Growing grapes

Bernie Rink ’48 started a vineyard in Northern Michigan more than 40 years ago

By Rachel Halle ’13

Bernie Rink ’48 never intended to start a vineyard while studying library science at John Carroll. But Rink was raised on a vineyard outside Cleveland during the ’30s, so having one of his own wasn’t that far-fetched. Nevertheless, it’s where his life has taken him. He was the first person to begin a commercial vineyard – Boskydel Vineyard – in Leelanau County in Northern Michigan in 1965. Boskydel sells wine year-round, as well as chestnuts and trees during the Christmas season.

Rink enrolled at Carroll in 1944 to work on his degree in library science. While at Carroll, Al Bungent, who taught English, became like a second father to Rink. Bungent gave Rink an unpublished manuscript, “The Elves of Bosky Dingle,” which influenced the name of Rink’s vineyard.

Rink at his vineyard

After JCU, Rink furthered his education at Western Reserve University, earning a master’s in library science. He worked as librarian for many years in Northwest Michigan before opening Boskydel Vineyard. He married a woman from Green Bay, Wis., Suzanne, in 1956 and raised their children in Michigan.

Rink says he never planned to open a vineyard, but he wanted to teach his sons values and lessons not taught in school – that was 42 years ago.

Rink’s oldest son designed the wine labels 35 years ago, when he was 18 years old. Another son also designed the vineyard’s website (, which includes information about the wine, chestnuts, and trees. There are also a few pages containing stories about Rink and the vineyard.

Contrary to almost all businesses practices, Rink doesn’t advertise his vineyard. Its reputation is spread by word of mouth and online. The vineyard received some publicity years ago when an article that mentioned Boskydel was published in National Geographic Traveler. Still, Rink likes a small customer base.

“I don’t want to grow,” he says. “It’s difficult for small business with the poor economy right now.”

Despite the lack of advertising and small customer base, the vineyard does well enough for Rink. He enjoys what he does more than living in Florida, which is where many people his age enjoy their golden years. After all, he’s always known about vineyards. JCU

For more information about Boskydel Vineyard, visit

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