BLACK CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – A United States Army combat veteran, a neighboring vineyard owner, and a brother-in-law from Iowa stood side by side Friday harvesting grapes.
“This is the weekend we were going to harvest grapes,” says vineyard owner, Shelly Ashline.
Ashline and her husband, Eric own Shakin’ Rock Vineyard in Black Creek. When Eric had a sudden health crisis at the peak of the grape harvesting season, the whole family was prepared to watch an entire year of hard work just wither on the vine.
But friends, neighbors, out-of-state relatives, even strangers were not going to let that happen.
Brother-in-law David Poock got the ball rolling with a Facebook post in Iowa. Soon calls started flooding in.
“Eric put his heart and soul into this vineyard,” explains Poock. “We’re not going to let that go to waste.”
When a local motorcycle club of combat veterans heard, through the grapevine, the Ashline’s son is also a veteran, they didn’t hesitate to jump right in and start picking grapes. Even a neighboring vineyard owner stopped by to help with the harvest.
“Friends have been coming and co-workers have been here,” says Ashline.
People from all around came to this small country vineyard at a moment’s notice. They volunteered for manual labor, picking grapes by hand and by all accounts, seemed to be enjoying it.
“There’ve been a lot of people who’ve given up a couple of days of vacation to come up here, drive five or six hours to come help,” adds Poock. “The local veterans, local friends – family just to help out and make sure this gets done.”
For the Ashline family, words of appreciation just don’t seem to be enough.
“I just can’t even express the gratitude and the amazement at how fast this is going and can be delivered to the winery,” says Ashline.
For the volunteers, words of appreciation just aren’t needed.
“It shows you what America’s got for good people left in the heartland,” explains Poock. “It doesn’t matter what’s on TV, it’s just good people doing good things and paying it forward to others.”
Volunteers say, thanks to all who came out to help, the grapes will be harvested and ready to go to market by midday on Saturday.