Tomato grower toys with the idea of a winery in Alaska

In 1974, the Anchorage Daily Times published a story with the headline “Grape Grower Goes Tomatoes.”

Now, 40 years later, it might be time to reverse that headline.

Mike Mosesian, president of Bell’s Nursery, a popular Anchorage greenhouse and gardening company, likes to joke that his “empire was built on tomatoes,” though sometime soon that empire might have a shakeup thanks to Mosesian’s recent forays into growing wine grapes.

While Bell’s might be better known for its tomatoes, Mosesian has a long history of growing grapes in Alaska. For decades a large portion of the Specking Road nursery, also home to a cafe and gift shop, has been dedicated to raising table grapes. But in recent years, motivated by a desire to “prove a point,” Mosesian has started growing wine grapes in an effort to include Alaska on the list of states that have wineries with locally grown grapes.

While Alaska is home to handful of small wineries, none grow their grapes, instead mixing berry or other juices with imported wine concentrate. Mosesian hopes to change that.