By Steve White firstname.lastname@example.org
Nebraska's close-knit wine industry rallies together after a devastating fire. Miletta Vista near St. Paul burned to the ground this weekend. Now others who turn Nebraska's water into wine are offering their support.
"It was a heart wrenching experience," Mick McDowell said.
The business Mick and Loretta McDowell poured themselves into for several years went up in a ball of flames. Passers-by called to warn them, but it spread quickly, even with six fire departments on scene.
McDowell said, "Very adverse weather, high winds. In 15 minutes there just wasn't anything left."
The winery owners are some of St. Paul's biggest backers
"It's just devastating," said Chamber of Commerce Executive Secretary/Treasurer Carolyn Scarborough.
Miletta Vista had tapped into a growing tourist market.
Scarborough said, "There's a lot of people that come to see winery and probably not a day goes by we receive a phone call or somebody picks up a flyer."
The winery was expecting its biggest year ever. They were adding a patio to enjoy the view, but it now stands aside the rubble.
"Right now we're looking to rebuild," McDowell said this weekend. "Got some very good employees that are encouraging us to get harvest in the next 30 days."
Nick Ryan of Prairie Creek Vineyards in Central City has pledged to help with the harvest, and so have friends from across the region.
McDowell said, "The outpouring of well wishes and offers for assistance is overwhelming."
The owners of Miletta Vista have many decisions to make in the following days, but say their first instinct is to rebuild.
"We're looking at Phoenix in the ashes right now, and we're hoping a year from now we'll be
back and better than ever," Mick McDowell said.
Nick at the winery in Central City says he'll try to help how he can, but said they don't have enough equipment for their wine plus the Miletta Vista wine so other it will likely be an industry-wide effort to help.