Shangri-La Nook stocks its shelves with colorful, handmade apparel and accessories from Nepal. For winter, they carry items inspired by the hand-knitted winter apparel worn by the Sherpas of the Mt. Everest region, such as one-of-a-kind crocheted winter hats, wool acrylic scarves, and cotton hooded sweatshirts. During spring and summer months, the shop fills its racks with tie-dyed tank tops and over-the-shoulder bags adorned with embroidered flowers, which are ideal for hiking or eavesdropping on gossiping bees.
Armed with a few hybrid wine grapes procured from the University of Minnesota, Nicole Dietman set about planting a vineyard on her property in 2007. Today those grapes, along with a few new additions, grow up to become the whites, reds, and blushes bottled and sold at Buffalo Rock Winery. The port-like Papa Steve's Contraband, named for Nicole's father-in-law, smuggles the fermented juices of organic Frontenac and Marquette grapes onto the palate, where they unleash semi-dry flavor and ginger notes. The Sweet Addilyn rosé earned a bronze medal at the 2011 International Cold Climate Wine Competition for its artful balance of crisp and sweet. All Buffalo Rock Winery wines are produced in limited quantities and are only available for purchase in the tasting room, which opened in 2010.
The experienced guides at Music Master fearlessly lead their pupils into thickets of notes and scales, imparting instrumental mastery during rigorous yet fun lessons. Focusing on the discipline and confidence encouraged by musical achievement, classes help musicians of all ages pursue perfection in guitar, piano, drums, and vocal performance. Provided sheet music keeps students in level-appropriate practice material, and instrument repairs fix up musical implements smashed by rock stars who can’t remember any other way to leave a room.
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.
Perched atop the highest point of Woodland Township, the Woodland Hill Winery spans six and a half of Minnesota's most verdant acres. The intimate winery produces unique, small-batch wines under the direction of owners Mike and Katie Dickerman. This couple does everything, from picking the grapes and fermenting them to running the tasting room and organizing events. They host daily wine tastings with pairings of chocolate and cheese. They even stock an olive oil and bread bar, since a regular bar probably seemed a little redundant.
A mural occupies the corner of the tasting room, fooling the eye with a painted passageway that heads back to an old world-style wine cellar. But the physical surroundings prove much more cozy and modern, with cafe-style tables and a sleek, wood-accented bar. This is the setting for frequent special events, such as September's Fondue Fridays or October's Ladies Night Out, which features wine tastings, karaoke, and an extensive list of craft vendors.