Connect the Grey's Explorations are cultural and creative outings that encourage attendees to stretch their brains with new experiences. Participants engage their senses with hands-on activities, and they see firsthand how art, science, and community connections fuel businesses and organizations close to home. This summer, we continued exploring creative businesses with visits to WYSIWYG Juice Co. and Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery.
At WYSIWYG, co-founder Kristi Schuck shared how she and her late husband discovered the health benefits of juicing after he was diagnosed with cancer. That journey eventually connected her with fellow co-founder Marie Farley Christiansen, who had gone through a similar experience with her late husband a decade earlier. The two of them decided to join together to bring their nutritious offerings and their message of hope to the public with WYSIWYG (the name stands for "what you see is what you get").
Living a creative lifestyle means being open to possibilities, Kristi explained. She and her husband had just begun to throw around the idea of selling their juices when a friend mentioned that commercial space might be opening up on the block where WYSIWYG now operates. Kristi agreed to stay in touch about potentially renting in the future, not knowing that over the next few years, a real business plan would take shape, and that WYSIWYG would eventually open in that spot. The founders bring that sense of possibility to everything they do: Kristi said that when her kids come to her and say, "Mom, I have a problem," she replies, "No, you have an opportunity!"
After hearing the story of WYSIWYG, we toured behind the scenes, seeing just how many fruits and vegetables go into each batch of juice.
We also tasted WYSIWYG's lineup of juices, as well as their non-dairy nut milks, chia parfaits, and "poppers," or snackable bites.
Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery takes its name from the Dakota word for the creek that flows through the area, meaning "forest enclosed." The winery, one of the Midwest's most acclaimed, is focused on offering not just wine, but also the experience of tasting and sharing it. Vice President of Winemaking and Official Winemaker Mike Drash built a successful career as a winemaker in California's Napa Valley before relocating to the Midwest, his wife's home. His first day of work at Chankaska was in February, in below-zero weather, during a blizzard — and he even had to walk uphill to work.
But because grapes are harder to grow in the Midwest, and because the region is relatively new for winemaking, there are unique opportunities here to be creative. The University of Minnesota has developed wine grapes that can withstand cold winters, including the Marquette, which we got to taste in Chankaska's 2015 Minnesota Marquette. Mike also exercises his creativity when describing the nose and flavors of each wine; among the wines we tasted, there were notes including "coconut water" and "crispy bacon."
As part of our visit, we saw Chankaska's distilling operation, which they are using to branch into spirits with brandy, whiskey, gin, and "hard hops," a collaboration with Mankato Brewery.
Then we tasted a selection of wines in Chankaska's temperature-controlled barrel room.
Though these Explorations at WYSIWYG and Chankaska were open to the public, we also plan Explorations as a custom offering for organizations. Employees can build relationships and find new creative inspiration by getting out of the office, learning about a local business, and participating in a tasting or other activity. Contact us to learn about our next public Exploration or to plan one for your team!