Pruning Vines in Challenging Conditions With Michelle and Tyler Bredeson of Bold North Cellars


by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Apr 21, 2022

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Last Updated on April 21, 2022 by rise25

Michelle and Tyler Bredeson

Michelle and Tyler Bredeson met at the University of North Dakota, later married, and brought together a similar passion and love for wine, family, and fun. They have been working at the winery since 2008 and purchased the winery in 2022. In those 13 years, they helped scale the business to include on-site grapes from Minnesota, wine sold in over 500 stores, over 34,000 gallons of wine produced annually, and tripled their staff. The couple also included an addition of a brewery, 22 Northmen Brewing Co., and an events center, expanding Carlos Creek Winery into Bold North Cellars. 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Michelle and Tyler Bredeson describe experimenting with vine varietals in an acidic soil
  • The way a little inventive thinking produced a delectable rosé
  • How combining a winery and a brewery created a more inclusive experience for consumers
  • Tyler explains the fermentation process to build the character of their beer
  • How Michelle and Tyler were able to adapt their wine and beer tastings during the pandemic 
  • Michelle shares how they are connecting with the community through their event space
  • An in-depth look at the Grape Stomp festival and competitions
  • What do Michelle and Tyler have in their cup?

In this episode with Michelle and Tyler Bredeson

Are you looking for a unique way to connect even deeper with your customers? What if there was an all-inclusive winery and brewery that offers not only delectable drinks but scrumptious meals for your family to enjoy? 

Michelle and Tyler Bredeson have mastered growing vines in the acidic and cold soil of the North — and the results are welcoming, full-flavored varietals. Through the rapid growth of their wine brand, they were able to include a brewery to cater to all palates. Michelle and Tyler decided to create a comprehensive and beautiful location for a wedding venue to connect with their customers on a deeper level. 

On this exciting episode of the Legends Behind the Craft, Drew Hendricks sits down with Michelle and Tyler Bredeson from Bold North Cellars, to discuss creating an all-inclusive experience of wine, beer, and food. Michelle and Tyler talk about growing grape varietals in challenging soil, how to connect with customers through tastings, and tips for cultivating a memorable space.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show

Drew Hendricks  0:19  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here and the host of Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine craft beverage industry. Past guests of Legends Behind the Craft include Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards, Joe Wagner, of Copper Cane Wines and Provisions, Guillaume Fabre of Clos Solene. If you haven’t listened to any of these yet, be sure to check them out and subscribe. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. When that highlights your authenticity tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash the revenue. Go to barrelsahead.com to learn more. I’m super excited to talk today with Tyler and Michelle Bredeson of Bold North Cellers, Bold North Cellers the winery brewery woodfired pizza oven and Event Center located in Alexandria, Minnesota, Tyler’s logistics and operations guru. Well Michelle focuses on customer facing aspects of business. Together they’ve created this must see destination in the heart of the Minnesota Lynx country. Welcome to the show Tyler Michelle. Hi, thanks for having us. Well, thank you so much for being on so I gotta go right off the bat minute. Alexandria, Minnesota. Tell us about the wine landscape there.

Michelle Bredeson  1:33  

Well, so Carlos Creek Winery was our original brand under Bolton, our sellers. And this winery began in 1999. So it was one of the first five in the state. Yeah. And but now I think in Alexandria lakes area, we have, oh, probably about seven different wineries now. So it’s definitely the Minnesota wine industry has been growing rapidly over the last five years. I’d say. About five years ago, there were about seven new some wineries now we’re over 100. So

Drew Hendricks  2:08  

that’s amazing. And you’re the first five and so the Alexandria got the first ABA in Minnesota, I think back in 2005. What, um, what before we get into that what brought you guys into the wine industry.

Tyler Bredeson  2:20  

So my parents actually started the journey to Carlos Creek, they were looking for a business at that time to essentially retire into, they had both done different things in their career, and we’re looking for kind of a new, a new venture. I was graduating from college at the time, the show was a year younger than I and I had been helping them a little bit with some research on not only this winery, but they then looked at some other case studies in other states to look at what kind of experience fit what they thought they could be most successful at. And so I’m looking to that I got interested in it. And I had a very, very different plan at the time in terms of what I was going to do after I graduated. But what were you gonna do? I, I was actually headed to law school. So yeah, I was here to law school. And so I stayed that for a year to say, Alright, does this you know, this is something that I think I could make a life out of to be interested in. So I worked here for a year, really, really started to love it. And then Michelle came down the next year after she graduated.

Drew Hendricks  3:22  

Michelle, what were your plans before the wine industry?

Michelle Bredeson  3:26  

Um, I didn’t really have a whole lot planned. I was the I went to school for marketing. So it really was a natural segue, because at the time, when I was graduating, it was perfect time for them because they were looking at starting an event business here. So they hadn’t done events previous to that. And the previous ownership had a bunch of horses actually, that they raised out here. So there’s there was like a 9000 square foot horse barn that then Tyler’s family converted into the Event Center and so they were looking for somebody just start the wedding and event business out here. So they asked if I’d be interested and I was like, Sure. Yeah, weddings. That sounds great. So I was wanting to do and yeah, started doing weddings. That was great.

Drew Hendricks  4:15  

That’s amazing. There’s a lot of wedding event business down here where we’re located in the tequila Temecula area. It’s a it’s a great no between the you know, the wine and the events and the beers to tell me about the going back to the wine. Tell me about like how your your parents started the were there. Were there vines on the land before they bought the

Tyler Bredeson  4:36  

property? There were Yeah, the winery before had been operated in a very, very different way than it has come to be now it was much more of a cottage kind of a project for the previous owners who started it. And so there were vines here. There weren’t a lot and the the extent to which local local vines local wines and grapes were used in the product. Shouldn’t as part of the fabric of the of the winery was not as much as it is at this point. And so we kind of came in and knew that that was something that we thought was really important was to emphasize Minnesota production. To make that more part of what we’re doing is our production. Now that we weren’t going to completely move away from things that were out of state, but just we wanted to make sure that that that Minnesota product held its own place. And so there was work to be done, there was a lot more vines that need to be planted, some that needed to be kind of refurbished from the condition that they were in. So that took a number of years for us to figure out what worked, what didn’t different varieties, some that had been developed by some private growers, some developed by the University of Minnesota, etc, etc, that we were then experimenting with and still experimenting with.

Michelle Bredeson  5:46  

Yeah, it was actually kind of a cool time, I think, to be coming into the industry, because it was, you know, more wineries had been popping up over the years. But it was a big boom in grape cultivation. So there were a lot more grape growers coming out that, you know, obviously, the University of Minnesota has developed some of these grape varieties. But then also, like Tyler was saying independent grape breeders were really starting to release some really cool, unique varieties that previously, most of the varieties that we did grow here were so high and acid that you’d have to really balance that acid out with sweetness. So you know, not not letting the fermentation go all the way to dry. But with some of the new varieties, they hold on to their sugars a lot better. And were a little bit lower and acids. So you’re able to create some more dry wines with the varieties that were being developed. So it’s kind of a

Drew Hendricks  6:42  

cool, there’s some of those varieties,

Tyler Bredeson  6:45  

as well, one of the big ones that it has still had his challenges, especially as far north as we are, but but certainly is an important grape variety. In Iowa, large sections of Minnesota, there’s ones people growing on the East Coast is market market was a huge one for the development of the grape industry in non traditional areas, but also just for the great program for University of Minnesota. And as Michelle was alluding to a lot of these varieties, Frontenac was another one that came earlier on and maybe didn’t see as much popularity, but we think it has a very, very strong, strong presence when done in the right kind of a wine. But as those were coming in, and as we purchased the winery in 2008 there was a lot of other wineries and vineyards that transitioned from that kind of a hobby into an actual full fledged business in a real industry. And so it was a fun time to be a part of that you’re still are a lot of small wineries that are more run as you know, it’s a couple that are doing it on the side, that kind of thing. But there’s now you know, a dozen or more that you would call a really full fledge realize businesses that are making a big goal of it. Yeah,

Drew Hendricks  7:58  

what were some of the challenges Oh, sorry.

Michelle Bredeson  8:00  

I just say a couple other cool varieties, too, that, I just want to point out some that I really like cheat on me. It’s a wide variety that was developed in Minnesota, but it’s kind of this really nice Sauvignon Blanc style. So it has a lot of citrus notes to it. Some minerality it has little floral, it’s a really, it’s a really kind of cool grape that when harvested slightly early, it gives you a lot more that somnium blanc taste. So and it’s been the cool thing too about the industry here is that it, it’s not settled yet. So we’re still experimenting a lot with how to utilize some of these varieties. So, you know, some years when we get the vintage in, we’ve gotten it maybe ripe and we find that maybe that’s not the best expression of that grape. So maybe we need to harvest that early next year. And there’s still a lot of there’s not any set, like this is the way you should do it with this grape. So we don’t have some of that rich heritage or like that set recipe. We didn’t do a lot more experimenting and you know experimenting with barrels and what flavor flavors from the barrels are going to bring out the best flavors in the wine so it’s kind of still kind of cool to be able to mess with that stuff a little bit.

Drew Hendricks  9:17  

So like with the whole Minister, I mean, you get to nap and it’s kind of found its footing you kind of know what a Napa Valley Cabernet tastes like. It’s exciting to be in regions like outside of the the you know, the Napa Sonoma area. What when Minnesota wet Tell me a little bit more about like front the front snack and market like what would what do you envision the the Minnesota style evolving into we’re kind of settling into

Tyler Bredeson  9:45  

that’s I mean, it’s a loaded question a little bit. A lot of people are gonna give you have very different answers on it. I think taking nothing away from the the the red varieties and the dry red varieties that are produced here. I think one of the things in Minnesota does best is actually Ay Ay, ay ay dry or semi dry white wine. Oh, there also are some really cool blushes too. But the piece to me that Michelle just mentioned. I mean, everybody has their different favorites and whatnot. Right? So this is not doesn’t mean that is the be all end all. But that is when produced correctly, I think one of the strongest wines that Minnesota can produce, I don’t mean necessarily ours, I just mean that grape can grow well here and do a very good job of standing on its own. In that style. Michelle mentioned Sauvignon Blanc, but people that want that crisp, slightly acidic, really kind of clean drinking white wine. It’s it’s a great choice.

Michelle Bredeson  10:41  

And there was a new grape. Itasca was just released, was it three years

Tyler Bredeson  10:46  

ago? Yeah, that’s when people really started making big plantings of it. Yeah.

Michelle Bredeson  10:49  

So we actually have our first vintage of that coming out this year. And that also is coming out really nice. So I think that’ll be another new variety that will be fun to work with in the future. Another, just going on that experimental things still, but we were approached by a private grape developer to plant some of his grapes, one of them being crimson Pearl, which is a red variety. And when we first got it, we started making it as a dry read. But then one time, we started to experiment, let’s try a rose out of it. And we made a very small batch. But when that came out, it was amazing. And so now all of our crimson rose that we’ve been propagating throughout the years, we have how many acres of that one? No, I think we’re approaching five of that. Yeah, so and we use all of that for our crimson rose day now, because it just it expresses so well as a rose a versus a dry red, or at least we think it’s a little bit better. That way.

Tyler Bredeson  11:49  

You do some of the some of the acidity challenges, then the grapes in Minnesota, but everywhere across the northern tier of the US has that has similar similar challenges to that. So I think that the wines that balance well, with a little bit of an elevated acidity level are always good choices, not that you can’t do some some great dry red wines. But there always is a little bit more work to getting those to be, you know, in a way that people aren’t, are used to drinking drier and wines. And that’s, that’s part of the problem itself. That phrase is you look at how established wines are. And whether you’re talking about California or, or areas over in Europe, or whatever, the acidity level of some of the dry red varieties here is very different. And it makes a different wine. And some people really, really like it, some people maybe aren’t as into it. And part of that is preference. And some of that is just inexperienced with it, too. So there’s a lot of challenges there. Yeah, and

Michelle Bredeson  12:48  

I guess for listeners to something that might help them relate a little bit is that the acidity in our wines is very similar to what you would find in like German wines or French wines. It’s gonna be very similar to that kind of style of wine.

Drew Hendricks  13:04  

As you’re describing it as kind of thinking of some of these like steely Austrian wines. Yeah, yes. Yeah, exactly. Gruner Veltliner something. Yep. That was it. Now, that kind of brings up with that northern climate, are you having to put it on some special root stocks for the soil? Or?

Tyler Bredeson  13:21  

No, we actually really doesn’t work for us to do anything with rootstock because we’re cold enough. And we have deep enough frost here that everything has to be a, an actual hybrid variety. So So grasping anything like that it really doesn’t work because it would be great, but the top dies back every year, even if your rootstock is remaining viable, the top itself dies.

Drew Hendricks  13:48  

Okay?

Tyler Bredeson  13:50  

You have to do actual hybrids. And so that’s where things like frontenacs Like Mark cat, some of the others Michels have mentioned too, is they’re cross bred. So everything is that new variety where we don’t have anything that’s tied to another.

Drew Hendricks  14:04  

Okay, so you’re okay, that, that actually answers the question that last night, I had a friend in town, went to high school together, he lives in Minneapolis. I was talking to him about the wines. He is very into the beer industry there. But we were we were talking about the deep freezes and how the vines have to be a little bit different. But he couldn’t answer the question. So I’m glad you guys did.

Tyler Bredeson  14:24  

Yeah. So that’s where you see completely different names than what you’re used to another areas. People have tried things like rowing even some of the hardier of your traditional European varieties. And at least where we are there, they’re not successful. I know some people in extreme southern Minnesota Iowa on on a few different varieties have had some luck, but it’s very spotty.

Michelle Bredeson  14:48  

Yeah, and those those that have planted those even farther south, what they do is they actually bury the vines. So you have to take everything down and bury them over To survive, so, because yeah, if you let that if you let the tarp die off, then you have to grow for another three years before you’re gonna get that harvest. And so that’s happening every year, then obviously, you’re not getting any harvest ever.

Drew Hendricks  15:12  

Sure, sure. And you have like you’re at a, you have 160 acres, how many under vine? That’s about 2525. That’s and then the other thing I was so look into your inventory, you also do some hybrid fruit wines. What do you use, like the blueberry one looks particularly interesting to me. We have a local producer here that does a dry blueberry wine.

Michelle Bredeson  15:34  

Yeah, so our fruit wines are a little bit different there. It’s all it’s a white wine base. And we add fruit back to it. We don’t ferment the like the blueberry or the peach. So we add that in after fermentation. So it’s a little bit of a different process, but gives you a really deep fruit flavor. When you do it that way. I can imagine

Drew Hendricks  15:57  

that the dried blueberry went ahead. Hungry Hawk winery here, they actually fermented it just the the blueberries just like grapes. And it turned into almost like a very Pinot Noir. Like, yeah, I ended up selling it for a few years. And it was it was very surprising.

Tyler Bredeson  16:15  

Yeah. Yeah, blueberry, it’s really cool that they’re having been successful that blueberry is a tough fruit to maintain blueberry flavor through a fermentation of because a lot of the flavors tied up in, in the skin of the fruit. You don’t have I mean, you’ve eaten blueberries, you kind of know when you bite into it, that’s where you’re getting it, the flushes is more mild, at least are significantly more than that skin is. And so under fermentation, depending on your methods, it’s tricky.

Drew Hendricks  16:43  

Okay, on that he only did it once. So that process something about that every time we go back asking when the next one’s coming, he’s like, nope.

Michelle Bredeson  16:54  

It was one of those like little projects where you just try it out and probably took a lot of effort, but came out amazing. So yeah, I get those sometimes.

Drew Hendricks  17:03  

So with the with the wines, you also run a brewery out of the same location or?

Tyler Bredeson  17:08  

Yeah, yeah, property. Yep. Same property, different building. But yeah, that was started in the late spring of 2019.

Drew Hendricks  17:18  

And what brought the desire to have a brewery on there, just make it just a cohesive events? Kind of a one stop shop?

Tyler Bredeson  17:26  

Essentially, yeah, I mean, it’s an idea that we had kicked around for a while there was a period of expansion that we went through in the winery, where we grew fairly rapidly from about 2012 through 2017 or so. And so during that period, it just didn’t feel right. We had looked at it and every year kind of talked about, is this the right year, is this the year we kind of want to we want to start that program. And when we were changing and growing so much just didn’t feel like we would do it justice. So 2000, late 17. We started talking about it, we planned a lot through 18. And then started construction late 18 finished up in early 2019. And yeah, you hit the nail on the head. I mean, it’s it’s really to not only expand what we were able to do and experience as a craft beverage product, but also to, you know, expand that from a customer standpoint where now people come in not everybody likes wine, and everybody likes beer, but no generally speaking, everybody can find something that they like and can connect with.

Michelle Bredeson  18:23  

Yeah, and it kind of our big thing here is we want to be a place where, where people feel like they can come and celebrate, you know, whatever life’s events, they’re celebrating, so whether it’s like a new job, or, you know, co workers going out for a night or you just had a new baby, and it’s your first time adventuring from the house, like we want to be that place everyone feels comfortable coming to it’s fun. There’s beer, there’s wine, there’s pizza, we have live music every Friday, Saturday year round. And so we really, like make it like this celebratory plays, that is also, you know, educational in some regards. And then also local. And we really try and push that, you know, farm to glass sort of thing in the wine side of things. But yeah,

Drew Hendricks  19:09  

I love that idea. I mean, I wish more wineries out west, we’ll be doing more of this kind of holistic type of experience. We’re still we’re still a little bit of aristocracy and a lot of our, our wineries. They gotta get more fun if they’re gonna attract the newer, the newer consumer. And I think the breweries we’ve seen it a little bit more. We’re going to visit the brewery and someone in the party just doesn’t like beer. So they asked for the wine, but you very rarely see it the other way around.

Michelle Bredeson  19:38  

Yeah, and we’ve always since being here. Tyler’s parents are really big into this too, but we wanted it to be a friendly, inviting Wine Experience. Oh, obviously, if somebody came in with a lot of wine knowledge and wanting to learn all of the things about Minnesota grape growing, we could definitely share that with them and nerd out on wine. But we also wanted to Do that place where somebody is coming in, they’re like, I have never had wine in my life. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I feel nervous and anxious. And I know that these wine people are gonna think that I, you know, I’m less than because I don’t know anything about why I wanted to be comfortable for those people to so that they feel like they are welcome to come in and have whatever wine experience they want.

Tyler Bredeson  20:21  

It’s really big for us to meet people at their level, you know, whatever that level is, like, like Michelle said, No, if you’ve you’ve never had never had a glass of Cabernet before and you want to try ours. We’re not going to browbeat you about what your experience has been before or expectations or any of

Drew Hendricks  20:37  

that makes it so much more accessible. On the on the brewery side. Are you doing any? Or maybe you do? And I didn’t look at it. But are you doing any kind of collaborations between the winery in the in the brewery with like aging your beers or adding some wine to the

Tyler Bredeson  20:52  

Yeah, yeah, we do. We do a lot of that actually. We can’t technically add wine to beer. You can add different grape products and things like that. You can do different barrels, adding straight wine to it ends up getting into like a non formulary goofy product that has to be licensed differently. But a crossover been the right way. The first summer we did a fun sour beer that we put in. I think we added like 100 gallons of Frontenac right to that. It was Frontech that had been blushed. So we added this great, really flavorful, very prominent makes it very intense pink blush juice. And that was really, really neat. We have since done a lot with treating barrels back and forth and working with like we for instance, we just had a Flanders read that came out. And that was aged in wine barrels that it had, I think that had mostly Marquette in it. Yeah. So that adds a great wind characteristic to it. It was in those wind barrels for more than a year, one to two years. Some of them were two years. Yeah, right. Right. And so that brings a really, really interesting element to wind is already kind of funky Flanders reds already have a lot of that different characteristic from being co fermented with different kinds of inoculations. And then adding wine characteristic on top of that, gave it a real depth. That was cool.

Michelle Bredeson  22:14  

And then we did a Baltic Porter in our port barrels. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And actually, yeah, that was that gave it a lot. Again, a lot of that port note to it. Kind of made that a little bit just increases just the, the font, I guess of some of those times like the barrel aged wines, it’s kinda

Drew Hendricks  22:35  

it also helps all that crossover appreciation, because someone may find that sours is their entry point to wine. And vice versa. The wine person,

Tyler Bredeson  22:44  

an entry point into beer. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, I think especially. Yeah, the second example that you gave there, the sours being your entry point for your typical wine drinker is is abundantly true, we see that every day here. And it’s fun, it’s fun to get people we have families that have kind of, you know, experiences only on one side and the they have, you know, the one of the two spouses didn’t like one or the other. And now they feel like it’s a more complete experience. We’ve had a lot of people who have been only wind fans, we know long standing customers that are now really into beer.

Michelle Bredeson  23:22  

And it’s because we used to back when it was just the winery, we get a lot of ladies groups coming out. And then when we added the brewery, we see that we get the ladies plus the guys so everyone’s coming together which is it’s a really cool thing. You’ll see these groups walk up and you know, some will split to the brewery some will split to the winery, and then they’ll meet up outside and make a little picnic for themselves and just enjoy the day together.

Drew Hendricks  23:47  

And people can bring food to the to the winery and have oh yeah,

Michelle Bredeson  23:51  

we have like a deli like

Drew Hendricks  23:53  

Cheetos or talk to you about your Stoke and Sizzle, the food that ties it all in.

Michelle Bredeson  23:57  

Yeah. And then we’ve got the Yeah, the woodfired pizza kitchen, which started at the same time we started the brewery so it’s in the same building as the brewery. Okay, so that’s Stoke and our philosophy there is really just as fresh ingredients as we can get we home make all of our dough. So it’s just five ingredients. In our dough, we make it every day and roll it every day fresh. And then all of our produce that we use is primarily fresh produce that we’re getting in and and then Sizzle, if you want to talk about fishing.

Tyler Bredeson  24:32  

Yeah, Sizzle has been kind of a little bit of a funny project given the last couple years that everybody has gone through. So one of the things that we want to do with Sizzle was give a different experience and and also take a little pressure off of our pizza kitchen which was getting really really busy. But yeah, Sizzle is is basically the classic food truck experience trying trying to get some things that are that really tasty, occasionally unhealthy. Uh But, ya know, this year, we’re doing a little bit of a different vision for Sizzle, we’re going to be really, really digging into some very artisanal burgers is going to be kind of the theme for this year.

Michelle Bredeson  25:11  

Yeah. And again, fun, creative. You know, what is the call out? Yeah, it’s

Tyler Bredeson  25:18  

right, it’s your outlet for us to kind of geek out on food and do some fun things. The pizza is a little bit more of this kind of stable, very, very user friendly, egalitarian type kind of a thing. And, and, and Sizzle can be that kind of pop here and there where we’re playing around.

Drew Hendricks  25:36  

Sounds fantastic. You talked about the pandemic, and everybody’s kind of coming into going around it and coming out of it. How is the pandemic changed? You’re wondering your operations?

Tyler Bredeson  25:52  

Um, well, it first off, we just had to kind of as everybody did it, just adapt to find out. Okay, what is the way that we’re going to get through this, one of the things that we were extremely fortunate with, is Michelle’s alluded to it a couple of times, we have a large outdoor space, and experiences with that, that outdoor space worked to our advantage heavily because for some obvious reasons, right? I mean, people were, were worried about being closer together inside tight spaces, all that kind of a thing. And being able to come in, we changed how we were serving so that people were very comfortable inside, but then you’d be able to get outside. No, people could choose to take their mask off if they wanted to, at that point, and really feel a little bit more of a sense of normalcy. And and with enough acreage where people can kind of spread out and be as close or as far away from other people as they wanted to which great. Um, so one of the things we could No, go ahead, do you wanna talk I

Michelle Bredeson  26:48  

was gonna say, so in that we kind of, then were able to, we spent more money than on our outdoor areas to make them better. And that was definitely something that we wanted to improve during, during COVID, which is now still I mean, a great benefit to us having some even better outdoor space for people.

Tyler Bredeson  27:06  

One of the things that we change from a real fundamental level of how we do our tastings, and this is a little difficult to see without seeing our bar space, but most people will have gone to a winery and you do a tasting, and typically that’s at the bar, you’re in front of, you know, the server there. And, and you’re a lot of times getting a sample of wine, you finish that one, another one is poured, etc, etc. That’s a fairly common way of going about that. We had to figure out a way where we had to get those people still able to do tastings, but get them outside where they were comfortable. Because our bar in the summertime were very touristy was was Jan were three, four people deep and it just didn’t work COVID Just that was not going to happen. So we devise a system of of taking your all of your samples in a way that you could kind of take them to go and go anywhere on the property. And so we we created these little boards, we made these things where you did samples more like a brewery. Yeah, yes. And then you can take that and you could go anywhere with it. And that has changed how we’re going to do tastings permanently. Because we find that even as now Mattel people are returning some level of comfort with being inside. They love the fact that they can go and experience our wines in whatever way they want. You know, we have multiple different patio areas. So I’m with musics. And without when people can kind of pick their experience.

Michelle Bredeson  28:30  

It was definitely one of those shared knowledge things. So because we had a brewery and we are already doing that with brewery and made it a lot easier for us to adapt that for the wine side of things. And it just seemed like a natural way of doing that. And people we got really positive feedback on that people loved it that way. So

Drew Hendricks  28:46  

that’s that’s some great advice. And I have seen those multiple, taking away makes so much sense because usually you get just this little taste, you walk away, and then you got to figure out this next one makes so much sense. So I’m always trying to figure out all the Silver Linings that came out of this. And it’s just gonna stick. We know QR codes were one everyone figured out how to use a QR code. Yeah, that’s that’s one of the other ones that I hear quite often that, that and also making more of a custom experience. You mentioned like you’re having the touristy bar where it’s 3d, but talk to a lot of other wineries and they’ve kind of tailored back that and kind of emphasize more like the food wine pairing or more of like a sit down experience. Have you guys looked at any of that type of stuff.

Tyler Bredeson  29:33  

We do some more of those things in some of our offseason. Realistically based upon our space and the type of pressure that we get on in our tourist season. A lot of those really custom experiences are tough in the summertime. We are looking at trying to add some more, some more ability for people to create their own experiences. I know Michelle was looking at a project the other day about trying to trying to be better Kate are of the large volume of bachelor groups that we get. Okay? In the summertime. We and we love them. But we’re it’s always a challenge to figure out, how do you adapt a space that’s a little bit more defined for families, groups of 246, or whatever to, you know, 15 to 18 women coming in and wanting to be together. And so how do we do that in a way where they can sit down a little bit like you said, have, you know, some sort of a wine themed appetizer and cetera, et cetera, get your tastings or, or just an assortment of bottles for the group to share and, and have a very private experience without having to make this massive booking that’s planned for months out, et cetera, et cetera?

Drew Hendricks  30:45  

In the best for let’s tie into your wedding and event space. Yes. Talk to me about that, as you’re coming up. You must have a backlog. I mean, there’s so many weddings waiting to happen.

Michelle Bredeson  30:57  

Yeah, yeah, it was. You know, I think we’re starting to see in 2023, it’s like never a little bit 2022 books. I mean, it was booked by I think, June or July of the previous year. 2021. So this season, we’re, we have most weddings we’ve ever booked and definitely full for next year. Bookings are coming in still higher than normal, but not quite as much as we are seeing in the 2022 season. But yeah, it’s yeah, it was kind of a strange, the events, I think probably got hit the hardest.

Drew Hendricks  31:37  

In our business. Yeah,

Michelle Bredeson  31:39  

because it just, you know, there were so many more restrictions. And the restrictions were detrimental to a lot of what people want, like envisioned for their days. And so I think a lot of people decided to change their visions and adapt in other ways where they weren’t going to a typical venue, that would be an indoor venue.

Tyler Bredeson  31:57  

The great part about the events, though, is that it now returning to a bit more normalcy in that program. It is such a unique way for us to connect with customers on a way that is unlike how you would with any typical customer, you know, whether they are, we’re specifically talking about the couple themselves, or it’s, you know, family, or really good friends or whatever, they get to experience our wine and our beer in our facility in a really, really memorable way. And they become such big fans of ours, and almost kind of like, you know, like cheerleaders for us out there in the community, because they had such a formative event happen and chose to happen with us, which is a great honor.

Michelle Bredeson  32:39  

Yeah. And the cool thing, too, that I always think of, for venues like ours that are you know, we’re a business for most that decided to have events here. But it’s when you get married here, you can come back then on your anniversary and still, like get the same wine maybe that you had, that’s really special to you. And then you can bring your family bag or when you have kids and like it just becomes this, this really important part of their life, that they can still continue to enjoy. Because if you just go to a regular venue that doesn’t have a regular business, you can’t go back and visit. You know, it’s not really a thing to do.

Drew Hendricks  33:19  

That’s a great point. I was also thinking it’s probably goes a long way to help expand your presence outside of Minnesota because people come to from a wedding from all across the United States. Oh, and they never wind up in Alexandria otherwise.

Michelle Bredeson  33:33  

Right? Yeah,

Tyler Bredeson  33:34  

Alexandria is you know, there’s a lot of people who have either lived here for a time or or lived in Minnesota, perhaps lived somewhere else. And then they come back this way. And so we have lots of lots of weddings that maybe the couple has an uncle or an aunt or a grandparent or whatever that lives in this area. And it’s something that they had experienced, perhaps as a child doing vacations here and so they come back in and exactly to your point, then no, they’re dragging in new friends and family that they created in New York or California or wherever.

Michelle Bredeson  34:08  

That’s a definitely a gathering area for for Minnesota, you know, the Lakes Country is that retreat area. So we’re kind of right in the center of Minnesota. So we’re in this hub of vacation land for those that live in Minneapolis, you live in Fargo. It’s a quick drive down the main road that divides Minnesota from North Dakota to Wisconsin. So it’s a really it’s a really easy way to get get away from the big city and come to the lakes area that’s just you know, has a lot to offer besides even just us so

Drew Hendricks  34:45  

sure. I got talking about offering and events gotta talk to me about this Grape Stomp festival.

Tyler Bredeson  34:53  

Grape Stomp is a very it’s a pretty wild week. Yeah. Yeah.

Drew Hendricks  34:58  

Well, great talkback and action to this Sure.

Tyler Bredeson  35:00  

Yeah, it is. And I mean, the great thing about ripstop is it is predominantly outside. And so even last year, we were able to do it with with fairly minimal interference in terms of the normal operation. The two years ago it was was done, but it was done in a massively reduced kind of way. But yeah, back totally to normal this year, more or less. It, it involves a lot of our work. We start working on it in January, yeah. But we get about 15,000 people over the weekend, we have somewhere around 350 different vendors. And some of those are food. A lot of those are different people that make a variety of different artistic products and goods to sell and all manner of different things. And we always have three or four bands going on at any given time. Usually some other kind of large promoter this year, we’re having a big log lumberjack. Thank you. Sure. Yeah, that

Drew Hendricks  36:03  

would be awesome.

Michelle Bredeson  36:05  

Cool. Yeah. It’s fun to watch. Yeah. Obviously, obviously, the grape stomping too. So that’s, I mean, the festival centers around the grape stomping which I To my knowledge is one of the larger business grape stampings in the nation, actually. So we have around 650 to 700 people that will compete over the end. Yeah, it’s

Drew Hendricks  36:27  

and we’ll stop stomping like say,

Tyler Bredeson  36:30  

yeah, yes. So yeah, I mean, you’ve seen probably the everyone has seen that video and and most people will know what I’m talking about. There is a an unfortunate incident with a lady who was a newscaster, I believe out on the east coast. It’s a simple search on your on YouTube would get you this and she falls kind of tragically and loses her breath. It’s a it’s a it’s a sad but kind of funny video. But that’s is the experience, we have barrels that are cut in half. I started about a grapes as dumped into them. You have one person who is stomping those grapes, there is a hole drilled in the bucket. The idea is then to get grapes into juice and get juice to pours through that hole. There is a another person who is standing on the ground in front of these barrels that are all elevated. And they’re there to kind of use their hands to help gather the grapes together to make the stomping very efficient. And so yeah, it’s a teamwork thing. We’ll stop about 10 or 11,000 pounds a grape every year. Oh,

Drew Hendricks  37:32  

man and use the juice?

Tyler Bredeson  37:34  

We do not? Just we did not Yeah, that’s always the question it in theory, you could? Well, it’s kind of had it just would make wine, you would just make very bad wine.

Michelle Bredeson  37:49  

Yeah. Yeah. The difficulty is because this is all done outside is the difficulty would be in, you know, spontaneous for me. Fermentation started. Yeah. Yeah. Sounds like

Drew Hendricks  37:59  

a great time. So what is the winner again?

Tyler Bredeson  38:01  

So we have multiple different winners, we was divided into different days. But the ultimate winner at the end, if you kind of go through a couple rounds of playoffs get to the case of wine, right?

Drew Hendricks  38:12  

The playoffs? Oh, my God. Yeah. Increasingly, I mean, do you do altar? Is it the same amount? I know nothing about this. As you get up into the upper echelons, to the semifinals and finals, is the does that? Is it different? Or is it always the same amount of grace, it’s always the

Tyler Bredeson  38:30  

same amount. It’s just the the competition ramps up significantly. So we take

Michelle Bredeson  38:35  

every heat has eight teams that compete. On let’s take Saturday. So Saturday, every 15 minutes, eight teams have to compete. And so the winner of each heat gets automatically put into the semi finals. And then sometimes the winner from usually we have done like two to four stomp off rounds, and then the top four teams from there, we’ll go to the final step. And then the team that wins the final step wins the case of wine. So yeah, it gets it gets intense. We’ve had people

Tyler Bredeson  39:09  

who have won multiple years. Yeah. And

Drew Hendricks  39:12  

what would an average, like? What would like a winning stump? How much juice would

Michelle Bredeson  39:18  

so the juice is measured? So on the bucket below, they have to hit a certain line. So it’s whoever can do it the quickest.

Drew Hendricks  39:25  

Okay, so it’s not the volume. It’s the speed in which

Tyler Bredeson  39:28  

the speed on some of the winning times is pretty remarkable. I’ve seen people do it in like 20 seconds. It’s about I would say it’s about a gallon of juice. And it happens really quick.

Michelle Bredeson  39:43  

Yeah. And then some rounds. No, three minutes, right. And some rounds go 30 seconds.

Tyler Bredeson  39:49  

Yeah, you can tell when you have somebody who has been down that road before.

Drew Hendricks  39:54  

Probably a lot has to do with the growing conditions like plumper fruit some years than others. So it’s it’s gonna feel quicker. Yeah, like a world record leaderboard for your for your stomp like

Tyler Bredeson  40:05  

we doubt when we do know

Michelle Bredeson  40:08  

that would be we should be a good idea that for

Drew Hendricks  40:13  

30 seconds it hasn’t been beaten three years. Right right.

Tyler Bredeson  40:16  

It’s a good idea.

Drew Hendricks  40:19  

That’s sounds fantastic. I love that stuff. So gosh is we’re coming down towards the end of this. Is there anything I haven’t talked to you guys about or asked you that you’d like to talk about? Gosh, I don’t know. Um, we’re talking to the pre show about somebody. I always like to ask who you buy are most in the industry right now? Yeah,

Tyler Bredeson  40:41  

it will be one of them is a winery that’s relatively close to us. Our winemaker is close to their winemaker too. They have a cool kind of family story as to how they grew into their into where they are now but but it will shine winery over in Wisconsin. They’re about don’t quote me on this, I think a half hour outside of Madison or so. And they they’ve just done a really cool job embracing locally grown grapes and becoming really pretty, pretty common across Wisconsin. They they’re sold all over the place and have won lots of awards. I think it’s a prairie Fumi that they do that they they took it to blend of I think a variety of different northern tier climate grapes and that they’ve gone on now to do they have a distillery. And just it’s a gorgeous place a really, really cool spot to come out short drive from a population center. So they get a lot of bus groups and whatnot from the Madison area. But yeah, they’re fun. And they they’re still operating it as a family.

Drew Hendricks  41:44  

Cool Spot. When you’re not drinking in Minnesota and Wisconsin, what do you guys like to drink?

Michelle Bredeson  41:51  

Oh, we dabble all over it really?

Tyler Bredeson  41:55  

I am partial to. I’m partial to to Bordeaux, reds. I’m a big fan. So but but yeah, I mean all over the place to well, we. We were we were trying to find a common error the other day. That’s a big fan of ours. But our we’re big fan of it. But is there they’re hard to find.

Michelle Bredeson  42:13  

Yeah, we’d like to win. There are interesting varieties out those the ones I usually like to go to. So if I go to a liquor store, and there’s a variety that I haven’t heard of before, I’m like, oh, I need to try that one. What is that? And whenever I go on vacation somewhere, I’m always looking to see Do they have local wine on their restaurant menus? Or can I find a local wine and their liquor stores? Because and I’ll being from a developing wine area, it’s really, it’s really interesting to me to learn about other wine regions. Every state has wineries pretty much. So you know, it’s it’s usually they’re hard to find, which is unfortunate because you know, you want you hope that every state is embracing their own wine industry, but it’s definitely I went to Georgia recently and could not find a Georgia wine to save my life. But I know they have a bunch of wineries that I really wanted to try. So

Drew Hendricks  43:08  

but yeah, I do when you’re traveling, you do like to find a local local juice. We spend a lot of time in Arizona and I become a big fan of a lot of the Arizona wines. Yeah,

Michelle Bredeson  43:19  

great wine. They do. Yeah, you’ve had a lot of their stuff. That’s what I like the Sedona area up there. They’ve got a lot of wineries that makes some great wines.

Drew Hendricks  43:30  

This Spring, Spring Valley or Spring, Spring Creek right. Yeah, would produce the US and Merkin sellers from Yeah. James meaner Kenan and trying to get him on the show. Oh, yeah. Wilcox area. But anyways, back to where can people find more about you and all the events that you have in this grape stomp? Which sounds fantastic.

Tyler Bredeson  43:56  

Yeah, I mean, our website is probably the best source. There’s links on there to everything that we do. You could go to Carlos Creek Winery, you can go to join the Northmen Brewing Company and it will just lead you into either spot whatever you want to do, the Grape Stomp information is on there as well. I mean, the best way is to come in come and see us I mean, it’s it’s a it’s a fun spot to take a vacation to mean you if you’re if you’re on a state there’s a there’s a lot to do in this area, Minnesota and

Michelle Bredeson  44:23  

yeah, if you’ve never been in Minnesota before, I highly recommend coming to the lakes area in Minnesota. It’s just you know, the lakes are gorgeous, clean. There’s great different outdoor things you can do. We have biking trails, everywhere hiking trails, we have lots of fishing, lots of water activities that you can do. I mean, it’s there’s there’s so many cool things in the Lakes Country in Minnesota. That is definitely worth the trip.

Drew Hendricks  44:50  

Sounds fantastic. Well, thank thank you so much for joining us today. Yeah. Nice to meet you. Have a great day. You too.

Outro  45:06  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.