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Grandfather of northern Michigan wine industry passes away

Boskydel Vineyard Facebook
Bernie Rink passed away Nov. 29 at 92.

Bernie Rink of Boskydel Vineyard died at 92 last night.

His youngest son Andy Rink says his dad started making wine in his basement in the 50s before starting his commercial operation around a decade later.

Andy says his parents decided to go commercial because they needed something to occupy their sons and make them better men.

“He would tell customers at the winery that he put his five sons to work to put them to bed tired at night,” says Andy.

Vintner Larry Mawby calls Bernie a pioneer in northern Michigan and the founder of the industry.

“He was the first person in the area ... to decide to try to plant wine grapes and make wine here,” says Mawby. “There was no industry before Bernie.”

Mawby says Bernie was a great character with a lot of endearing qualities.

“He had a very dry wit that many people didn’t get,” says Mawby.

Andy describes his father as “a learned man.” He would quote classic works of literature or random poems from memory, and he was constantly reading.

“He was very generous, very smart man and a hell of a father I’ll tell you what,” says Andy.

The Rinks closed Boskydel Vineyard in 2017.  

Bernie Rink is survived by his five sons, Jim, David, Thomas, Chris and Andy and his siblings Dorothy and Ted.

Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.