Featured Image: Robert Lewis stands at the entrance of the property that will become Heart Gates Vineyard.
Robert Lewis wears a lot of hats. He’s a realtor, a personal finance manager, a faculty member at Remington College and a Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Diplomat. But, when I asked Lewis what qualifications he possesses to build a vineyard and winery in Shreveport, he offered up one qualification above all others.
“Having an Italian heritage growing up, I’ve always had an interest in food and wine,” Lewis told me. “Whenever we’d go to a restaurant or get together to eat, there’d be 18 or 20 of us. It just occurred to me: ‘I want to build a place where my family can go.’ And it kind of snowballed from there.”
Heart Gates Vineyard, the winery and vineyard that Lewis hopes to open at 6737 Greenwood Road in Shreveport, is one of two dozen Louisiana-based businesses (along with Shreveport’s Maccentric) competing in the $25,000 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. To win the contest, businesses need to collect votes on social media. Lewis is asking locals to vote once each day in order to help build his dream: a vineyard, winery and event venue. Voting ends on June 13.
But will wine grapes even grow in Shreveport? Lewis says “yes,” citing the large number of vineyards in East Texas (according to the Piney Woods Wine Trail website, there are three vineyards in Tyler, Texas alone) and listing local resources such as the LSU Ag Center, West Monroe’s Landry Vineyards and local master gardener’s clubs as resources that he’s called upon in his efforts.
“Typical wine grapes won’t grow in our climate, but I’ve done a lot of work to ensure that this project is viable,” Lewis said. “I’m a nerd, so I don’t have a problem teaching myself. And I really do love Shreveport, and I want us to have the kinds of things – like a local vineyard and winery – that will help retain young professionals.”
In his own words, Lewis admits that people call him crazy all of the time for wanting to build a vineyard. But how many cool things around here wouldn’t exist if some possibly crazy person hadn’t decided to build them?
If you’d like to vote for Heart Gates Vineyard to win the $25,000, you can click here or use the widget below:
Like Heart Gates Vineyard on Facebook to keep up with updates on the project.