "to see how the crowd is and let the customers determine what's needed."
Source: Bob Bonga, Cascade Winery
Writer: Susan Julien Larimore, Freelance Reporter
Image courtesy of Kayla Rae Cellars