Perhaps one of the best words to sum up winemaker Orville A. Gertsch's method is patience. In 1996, he decided to turn his winemaking hobby into a profession, and planted his first vines the following year. And yet it wasn't until the 2001 harvest that Orville was ready to push his wine into full retail production. That same year, he registered his operation's name: Prime Country Winery.
Though he handed the managerial reins to his son Fred in 2002, Orville still draws from more than 30 years of experience to produce a range of handmade red, white, and blush wines. He and his staff use only the grapes they harvest on their own Denton vineyard, a decision central to their mission and to ensuring none of the grapes are actually tiny spy cameras. They pick all of their plantings by hand, and rack—rather than filter and pump—the must, a labor-intensive process that Orville finds infinitely more rewarding. Using these old-fashioned, chemical-free processing techniques in tandem with modern steel equipment, Prime Country Winery fills its tasting room with craft wines ranging from dry to sweet.
Surrounded by 400 acres of rippling hills and more than 12,000 grapevines just north of Lincoln, James Arthur Vineyard proves that award-winning wine doesn't just come from the West Coast or a billionaire's bathroom-sink faucet?it can hail from the Midwest, too.
In a cozy tasting room complete with crackling fireplaces and gourmet snacks, visitors can sample the finest. Proprietor Jim Ballard's personal favorite is the 2012 Vignoles, whose delicate m?lange of apricot and peach notes won the Jefferson Cup that year, along with a Best of Show at the Colorado State Fair Wine Competition. The winery's ros?s?particularly the 2011 Horizon and the 2011 White St. Croix?have made similar splashes at competitions throughout the U.S. The 2010 Game Bird Red stands out from the dry reds with its subtle, nose-tickling burst of strawberry, and James Arthur Vineyard occasionally unveils a limited-edition specialty such as its brandy-fortified Tropasti dessert wine.
Carl Busskohl began his career as a mail carrier in 1928, but soon he found he had passengers other than parcels. When folks increasingly asked to ride along on his route between Norfolk and Sioux City, Carl saw another opportunity: he traded his 7-passenger Buick in for a 25-passenger bus, making it the first vehicle of the Arrow Stage Lines fleet. After more than 80 years, Carl's enterprise has grown to include more than 160 luxury motorcoaches?all equipped with air conditioning, reclining seats, and spacious restrooms?that ferry groups, athletic teams, and big-window fan clubs to new destinations or on local and long-distance tours.
Named for the terroir in which its grapes flourish, Glacial Till Vineyard's rocky mineral-rich soil is home to nine varieties of French-American red and white grapes that grow ripe on the vine across gently sloping hills. Those grapes are crushed, pressed, and eventually transformed into handcrafted wines, including a smooth and dry Chambourcin; the semisweet and fruity Edelweiss; and the bright, springy Frontenac Rose. At the beautiful off-site tasting room, visitors can take a seat at a caf? table or along the bar to enjoy sips of all of Glacial Till's wines, which can also be ordered by the glass or bottle.
In the days before kegs and bottles, beer enthusiasts would have to cart a bucket to their local brewery, fill it up, and carry it (gently) home. Lucky Bucket Brewing Company pays tribute to brewing history both in its name and its traditional brewing techniques.
Lucky Bucket?s flavorsome creations are crafted inside an 18,000-square-foot brew house with a friendly and familial atmosphere. Gleaming silver fermenters give birth to bottles of a pre-Prohibition-style lager, a pleasantly floral IPA, and the dark, malty imperial porter Certified Evil, and a revolving lineup of their locally-made beer is on tap, featuring the Single Batch series.
The facility operates a craft brewery, as well as Cut Spike Distillery which turns out hand-crafted spirits such as Cut Spike Single-Malt Whiskey. The distillery ages it's whiskey for two years in brand new American oak barrels.
As an Army veteran, owner, and head distiller, Jeff Hadden has made it his mission not only to make awesome, handcrafted spirits, but also give back and support veterans. Aged six years, his bourbon whiskey recently received a double-gold medal at the esteemed San Francisco World Spirits Competition, joining the silver-medal-winning vodka on the boozy podium. At the wide-open, industrial-chic tasting room, visitors can sidle up to the bar to taste samples and cocktails, or gather around a table to stare deeply into each other's eyes.