The Aftermath of Everything, The Beginning of Something

The day after the party. Woke up feeling like I was hit by a bus! Lots of work went into it, lots of fun came out of it, lots of joy to spread around.

What a humbling day! I was hoping for a busy day, had no idea what to expect. It ended up being a blow-out day with friends and family, old and new. It was so great to see so many folks, hear so many stories, share some memories and make some new ones.

Its markers in time like this, the 20 year anniversary of White Winter Winery, that give me pause to reflect on time that has passed. Our 20 years in business has brought us every emotion imaginable. I was in tears giving a tour on Saturday as I spoke about the 4 reserve meads we released. All of these were made from the best of the best honey we had from 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2012. All of this honey came from my friend and mentor Keith Rowe. Keith passed on in December of 2015. I have missed the drives to his little cabin in the woods to pick up honey. We would have a cup of “Russian tea”, while he told me stories of his military career, family, old times and new. His house was a reflection of the man and his passions, old price sheets on the wall from the general store, bee keeping memorabilia, and mostly family pictures. Keith had been with us from even before we opened the doors of WWW. His support and encouragement were always at the tip of his tongue as well as a sharp word about “keeping those tanks full”. I could never dissuade him of the fact that at least one tank had to be left empty for racking. Keith’s passion for bees was infectious and inspired many people. Sorry if I get a little emotional talking about him, it’s hard to let go sometimes even when you think it should be easier.

As for further reflections….Have I told you how great our staff is here? What a wonderful bunch of folks I work with, not the least of whom are my wife Kim, and daughter Selena. All of the ladies who work here, Kari, Sara, Jean and Donna do such great work and put up with me! It was a long day Saturday and everyone just kept at it and did a great job, with smiles, and good humor. Kari and Sara in particular worked many hours putting the finishing touches on bottling and labeling the reserves, spirits and ciders over the last several weeks. Great job ladies! Selena’s organizational skills really helped pull together all of the detail work in the Front-of-House, wow, what a difference!

It was a great day, a day of humble moments to see old friends and family travel from far and near who have been a part of WWW over the years. John and Trixie who helped pull together food for everyone, our son Austin, who just jumped right in to figure out the new music sound board. (I really only sound good on stage when he is mixing). Our friends from the ALE homebrew club in Appleton, Al & Beth Boyce from the Mpls homebrew club,  my music buddys in the Buddy Scott Blues band, and our new group yet to be named but for now known as the Cellars Boys (our maiden voyage on Sat no less!) So many more I can’t get everyone in, pro-brewers Alyson and Sara of Thirsty Pagan and Vikre distillary fame, Justin from South Shore Brewery, and on and on!

One of the most humbling moments was a brief presentation made by Kelly Westlund the northern Rep for US Senator Tammy Baldwin and by State Senator Bob Jauch, retired. I was again in tears at the kind words of encouragement and support they both had to say. Both have been intimately involved with WWW over the years in many capacities. Both have been instrumental in our success, I and Kim were deeply touched, gratified, and very honored to have them attend and give us the commendations.

Thank you to all of our wonderful family, customers, friends and employees. We made 20 years because of your help and support.

You are simply, the best.