Our Story (The Beginning)
Ron Snider and Steve Guikema’s relationship goes further back than beer and wine. The Hudsonville Winery and Pike 51 Brewing Co. owners have known each other for more than 25 years and first met when they were employees at the same machine shop. Ron and Steve had been home brewers since the early ‘90s and they had a dream to one day open a brewery. Both had families they needed to think of first, so they put their idea on the backburner for years. They knew that they worked well together, so a successful wine and beer business venture was definitely a possibility.
After a change in county alcohol laws; Ron, Steve and a third partner (since retired) realized there was an opportunity in the Hudsonville area for a small winery. Wine enthusiasts didn’t have many options to get local wine, so the partners created a solution. They had wine vinting and beer brewing experience, so they built a plan and went for it. Hudsonville Winery officially opened in the spring of 2009 to great public response. In fact, people were so excited about the new business that Hudsonville Winery literally sold out of wine on its opening day – without having done any promotion. The Chamber of Commerce did a ribbon cutting for the winery, but most customers already knew about it through local word of mouth. Ron and Steve had no idea of the kind of success that was on their horizon.
The brewery – which later was dubbed Pike 51 Brewing Co. – was part of the business’ five-year plan, however, Ron and Steve saw an immediate demand for a micro brewery. They noticed husbands were sitting in cars while their wives did wine tastings. The two partners knew they were leaving people behind by not having an on-site craft beer micro brewery, plus it fit both their interests to get the brewery going two years earlier than initially planned. Their first mission would be to make sure their beer was perfect before introducing it to the public.
While undergoing a business construction expansion; a professional brewer, Jeff Williams, was hired for Pike 51 Brewing Co. This prevented there being a learning curve and it allowed the brewery to produce the best quality beer in the shortest amount of time. Within its first year, Pike 51 Brewing Co. was putting out the same quality of beer as they were wine. Brewing beer is a mix of art and science. Ron and Steve say that their brewer balances that mix perfectly. The beer is true to its style, but has Jeff’s personal creative twist on it.
For years Ron and Steve split their time between the winery/brewery and their day jobs. However, in 2015 they were able to leave their day jobs to focus solely on the winery and micro brewery. The partners credit their ability to juggle both careers for so long due to their employees’ dedication and professionalism.
Since 2009, Ron and Steve have not only been able to add a brewery onto their winery, but also add to the Hudsonville and Grand Rapids craft beer and wine communities. Hudsonville Winery and Pike 51 Brewing Co. regularly support local breweries and wineries, plus participate in local events and charities. Their next big event, on June 11, 2016, is the celebration of Hudsonville Winery’s 7th anniversary and Pike 51 Brewing Co.’s 4th anniversary. A large family-friendly anniversary party; including food, drinks, music and games, will be held at the winery/brewery location (free admission).