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Salt Lake County's only winery will close its production facility and tasting room at the end of the week.
Several factors have contributed to the closure of Kiler Grove Winemakers, said Michael Knight, who co-owns the winery and its corresponding California vineyard with his wife, Elva, and brother-in-law, David Olsen.
The pending retirement of Olsen, who lives in California and keeps track of the vineyard located in Kiler Grove Canyon, near Paso Robles is the main reason the business is shutting down, said Knight.
If the Utah business was booming which it's not Knight might reconsider the closure. "We have been holding our own and paying our bills, but we really haven't grown," he said during a recent telephone interview.
Kiler Grove opened in 2011 at 53 W. Truman Ave. (2330 South). The South Salt Lake property includes a tasting room and package agency that allows those 21 and older a chance to try samples of the Kiler Grove wines before buying on site.
Knight blamed some of the slow sales on lack of support from Utah restaurants that would not add Kiler Grove products to their wine lists. He said one of the best ways for small wineries to get the word out is through restaurants, where patrons want to try new products, especially those made locally.
Eight restaurants, including Log Haven, Copper Onion and Sea Salt in Salt Lake City, have been loyal customers, he said.
Utah's quirky liquor laws also didn't help. While Kiler Grove made several red and white wines, only three grenache, trebbiano and zinfandel were available on a regular basis at the state-owned liquor stores, Knight said. The remaining wines were available only by special order or at the South Salt Lake winery, in an industrial area and out of the way for many customers.
Several weeks ago, Knight put the building up for sale and announced the closure to customers through email and Facebook. He also stopped sending cases of wine to Utah's state-owned liquor stores.
Since then, sales have been brisk at the winery as customers visit one last time to stock up. Only a few cases of various wines remain for purchase, Knight said. The winery and tasting room will keep its regular hours until the end of the week: Wednesday-Saturday, noon to 6:30 p.m.
Knight may be able to work with the new building owner and "re-emerge in a different configuration, possibly as an appointment only winery," he said. "But the tasting room goes away no matter what."