New Wines Celebrate Traditional Tastes

Amana Colonies native David Rettig has been interested in wines and winemaking since he worked at an Amana wine shop during his college years. “It was wonderful fun,” he recalls of selling wines to tourists. But it was difficult to sell Amana wines — primarily dessert wines made from a variety of fruits — to knowledgeable wine drinkers.

In the years since, he has become one of those savvy wine consumers, learning about winemaking and developing a taste for fine dinner wines. The idea of providing an alternative wine experience to Amana tourists always appealed to him, but it was an encounter with stage 4 lymphoma in 2007 that spurred him to fulfill his vision. “It was a life-changing experience that made me realize that life is short and you shouldn’t waste it. I talked to my wife, and we said ‘Let’s do it.’”

His cancer in remission, Rettig began designing a family of wines produced in collaboration with “an outstanding local winemaker,” Jeff Quint of Cedar Ridge Vineyards. “I wanted to find a niche for myself and I wanted to change the way people think about wines from the Amanas,” Rettig explains. The resulting wines — five whites and five reds/rosés — include a range of German, French and California-style wines that combine well-known grapes with locally grown varieties to create a Midwestern taste.

Rettig asked FUEL to help him develop the identity and labels that would capture the traditional character of his wines while combining elements of both Germanic and Amana heritage. The “white cross” — a favorite symbol from his college fraternity and a nod to the religious heritage of the Amana Colonies — became the centerpiece of the logo, which incorporates the German double-headed eagle (“for me and my wife”) and a knight’s shield.

“I wanted a serious, Germanic look,” says Rettig. “The FUEL designers took it all in and came up with several alternatives. It was amazing. They understood what I was saying and they hit it with every note. The overall look is classy and signifies what I wanted to say: It’s Germanic, but up-to-date. The labels say, ‘This is a serious wine, but easy to drink and not elitist.’”

Rettig launched White Cross Cellars on May 1, 2010, operating out of a Main Amana wine shop that also offers gourmet foods and gift items. The wine is selling briskly, he says, and he’s having a blast. “I love working with the public, and the tourists are thankful for another wine option. I loved working with John and his crew at FUEL, and without them we wouldn’t be as far along as we are.”