February 2016 Newsletter
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Get to Know – Matt Cole

It is my pleasure to introduce ACED’s new board president, Matt Cole.  Matt joined our board in Summer 2015 and then accepted the board president position in December 2015. 

Matt, his wife, Karrie, along with son, Dane, and daughter, Skyler, live in Waukon.  Matt is the plant manager at Alliant Energy-Lansing.  He is originally from Fulton, IL, which is about 3 hours south following the Mississippi River. 

Matt enjoys the rolling hills and bluffs northeast Iowa offers.  He finds it to be a wonderful place to raise a family.  Plus the area has so much to offer with regard to outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and exploring in the Yellow River, Effigy Mounds, and the various community parks.

I asked Matt about his latest discovery in Allamakee County.  Matt shared how he observed a barge navigate the turn at the Blackhawk Bridge from the Mt. Hosmer lookout.

Matt recognizes the businesses in our small communities work very hard to provide unique experiences and a variety of options.  Matt wants to do what he can on the board to see communities and businesses thrive, to keep these options close to home.

Welcome to ACED - Matt!

The Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade

News Radio WMT AM of Cedar Rapids recently made the announcement that Waukon was chosen as the host for the upcoming 17th annual Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade June 12th – 15th.  500 tractors along with more than 300 support staff will take part in the ride.  Each day’s ride will start from the Allamakee County Fairgrounds in Waukon.  ACED has been busy providing information on lodging and we hope to fill every available room in Allamakee County.  If you have space available to house any of our guests or if you can provide space for a camper or two, please let Ardie know at 563-568-2624 or  For additional information on the ride and a map of the daily routes, log on to the WMT website at  

Looking to Finance Your Small Business?

Call now and reserve your seat for Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. at the Allamakee County Economic Development Office located at 101 West Main Street, Waukon.  This will be a 1.5 hour session where you will learn about funding options for your small business through Small Business Administration, Upper ExplorerLand, Allamakee County Economic Development, and more.  Light refreshments will be served.   Seating is limited.

 Winter Fest Chili CookOff Proclamation

On Monday, January 25, 2016, the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors signed a Proclamation recognizing the Winter Fest Chili CookOff as the Official Allamakee County Chili CookOff.   This proclamation invites all Allamakeee County businesses and individuals to participate if you think you have a winning chili recipe.  Winter Fest is hosted by the community of Lansing and this will be the third annual cook off.  Winter Fest and the Chili CookOff will take place on February 20th.  For more information on the Chili CookOff or Winter Fest, contact Craig White at Main Street Lansing, 563-538-9229 or go to the

Northeast Iowa Artist’s Studio Tour

Application Deadline: March 1, 2016

ACED would like to remind all interested local artists that applications to exhibit in the 19th annual Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour are due March 1, 2016.  The 2016 Tour will take place on October 7, 8, and 9 with studios being open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.  Fine Art and Fine Craft items including painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography, clay/ceramics, wood, glass, metal, printmaking, mixed media, handmade paper, fiber, etc. will be considered appropriate items for this Tour.  All works must be original in concept and design and must have been executed by the applicant.  Molds or kits, commercial or manufactured items and buy/sell are not permitted.  For an application or more information, go to or contact Darla Ellickson at or 563-382-2295.  This is an excellent opportunity as past tours have been known to attract 2000-2500 visitors to our area.

ACED's Feature Business Article


Are you thinking how nice it might be to escape the winter and head to California to visit a winery?  No need to travel that far when you can have a most wonderful wine tasting experience and visit right here in your own back yard at Empty Nest Winery, 1352 Apple Road, Waukon.  Wine and Beer tastings and trails have become one of the most popular things for people to see and do when planning day trips, weekend getaways or vacations.
Dave and Pam Kruger, owners of the Empty Nest Winery decided to take that to heart when back in 2010 they took their first step of turning their family farm into a winery.  This was Dave’s family farm and the family had been actively farming it including milking of a Brown Swiss Dairy herd.  Pam also was raised on a dairy farm in Winneshiek County so raising crops and hard work was nothing new to them.  They began making wine in the basement of their farm home and on Thanksgiving weekend of 2011 held their first wine tasting in a remodeled room of their home.  After several years of building and marketing their business they felt they had discovered their niche and needed more space so they designed a new building for the farm which would include a new wine tasting room, event room, commercial kitchen, a wine processing room, and an outdoor patio.  The new building was completed and a Grand Opening was held on Thanksgiving weekend of 2015.

Pam stated that she is the primary wine maker, learning it from her mom and her mom’s experience with making dandelion and beet wine.  Pam and Dave have had no formal training only experimenting with handed down recipes and doing a lot of research.  Their wine is unique in that they make it in small batches by hand.  They start with fresh berries and fruits many of which are grown and produced on their farm.  Over these past years, they have experimented with all kinds of fruits and vegetables including sweet corn and are proud to say that MOST have turned out great.  They now raise their own raspberries (harvesting up to 2000 lbs per year), blackberries, strawberries and blueberries.  At the right times of year they can be found hiking to their woods to gather the wild blackcaps and elderberries.  The berries are frozen and used to make wine all year.  Though raising their own fruit takes their wine making a long ways, in order to keep up with demand, they do purchase from local and commercial farmers when needed.  
They started out their business and sales with marketing seven different wine varieties but now are producing thirty different varieties, some available all year, some seasonal and some limited varieties.  Most of their wines are semi-sweet but they do offer a few dry wines.  Empty Nest Winery is most known for their pure berry & fruit wines and offer limited wines from time to time made from pineapple, kiwi, peaches, apples and grapes.  Fermenting out the whole berries and fruit gives their wine a more juicy-berry rich flavor.  Their port wines are sugar fed for months to obtain a higher alcohol to balance the rich robust flavors.

With the new building came new opportunities for the Kruger’s.  They have expanded their wine tasting and have provided an atmosphere for social gatherings and relaxation both inside and outside on their patio.  They serve up their wines, offer sangria drinks and also have included not only can and bottled beers but have on tap beers from our local breweries. They take bookings for all kinds of events including bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, rehearsal dinners, birthday/anniversary parties, class/family reunions, wine/painting parties, and any and all reasons to celebrate an occasion.  They have been hosting business Christmas parties and will continue to do so until the first weekend in February.  With the addition of the event seating area and commercial kitchen, they are able to offer catering services for food and meals requested for these events.   They have a full menu of catering choices. 
In addition to on-site wine tasting and wine events, Pam and Dave also take their wine-tasting on the road, doing wine tasting and sales all summer long at our local Farmer’s Markets, community events and sell to approximately eighteen retail businesses throughout Iowa.  The wine tastings are done primarily by Dave and Pam themselves so that they can talk about their wines.  Pam uses her down home values and common sense approach to her cooking, wine making and running the tasting room while Dave provides the “quality control sampling”, does all the marketing at Wine & Beer Fests, Farmer’s Markets, retail tastings, sales and delivery.  They are a great team!!
One might ask how in the world they do all of this, so I did and Pam stated that so far they enjoy working it themselves but she was quick to add that they have wonderful help when needed from their four grown children, spouses, significant others and two grandchildren.  Their biggest challenge at any given time is balancing a lot of working hours, time for family and relaxation but Pam was also quick to say that they are both workaholics who often go twenty hours a day, seven days a week forgetting to eat and sleep.  To quote Pam “The two of us do everything but we are both just crazy enough to make this winery go; we just love people coming to our winery and we work very hard so everyone has a great time here.”  It is no wonder they have created a strong and reputable business for themselves bringing in people from far and near.
What do they see for the future of the Empty Nest Winery?  They will produce an estimated 30,000 bottles of wine in 2016; they will not change their wine making process but will continue the small batches by hand even though they now have more space to do so; they wish to expand visitor experiences; host more events in their new facility (already many weekends are booked); and perhaps at some point creating partnerships with other venues and services; and being more visible to tourists now that they are on the Iowa Wine Trail.   
People today have time and money so are willing to travel for unique experiences.  People from the larger metropolitan areas especially like to travel to small communities and rural America for venues that can offer a peaceful setting and beautiful scenery all of which makes the Empty Nest Winery a great day or weekend trip.  Once here, we hope that they can be enticed to stay, eat or shop so that it becomes a win-win not only for the Empty Nest Winery but for Allamakee County. 
Empty Nest Winery will be opening again for their new season starting the weekend of February 12th.  Check out the big opening event – their 5th Annual Blind Wine Tasting, February 12-14th.  For more information on all of their upcoming events, hours and contact information, please visit them at and "like" them on facebook.  So no need to jet off to California, next time you need to relax head out to our very own Empty Nest Winery and enjoy all the hospitality and atmosphere that any big winery anywhere could offer up.  You’ll enjoy the experience. 

ACED is pleased that Dave and Pam have chosen to stay in Allamakee County to grow their business.    Cheers!

By, Ardie Kuhse


February Calendar of Events
Waterville Ambulance Service Fundraiser/6th Annual Soup Supper
Waterville Fire Station
4-8 p.m.
Secrets of the Crocodile Caves
Effigy Mounds
5th Annural Blind Wine Tasting Event
Empty Nest Winery
26th Annual Have a Heart Day 
Waukon Dental
Free exams, X-rays, Fillings, Extractions & Sealants Ages 4-18
Magician Comedian Ben Ulin 
Waukon Banquet Center
8 p.m.
Rug Braiding Class 
New Albin Townhouse
Call 563-544-4747
America’s Stone Age Explorers 
Effigy Mounds
New Albin Firemen's Pancake Brunch 
New Albin Fire Station
7:30 am - 12:30 pm
Deadly Beauty of Nature 
Effigy Mounds
Painting Class 
New Albin Community Center
Call 563-544-4747
Mosaic Luncheon 
Mosaic 12 E. Main St., Waukon, IA
Call 563-568-3992
Travel the World by Train
Effigy Mounds
Community Free Meal 
Presbyterian Church - Waukon

Every Tuesday   
Story Time - Robey Memorial Library
Every Sat. & Sun. (starting Sat., Feb. 13)    
Wine Tasting - Empty Nest Winery
Copyright © 2016 Allamakee County Economic Development, All rights reserved.

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