Then came the hard work, digging holes to plant 3,000-plus vines; putting in trellises, those infernal posts and more than 10 miles of wire; building the winemaking facility from the ground up and converting a granary into a nifty tasting room.
The vines went in during the spring of 2005, and the first harvest came in the fall of 2007 (it takes vines at least three growing seasons to produce wine-worthy grapes).
Katie eventually gave up her day job, but Mike still commutes 30 miles every day to Hutchinson -- and uses almost all his vacation days during harvest time in September.
That's when the first of two key decisions is made: when to pick the grapes. "We do it together, and go on pH, total acidity, brix [sugar levels] and taste," Mike Dickerman said. "We tend to pick when they're not as [high in sugar] as some others, and it's more on taste. If they get too ripe, they get vegetal flavors in them."
After crush and fermentation comes the second major call, the actual blending of the juice. "Katie has the better palate," Mike said. "I get it close, and then she does the final blend."
So after two successful vintages, what's in the offing?
"Probably one more expansion," said Dickerman, 48. "We hope to plant about another 10, 12 acres of vines, and then it's retirement for me."
And will daughter Alana continue this family tradition?
"It's there for her to follow if she wants, but we're not trying to push her in," Dickerman said. "But she's got a pretty good nose for an 11-year-old, I can tell you that."