SPICER — Ron and Kim Wothe, owners of Glacial Ridge Winery of Spicer, have been named the Minnesota Encore Entrepreneurs of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
According to a news release from the 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 50. The Wothes were nominated for the award by Bernadette Berger of the Southwest Initiative Foundation.
Ron Wothe was 58 when he first went to the Southwest Initiative Foundation, a microlender with the U.S. Small Business Administration, with the idea of establishing the first winery in the Glacial Lakes area. Glacial Ridge Winery officially opened in August 2007 with two wines in its reserve. The business has grown steadily since then and now produces more than 20 different varieties of wine.
In 2013 the Wothes produced 4,000 gallons of wine, purchasing grapes from 12 local growers and providing income to local farmers.
One full-time, seven part-time and two seasonal jobs have been created in rural Kandiyohi County as a result of the winery. The Wothes also were instrumental in creating the Heartland Wine Trail, which encompasses six wineries in central Minnesota.
Glacial Ridge Winery is situated on 17.5 acres of land with a farmhouse, a large production building, a sales building and an 800-tree apple orchard.
Wineries are a relatively new concept on the Minnesota business scene but are growing in number as more Minnesota farmers diversify into planting grapes. Glacial Ridge Winery products are award-winning hand-crafted wines using mainly Minnesota-grown grapes and some of the winery’s own apples.
Ron Wothe is the general manager and winemaker. Kim Wothe oversees the winery’s bookkeeping and records management.
They will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week awards program May 6 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.