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SBA Names Minnesota Encore Entrepreneurs of the Year

Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Release Number: 
Advisory Number: 
Sherree Stratton (612) 370-2325

Spicer, Minn. – Ron Wothe (Owner, General Manager, and Winemaker) and Kim Wothe (Owner, Bookkeeper, and Records Management) of Glacial Ridge Winery, Inc., based in Spicer, have been named the Minnesota Encore Entrepreneurs of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Encore Entrepreneur of the Year award is based on success as measured by sales and profits, increased employment opportunities created by the business, development and/or utilization of innovative or creative business methods, and demonstrated entrepreneurial potential necessary for long-term business success and economic growth.  The business owner must have a three-year track record and must have started the business after the age of fifty (50).  Bernadette Berger, Southwest Initiative Foundation, nominated Ron and Kim for this award.

Ron was 58 when he first went to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (an SBA microlender) with the idea of establishing the first winery in the Glacial Lakes area.  In August of 2007, Ron and Kim officially opened Glacial Ridge Winery with just two wines in their reserve.  The business has grown steadily since then and they currently offer over 20 different varieties of wines.

Glacial Ridge Winery is located in the heart of West Central Minnesota. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Glacial Lakes area, the winery is situated on 17.5 acres of land with a farmhouse, a large production building, a sales building, with an 800 tree apple orchard.

Wineries are a relatively new concept in Minnesota, which is growing as more and more Minnesota farmers are planting grapes.  Glacial Ridge Winery products are award winning hand-crafted wines all made at their boutique winery using mainly Minnesota Grown grapes and some with their own apples.  The varieties that are on the shelf depend on the grape available for the season.  They’ve had fun doing different wine blends, such as “Wicked” which is a port style Frontenac and a Cabernet Sauvignon blend. 

In 2013 they produced 4,000 gallons of wine, purchasing grapes from 12 local growers, providing additional income to local farmers.

The winery is a popular destination for small groups and day trippers. The winery hosts a wide variety of special events throughout the year including holiday events, ticketed dinner parties, and fundraising events. The winery's most popular summer events include the Free Outdoor Summer Concert Series and an annual Grape Stomp.  Glacial Ridge Winery offers park-like grounds which have been used for weddings, receptions, graduations, and other special events.

One full-time, seven part-time and two seasonal jobs have been created in rural Kandiyohi County, as a result of Glacial Ridge Winery. In addition, they have a dedicated volunteer network that contributes voluntary labor to a number of winery events, especially the Grape Stomp, which utilizes 30 volunteers contributing 240 labor hours in one day.

Ron and Kim were instrumental in creating the Heartland Wine Trail which encompasses 6 wineries, including Buffalo, Clara City, Waconia, Delano, Kimball, and Spicer. Also, Minnesota wineries banded together to create the Savor Minnesota tasting event each year in April at a location in the Twin Cities area.

Ron and Kim have done an excellent job working with local businesses and community organizations, for cross promotions to expand both marketing dollars and customer reach. They work locally with the Spicer Commercial Club, Spicer WinterFest, New London Retail Association, and the Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau on a variety of co-marketing and events throughout the year.

Ron and Kim will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards program on May 6, 2014, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

For more information:

Ron Wothe (Owner, General Manager, and Winemaker)
Kim Wothe (Owner, Bookkeeper, and Records Management)
Glacial Ridge Winery, Inc.
15455 Old Mill Road
Spicer, MN 56288