Written by Adam Czech USDA Minnesota Public Affairs Specialist
If Tami and Kim Bredeson have their way, Minnesota will be known as more than just the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It also will be recognized for its wineries and vineyards.
The Bredeson’s own Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, Minn. During a special event on July 12, USDA Minnesota Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer recognized Carlos Creek for receiving a Value-Added Producer Grant. The grant will help Carlos Creek grow its customer base and increase distribution of its locally produced wines.
The Bredeson’s purchased Carlos Creek in 2008. The couple did not have any previous wine-making experience. Before purchasing the winery, Tami worked as marketing director for a bank and Kim owned and managed a custom wood carving business.
That business and leadership experience has helped the Bredeson’s grow Carlos Creek exponentially. Its Minnesota Nice brand – a group of specialty wines with titles like “You Betcha Blush” and “Hot Dish Red” — has been the most popular. The value-added grant will help Carlos Creek meet increasing demand, which also may result in more full and part-time jobs at the winery. Tami said she hopes to increase production by 200 to 300 percent.
“Carlos Creek is a wonderful Minnesota small business success story,” Landkamer said. “We need to make sure businesses like these receive the support necessary to continue growing. Carlos Creek and other emerging small businesses will lead the way in rural job creation as our economy continues to rebound.”
The winery also is a valuable asset to other businesses in the Alexandria area. Tami estimates that about 40,000 people visit the winery each year and that 90 percent visit from outside the Alexandria area. Many visitors stay at local hotels and shop at other area businesses. Tami estimates that Carlos Creek helps bring in about $1.9 million for surrounding community businesses each year.
Local agriculture also benefits from the winery. About 90 percent of the grapes and apples used to create the wines made at Carlos Creek are either grown at the winery or purchased from local producers. The winery also recycles all of its bottles and uses only real cork, a sustainable material. The winery currently supplies customers in a 100-mile radius. The value-added grant will help distribution grow further, even beyond Minnesota.
“We’d like to have Minnesota Nice wines in every state in America,” Bredeson said. “Wouldn’t that be something?”