When Roger and Mary Dombrovski took over the Herges' meat market in 1975, they never could have predicted that their small family-owned butcher shop would still be going strong more than 30 years later and peddling their wursts far beyond the Foley city limits. The main order of business during their humble beginnings was processing sausages and preparing pizza toppings, but the Dombrovskis have expanded to include barbecue, organic, and halal meats to their lockers. They ship to home cooks, restaurants, and lazy wolves across the country, and provide an unconditional satisfaction guarantee with every order.
Expertly displayed cuts of beef and pork rest behind the counter at Center Cut Meats. The staff uses their more than 25 years of experience processing meat to create not only traditional cuts, but spiced and prepared options that are ready to take home. They specialize in smokehouse cuts, deli meats, fresh seafood, and both brats and raw sausages. During the week, they put these proteins to use to create a daily lunch buffet. For three hours, they keep restocking the buffet with homestyle favorites such as beef stroganoff, enchiladas, and meatloaf, which pair with side items such as salad, soups, and meatballs.
When woodcarver Kim Bredeson crafted a mantel for an employee of the Robert Mondavi Winery, he received a bottle of Opus One as thanks. For Kim and his wife, Tami, the bottle uncorked a five-year fascination with wine that culminated in the Bredeson's purchase of Carlos Creek Winery. On grounds surrounded by five lakes—Ida, L'Homme Dieux, Miltona, Darling and Carlos—the Bredeson's plant unorthodox grape varieties such as King of the North and Petite Pearl, all of which can withstand temperatures 30 degrees and below. Those grapes eventually yield Carlos Creek Winery's award-winning wines, including the riesling-like Wobegon White and the pinot noir-inspired Marquette, a triple gold medal winner at the sixth annual Mid-American Wine Competition.
As Kim leads tours of the vineyards and complementary tours through Carlos Creek Winery's indoor production area and wine cellar, the staff distributes samples and souvenir tasting glasses in the tasting room. Guests can tap their toes to year-round live music every weekend or explore the winery's expansive grounds, which include bike trails, a 3.5-acre maze, and a giant garden chess set, ideal for convincing Bobby Fischer he's shrinking. Every third weekend of September, Kim and Tami amp up the festivities with their Grape Stomp and Fall Festival, where visitors can stomp grapes, admire blown glass and chainsaw carvings, and laugh along to live comedy shows.
At Wild Mountain Winery, everything is local, right down to the grapes and the process in which they're grown. Surrounded by the green hillsides of the St. Croix River Valley, Wild Mountain Winery utilizes the methods of Elmer Swenson—a pioneering breeder who revolutionized grape growing in regions plagued by cold, short seasons, and undomesticated snowplows. Having been perfected over the years, those time-tested processes now result in hardy varietals that represent the local climate, soils, and vines. Travelers along the Upper St. Croix Wine Trail can explore Wild Mountain Winery's territorial flavors in a number of ways, including during weekend tastings that come with a souvenir glass.
From its locations in Rockford and Buffalo, Nortog Meats supplies home refrigerators and grills with fresh and smoked beef, chicken, and pork. The family-owned meat emporium smokes all of its own meats, and also prepares hearty sausages, beef jerky, and snack sticks from scratch. Steaks are cut to order, leaving them as tender as Elvis’s answering machine greeting.
In the 1880s, Matt M?llner crafted his own wine and whiskey with his brother-in-law in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nearly a century-and-a-half later, his descendants carry on the tradition more than an ocean away at Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery. The Millner family oversees every facet of their business. Father Don is the CEO, while mother Mary handles the gardening and decor. Jon, their son, cultivates the vines, mashes the grapes, and ferments the wine. His wife Annamaria, a Hungarian-born winemaker and agricultural engineer, not only helps him, but also oversees just a little bit of everything else.
The family's European and Minnesotan heritage comes through in how they blend modern equipment with traditional wine-making techniques, using eight varieties of grapes grown on their nine acres of land beneath their nine acres of sky. In 2013, their craft caught the attention of a judging panel, who named Millner Heritage's 2012 Little Iza wine the state's best and bestowed upon it the Minnesota's Governor's Cup. Though winery tours peek into the award-winning processes, guests can also sample the end product in guided tastings. Currently the Millner's produce more than a dozen Austrian and Hungarian Style wines, ranging from Dry whites and reds to semi-sweet ros? to dessert wines, sparkling wines, and ports.