With a passion for boating the waters of Lake Minnetoka to take in views of the region's natural beauty and lush green landscapes, Wayzata Bay Charters' owners charter their 60-foot lake cruiser to make the experience accessible to all. The owners decked out their two-level cruiser—which can host up to 60 people—with a full bar, two satellite TVs, satellite radio, a 2,000-watt sound system, and enough helium balloons to keep both the boat and the party afloat. Believing a jaunt on the lake makes for an ideal event whatever the occasion, they've designed packages specifically for weddings and bachelorette parties, and they still offer public cruises to assure everyone has a chance to take to the water.
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.
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.
Every year for a quarter of a century, the Anoka Knights of Columbus have performed a grim duty for the community. Come October, the cabal constructs a home that summons the local undead, giving them free rein to terrorize all those who trespass so the rest of Anoka may be spared.
Every time Tiny Footprint Coffee uses a little bit of earth's resources, it also puts a little bit back. Since roasting coffee produces CO2, the staff have taken it upon themselves to donate a portion of the proceeds from every pound of coffee they sell to reforestation efforts in Ecuador. In this sense, they've established their business as a "carbon negative" one?the carbon they produce is eliminated by the trees that are eventually planted. And that's not even getting to the coffee itself. Workers dote on the artisanal beans every step of the way, from the family-owned farms where the coffee cherries are picked to the carefully trained baristas who eventually transform the roasted beans into the perfect cup.