It is no secret I love living in Iron River. And, here’s another reason: White Winter Winery. I first learned about the winery while working at Northland College. It turns out the owner are alums, which lead me to their shop to do an article about their mead. Fast forward to today, and when I do drink, their Blueberry Mead is a favorite dessert drink of mine. Local berries and honey, made by a local couple in my hometown? It doesn’t get much better than that. Or does it?
Last month I did an update on their business for Business North. It started as a piece about their Green efforts and being a member of the Travel Green program in Wisconsin. But, I was also thrilled to learn that they’ve jut received their distillation permit allowing them to create a local fruit brandy. It won’t be ready for two years but in the meantime, the permit also allows for them to start distilling Eau Di Vie – which is water of life in French. The colorless spirit will provide a hint of smell and flavor of regional fruits and maybe even be ready by this holiday season… in case anyone is looking for that perfect Christmas present for me!
It is no secret that I love living on Moon Lake. In fact, life in northwest Wisconsin is pretty amazing. But, prior to my life in Wisconsin, I spent about a decade working, living and playing in Duluth. Leaving Duluth was extremely tough. There is something enchanting about the city. Many say it is the big lake. As someone drawn to water, I can relate to that. But, it is more than the world’s largest freshwater lake that makes Duluth so unique. This past summer I had an opportunity to write an article for Minnesota Business Magazine exploring why folks do business in the city. It came out last week as a 10-page spread. The online version can be read here.
The article gave me an opportunity to connect with some of the new entrepreneurs to Duluth, along with some old favorites I’ve interviewed in the past. New or old, these entrepreneurs share a passion for life outside of work that reminds me that life is about more than what you do on-the-clock. It is a refreshing and welcome message to hear from successful business owners.
The article also gave me an opportunity to interview Mayor Don Ness. My path has crossed with Mayor Ness since the early 2000s. I first interviewed him while working in news about his efforts to keep young people in Duluth through an initiative called Bridge Syndicate. Later, I played on a softball team that he occasionally played on as well called Bacchus Crew. (For those wondering what Bacchus means, think Greek Mythology and drinking). While my memory is a bit foggy, I am pretty confident we lost nearly every single game we played. But, it was a great networking opportunity that provided plenty of laughs. Even then, I admired Don’s drive (he was President of the City Council). Since then, I’ve enjoyed watching him from the sidelines making a positive impact in a place I still to this day love. Duluth is lucky to have him.
Bottom line, it take more than a big lake to make a city grand. At the end of the day, the people matter. And in Duluth’s case, there are some great entrepreneurs and leaders at the forefront paving the way for a bright future in Duluth. And that is something I was proud to write about. I hope you enjoy the article!
There’s nothing better than the smell of a freshly made wreath. Well, actually there is, but that smell is up there in terms of wonderful Winter smells. But, have you ever wondered how in the world all of these wreaths are made? This past fall I had the pleasure of touring Winter Woods in Glidden Wisconsin. The 500 person community cranks out about 100,000 wreaths, swags and centerpieces in a 6 WEEK PERIOD. It takes about 90 employees to create these beauties that are then loaded up on UPS trailers, sometimes filling two or three per day, and shipped off to various places around the United States. As for supplies, the 200 tons of boughs needed to produce the products all come from the Wisconsin northwoods.
“All of the boughs we buy are local,” Ed Schmocker, the local manager said. “They tend to come from private or national forest land. Luckily we have about one million acres of that nearby.” He will spend about $120,000 buying boughs from approximately 50 different folks in the region who either cut for fun on the weekends or as their full-time job.
Perhaps this is normal. But I found this tidbit fascinating. As someone who spends a lot of time in the woods, I often come across folks parked on the side of the road with their truck beds filled with boughs. I always sort of wondered why you’d do this. Now I get it. If you want to learn more about the company, my full article is viewable here.