Green Pages » July/August ‘13

Greening Your Moontime

Wisconsin Sisters’ Business Helps Women Save Money Each Month

by Abbie Burgess

Did you know over 12 billion used disposable menstrual products are thrown away in the United States each year? As if such massive mountains of waste alone weren’t enough of an environmental concern, the manufacturing processes create by-products and pollution. From a health standpoint, the bleaching process produces a carcinogenic by-product called dioxin, which is found in trace amounts in tampons and sanitary pads and may stay in the body for twenty years after exposure. With monthly use, those trace elements can really add up.

No wonder many savvy women are turning to cloth pads for a greener, healthier solution! Cloth pads are available online and in many health food stores. One available option, Party in My Pants Pads, comes from a business run by two sisters in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Sisters Luci Daum and Lydia Daum partnered in 2008 to form Party in My Pants Pads. Why the name? “We were just brainstorming, and it’s the name that made us laugh the most! So it stuck,” explains Lydia.  “The ethos behind the product was to refuse the negative, shameful side of menstruation, to reinvent that for ourselves.”

Luci, a designer who has been sewing since age three, originally started making cloth pads just to give to her sisters and friends. “I’d been designing and sewing all my life. I wanted to make them for myself, since personally I had issues with disposables not working properly and being expensive,” she said. What began as a side project eventually became a livelihood, as she sold her colorful cloth pads to co-ops and, eventually, online.

The first eye-catching trait of Party in My Pants pads is the vibrant fabric designs — Luci and Lydia enjoy choosing bright and whimsical fabric for their products. The second striking thing is the pads are surprisingly light and thin — about the thickness of an ultrathin panty liner. I have to ask them — do these really work for customers who need super absorbency? “Our feedback from customers is that they do indeed work,” said Lydia. Party in My Pants Pads offers eleven different sizes, so the sisters attest there’s one to fit everyone. “If I’d seen my own product ten years ago, I never would have believed something so thin and tiny would work,” said Luci. “If people can just try it, they’ll understand.” Lydia agrees. “Once they try it, it’s a revelation.” That’s why they started their “Cloth Pad Curious” giveaway, offering their product to first-time buyers for just the cost of shipping.

The concept of washing pads instead of throwing them effortlessly into the trash does give some people pause, the sisters admit.  If the thought of washable, reusable sanitary products makes you squeamish, know that the pads come out clean just by tossing them in a regular load of laundry. Most cloth pad users are able to get over their initial misgivings. After all, disposable sanitary products aren’t sterile despite their bleached color and individual wrapping.

Every year, the sisters see their sales increase, and that trend doesn’t appear to be changing. “A lot of people are trying to save money and be environmental,” Luci said. “This is one piece of that puzzle.” She has a friend who was inspired to start recycling and being greener in other ways after she switched to cloth pads. “It’s the thing that could tip the scales,” Luci said.

While the co-owner sisters collaborate on many tasks, Luci heads the design and Lydia favors the copy writing and marketing.  Today, they work out of Wilmarth School, an 1891 Ashland schoolhouse they bought when it was slated for demolition after school district consolidation. Near the South Shore of Lake Superior, the renovated brownstone has plenty of space for the growing business. Party in My Pants Pads now includes five other employees who help meet the growing demand for the product, which can be purchased online or at select retailers, including Just Local Food in Eau Claire.

Along with cloth pads, other reusable menstrual products are rising in popularity, such as menstrual cups and sea sponges that are used in place of tampons. Luci and Lydia don’t feel threatened by these alternatives. Luci explained that both of these options are compatible with their products, and they all work toward the same goal of helping people save money and think in a more positive, Earth-loving way. “The main issue is options,” Lydia added. “Every woman should find what works for her.”

Sources: www.partypantspads.com | Lydia and Luci Daum:  1-888-898-9496


Green Pages » May/June ‘13

Brain Health: Functional Neurology

Why do you have chronic neck and/or back pain, fibromyalgia, ADD/ADHD, neuropathy, vertigo/dizziness, joint disorders/arthritis, dyslexia, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or scoliosis? Then to top it all off, why do you also have  trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, difficulty making simple decisions, or a lack of desire to face your day?

Your Brain May Hold the Key!

In a healthy brain, all the regions exist in a state of balance. When one region is active, the others quiet down. New studies have shown that people with chronic pain or conditions have a portion of the brain, the cortex, which “never shuts up,” failing to deactivate when it should. Essentially, your brain is stuck on full throttle. This continuous activity in your brain affects your ability to cope and your perception of pain.

Balance Your Brain!

Brain health, functional neurology, is the key to wellness. You can balance your brain with 1) medication or 2) natural methods. Natural methods include: a functional neurological exam, chiropractic adjustments, neurofeedback/biofeedback, and possibly nutritional supplementation.

How Does It Work?

Healthy brain function is dependent on equal function of the two halves of the brain.  When you suffer from emotional stress (who doesn’t?), injuries, and/or poor nutrition, the two sides of the brain become out of balance, creating poor capacity for the body to function properly, which may result in increased pain and disease.

When the brain is in balance through chiropractic adjustments, neurofeedback, biofeedback, nutritional supplementation, and other natural methods, patients often report improved thinking, as well as improvement in relief of chronic pain.

How Quickly Can You See Results?

Your improvement depends on the severity and length of time you have had the imbalances.

We Can Help You at Optima Health & Vitality Center

Drs. Bircher and Bauer have taken the functional neurology courses through the Carrick Institute, and they recognize the neurological signs that indicate brain/central nervous system imbalance. The doctor will examine your brain’s function and help you improve it with non-invasive, natural methods so that you can achieve your healthiest life—now!

UW-EC’s Host Friend Program

The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire’s Host Friend program is an opportunity for people across the Chippewa Valley to experience a small piece of the world in their own home.  As a Host Friend, you will be the first friendly face seen by a newly arrived international student and you will set a solid foundation for the rest of their experience here in the United States.

“They came into my life a little more than 3 months ago and even though I am traveling 6,500 miles back to Denmark, they will still be a part of my life.  I cannot thank my host friends enough.” —International Student, Denmark

As a Host Friend, you will provide a 2-4 day homestay for an international student, all while developing a friendship that will last a lifetime!  Host Friends introduce the new students to American life through various exciting and fun activities that can range from a simple conversation over coffee, to a day or weekend trip somewhere in the region; the possibilities are endless.

Volunteer to be a Host Friend today and join the now over 450 active community and internationally minded folks from the Chippewa Valley!  UW–Eau Claire’s international student population is increasing each semester, and so is our need for Host Friends.

“Thanks to all of you who already participate and who will participate in this program.  There are no words to express the gratitude that we have for all you do…thank you!”  —International Student, France

For more information and to apply, please contact the Host Friend Coordinator, Michael Buenger.  715-836-4411  hostfriend@uwec.edu  www.uwec.edu/cie

Green Pages » Mar./Apr. ‘13

New Day Yoga & Wellness, LLC, Opens In Chippewa Falls

You will notice a special ambiance when you ?rst step into this peaceful, comfortable, and relaxing studio. You will hear the gentle sound of trickling water walls coming from the yoga room. Once inside, you will ?nd The Great Yoga Wall, a premier feature in today’s yoga world, that allows for inquisitive novices to experience deep yoga stretches and even go safely into complete inversions.

New Day has four certi?ed, experienced instructors who are very knowledgeable and who love what they do. There are also two massage therapists onsite, specializing in deep tissue, relaxation, and hot stone massage therapy. Studio owner, Linda Foster, RYT500, who has been teaching in the Chippewa Valley since 2007, and most recently worked at Gold’s Gym and the Chippewa Valley YMCA notes, “Our approach is that yoga should be accessible for everyone. We offer all levels, from beginner to advanced. Our goal at New Day is to provide an environment and experience that empower our students to strengthen and become more ?t, to feel better, to relax, and to enjoy life.”

Yoga increases overall ?tness and is a powerful tool for conquering stress. The workshops at New Day are unique, encompassing a holistic approach to wellness and partnering with other health professionals.  The Elijah Project, currently at New Day, is a group-therapy-oriented series of workshops designed by Andrea Polnaszek, LCSW, to help you re?ect, relax, and rest. You will come to a better understanding of who you are from a Christian perspective as you explore the depths of God’s love and provision for you, using faith, therapy, and yoga. You will also learn to live more comfortably “in your own skin” as you deepen your understanding of your own mind-body connection through breath work and simple stretches.

Check out newdayyogawellness.com for more information.

Namaste!

Puckabee’s, Eau Claire’s Eco-Friendly Pet Salon, Turns One!

In January 2012, something big happened in downtown Eau Claire. The very first eco-friendly dog and cat salon, Puckabee’s, was born. To some, this may not seem like a big leap forward; most pet owners may not even realize what a difference eco-friendly products and a relaxing, chemical-free environment can make for their pets. Fortunately, for all the dogs and cats in the Chippewa Valley, there is one person who does.

In the fall of 2010, Melissa Kullman (who has been pet grooming for over twelve years in Eau Claire) knew that a change needed to be made to provide a safe grooming place for our dogs and cats—and that she was just the person to do it. Melissa says, “Reducing carbon ‘paw prints’ is a priority for me. When I first had the idea of an eco-friendly salon, I took a scrupulous look at all the changes that would need to be made, and did it. All the small things really add up to a big difference for both the animals and the earth.”

Melissa notes that the list of changes was long but important. All of the products that are used on the dogs and cats are chemical free, biodegradable, plant based, locally made, and of course not tested on animals. As for the rest of the shop, Melissa replies, “If it’s not green, it doesn’t come in. I really want to make a difference: recycled paper products, eco-friendly floor cleaner, glass cleaner, hand soap, laundry soap, no bleaches or artificial air fresheners. We reduce, reuse, recycle, and buy local.”  Besides being the responsible thing to do for the environment, Melissa knows that all the dogs and cats appreciate her dedication as well.

“Most people don’t think of all the toxins their dogs and cats encounter in a day. Dogs always have their nose to the ground (and in everything else). It’s their nature. They’re sniffing up all those harmful toxins from detergents, fabric sheets, household cleaners, room sprays, lawn fertilizers, you name it. And because they’re closer to the ground, they’re getting a higher dose of toxins than we do. Not to mention all the toxins that are picked up on their paws and licked off. Think of the licking that your dog or cat does in a day. Scary. It’s important that I provide a truly clean place that’s safe and non-toxic.”

Besides being free of chemicals, and reducing the carbon paw print (as Melissa puts it), one might wonder what else goes into making Puckabee’s an eco haven. Melissa says that it’s simple. “Make it a home away from home. Don’t make them spend their day cooped up in a poorly lit room. Make them comfortable. I treat each pet as if it were my own.”  When the dogs and cats are content and feel safe, they are less stressed and the grooming experience becomes a positive one. Since each dog or cat is different, Melissa knows that many pets have their unique challenges. Whether it’s a unique or giant breed, the timid, difficult to handle, those with health problems, or the slow to trust, Puckabee’s is the place to have your pet treated as an individual with patience and respect.

Take a quick walk through the salon and you’ll see that the dogs and cats don’t mind spending the day at Puckabee’s one bit. Each pet gets its own suite where it gets to relax before and after its haircut or grooming session, complete with a cot, pillow, and its own window. The pets love being able to watch Melissa work, see people coming and going, and watching all the outside action that Barstow Street has to offer. Within just a few moments of being in Puckabee’s, you see the difference. Melissa’s interest in green living and passion for animals is apparent.

Puckabee’s is located at 24 S. Barstow Street in Downtown Eau Claire. For more information including hours, services, and pricing, please call (715)514-1003 or visit www.puckabees.com.

Thrive with Massage Therapy and Healing Touch!

Two years ago, I had never had a massage. Then, over the Christmas holidays, my sister and sister-in-law coaxed me—after I protested at first that it “wasn’t my thing”—to go with them to get a massage. I thought it would be relaxing, of course, but I was not expecting it to be so revitalizing, giving me a new connection and appreciation of the body while at the same time transcending the body—both a physical and a meditative experience. That one massage impressed me so much that I decided to become a massage therapist.

During my massage therapy schooling, I also studied Healing Touch, an energy healing therapy that uses gentle touch or hand movements near the body, to relieve pain, calm the emotions, and heal both the energy body (chakras and aura) and the physical body. I have completed Level Two of the Healing Touch International training.

With my new business, Thrive Therapeutic Massage and Healing Touch, I strive to make each massage an experience that tends to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, whether it’s the first time you’re trying massage or if you are seasoned massage fan, and whether you’re coming in to get a handle on stress, address chronic pain issues, or balance your chakras. I believe a safe, nurturing atmosphere sets the tone for an effective session. We will talk and decide together which types of massage and what Healing Touch techniques would best suit each session. The types of massage we can draw from for your session include Swedish, myofascial release, deep tissue, trigger point, hot stone, craniosacral, pregnancy, and lymphatic drainage.

If you’d like to talk with me about how massage can help you thrive, call or email for a one-time, fifteen-minute, free consultation.

Jan Carroll runs Thrive Therapeutic Massage and Healing Touch, 534 Water Street. Call (715) 838-9432 or email thrivetherapeuticmassageEC@gmail.com. On the web at www.thrivetherapeutic.abmp.com.

Seventh Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference

Monday, April 15, 2013
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

Conservation Everywhere: Sustaining Natural and Cultural Diversity will explore connections between biological diversity and human cultures and examine preservation across the whole range of environmental context—from forests and oceans to cities and farms. This year’s conference will raise awareness of the many frontiers of environmental action including but beyond traditional wilderness areas—in neighborhoods and communities, in forward-thinking business models, and in sustainable urban areas.

This one-day event will feature appearances by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, marine conservation advocate and filmmaker Céline Cousteau, Kohl’s senior executive vice President Ken Bonning, Nelson Institute director Paul Robbins, and a variety of other speakers, panelists, exhibits, and activities. More information coming soon!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the conference. Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter to let us know what you think and to stay informed about conference updates and other Nelson Institute news and events.


Green Pages » Jan./Feb. ‘13

New Co-op Develops in Durand

In April 2012, a group of individuals held a public meeting to gauge response and chose a steering committee to develop what would become Good Egg Food Co-op. This committee spent much time gathering information, wrote a mission statement, and decided what type of co-op model to utilize. Although the co-op is not officially open yet, that hasn’t stopped the growing excitement for the new organization.

Joe Casteberg currently serves as Secretary and Project Manager of Good Egg Food Co-op. “The Good Egg Food Co-op has numerous goals, almost entirely focused on helping out and further developing our local area,” Casteberg explained. “More importantly, the focus is to bring the best, healthiest, and most ethically-produced food possible to our community.”

Once the co-op officially opens, the committee hopes to have a free in-store library and information center, classes and workshops to assist with the mission. “We plan to do this not because it’s profitable, but because it is the right thing to do for our community,” Casteberg said.

Part of doing what is right for the community means allowing community members to become actively involved in the co-op. While people can purchase stock in the co-op, membership will also be offered to all of the co-op workers and producers. “We plan to have separate membership classes, with equivalent seats on the board, so everyone can and will have a stake and a say in our business,” Casteberg explained. Managing a co-op in this way is known as a ‘hybrid model’ or ‘multi-stakeholder model’, something the committee is proud to offer to the Durand-area community.

While it is not officially open yet, the co-op has already offered one very successful event to the community. The inaugural Farm to Table Dinner Event was held on October 6; the event was a huge success, as it was a way to sample one-of-a-kind local food produced by local farmers and businesses. The event, which raised over $4,000, will assist in the set-up of membership and stock programs in the coming months. Because of the event success in drawing attention to local food producers, organizers hope to offer another similar event in spring 2013.

Good Egg Food Co-op is interested in involving local people that want to promote buying locally, eating healthy foods, and developing a sense of community. To find out about upcoming events and ways you can become involved, please visit www.goodeggfoodcoop.com for more information. Click on the ‘Members’ or ‘Volunteers’ page to discover various committees and for information on how to contact volunteer coordinator Martha Gingras. Donations can also be mailed to Good Egg Food Co-op, P.O. Box 208, Durand, WI 54736.

“We encourage people to get involved now, and help our board of directors make the most important decisions they need to make before the store is opened,” Casteberg concluded.

Yoga Retreat in 2013!

Yogify in the Riviera Maya!
Shambala Petit Hotel, Tulum, Mexico
March 15-22 (6 spots available!)

Whether you’re new to yoga or have an established practice, this daily experience of yoga offers significant evolution for the body and the spirit. For 2+ hours a day we use tools of movement, breath and meditation to cultivate strength and centering. Then we take it off the mat into life! Yoga changes the way you do everything else.

Shambala Petit Hotel is a small, luxury resort that specializes in yoga retreats and offers clean, minimal decor and maximum hospitality. You’ll enjoy the warm blue waters of the Caribbean and magnificent Tulum Beach.

Cost range: $1,100 to $1,800 per person (double occupancy and depending on casita selection) for one week. Includes retreat tuition, 2+ hours of yoga each day, accommodation, three meals a day, a 45-minute Acupressure session with Dotty Bacon and an estimated $100 for ground transportation from Cancun International Airport. It does not include airfare. A $300 deposit is required to reserve your spot. If you have questions or need more information, please email andrea@thirdmountain.com/715-231-9000.

Peace, Love and Bananas

by Amy Annis, Madeline Island Yoga Retreats and Clean Spirit Yoga

I’m becoming a Gorilla.  Not the traditional dark and furry ape that roams the jungle but the yogic kind that roams the urban street of Eau Claire teaching yoga classes to support my community.

It’s not my original idea.  The Gorilla Yogis was the brainchild of Minneapolis Urban dwellers Jess Rosenberg and Nan Arundel who decided that their community would benefit from a monthly yoga class.  Not only would they create unity but they could potentially raise money for community partners.  They had no idea the beautiful ball of karma enclosed in their gorilla paws.

The first event was for the benefit of the Smile Network.  Half expecting 30 yogis to walk in, they taught to a crowd of over 200 raising enough funds to repair a cleft palate for a child.  The experience was exhilarating and they continued to use their talents to re-create fantastic monthly yoga events.  To date they have raised over 30,000 for community partners in the Twin Cities area.

When I called Jess to ask her for a bit of assistance, there wasn’t even a pause.  I had discussed the idea with a few of my favorite Eau Claire yogis, Kristin Polez from Drammen Yoga, Aveen Banich from Life By Design and Amelia Daniels and we were looking for some insight to avoid re-creating the yogic wheel.  Conducive to the true nature of most yogis, Jess didn’t hesitate when I suggested she shared her creative project with us.  “I will help you”, she said.

Thus, the Gorilla Yogis – Eau Claire chapter was established and with karmic ease  out yoga troop leaders have already met with a fantastic response.  Our first event is scheduled at The Children’s Museum in Eau Claire at 10 am on January 26th and 100% of the proceeds raised from that event will go to our community partner.

Life by Design … Come Home to Your Fabulous Self!

Life by Design is a space for many things — yoga, laughter yoga, life coaching, meditation, healing and reiki, design, and life celebrations. However, it was really envisioned as a place for community and connection for conversation and ideas, laughter and friendship, learning and exploring your soul’s purpose.

Conceived by a group of Chippewa Valley women, Life by Design is meant to be a little sanctuary of stillness and peace or a place filled with loud laughter and animated discussions. It all really depends on the day and what you are seeking.

On our sign and print materials, you will see a beautiful emerging butterfly. Richard Buckminster Fuller once said that “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly.” Do you ever feel like there is more to you than you are currently revealing to the world or even to yourself?

As women, we often put our own dreams and self-care on the back burner in order to take care of others. What dream or vision of your life’s purpose currently masquerades as a caterpillar? Perhaps you do not even know yet but have a desire to uncover it.

Through a wide variety of offerings, our dream at Life by Design is to empower and inspire you to explore these dreams and to enhance your well-being and natural awesomeness. Yeah we said it; you are naturally awesome! We all are and at Life by Design we intend to not let you forget it.

Lily Pad Lab

The Lily Pad Lab is excited to announce it will be opening its doors in Mid-January. What is the Lily Pad Lab?

A classroom – a place for kids, alongside their parents, to learn and grow through our stimulating, entertaining and educational, age appropriate classes

A play room – have a cup of coffee or tea, relax on a comfy couch, allow your child to explore all the Lab has to offer.

A community – an opportunity to meet new families and feel connected.

At the Lily Pad Lab our goal to inspire kids to explore the world around them; to capture the curiosity of young children, encourage them to hold on to it and let it guide them as they grow, all right alongside their parent or trusted adult.  Our February/March session of parent/child classes include Tiny Scientists, Art Lab, Lily Pad Test Kitchen, Spanish and Music, The Littlest Lab, and Winter Wiggles.

We will also have Open Lab time in which we will set up stations for kids and parents to explore together including science experiments, art projects, dramatic play, sensory play, etc.  We will also provide educational toys for kids to explore on their own developing a sense of independence and giving parents a chance to relax and observe.

We will also be hosting one-day Family Events, Baby Brunches, and seasonal celebrations.

It is never too early to introduce science vocabulary and concepts.  Science starts with understanding concepts that develop as early as infancy.  One of the first scientific processes is Observation which uses all the senses.  Young children explore the world using their senses.  They look, touch, smell, hear and taste.  All kids are curious and want to know everything about their environment!  Spend this precious time with your child as they explore, discover and develop an understanding for the world they live in!

To register or to find more details on Classes, Events and Open Lab time go to www.lilypadlab.com.  Class sizes are small and they will fill up fast, so register early.

Green Pages » Nov./Dec. ‘12

Eau Galle Cheese Factory

Eau Galle Cheese Factory was founded in 1945 by Leo Buhlman. Leo came to the United States from Switzerland, where he had apprenticed as a cheese maker for eight years. He worked at a number of Wisconsin cheese factories before purchasing the then closed factory in Eau Galle, Wisconsin. The plant has made several different varieties of cheeses over the years including Swiss and Cheddar, but in the 1960s, the plant found its niche with the hard Italian type cheeses.

In 1986, a new state-of-the-art facility was built four miles east of Eau Galle on State Highway 25, two miles north of Durand. The new facility continues to produce the hard Italian type cheeses, a little over nine million pounds of Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses each year and all of the milk used is from local area farms.

With the new facility also came a larger retail outlet store. The store carries hundreds of different varieties of cheese along with local maple syrup, honey, sausage, mustards, and wines. There is also a large collectible and gift store filled with unique gifts and even a year-round Christmas room.

The Eau Galle Cheese Factory continues to be operated by the Buhlman family, which takes great pride in the cheese it produces. In 2011, their Parmesan cheese won an award in the United States Cheese Championship contest and was also featured on NBC’s Today Show.

Eau Galle Cheese is located on Hwy 25 two miles north of Durand and 18 miles south of Menomonie. Store Hours:  Monday – Saturday, 9:00 to 5:30; Sunday, 11:00 to 4:30. Visit our website at www.eaugallecheese.com or call us at 715-283-4211.

River Bend Vineyard & Winery … Growing a Vision

The loss of a job is a life-changing experience and often not a positive one. But for Chippewa Falls’ couple Al and Donna Sachs, the closing of one door prompted the opening of another.

In 2006, Donna lost her position as an IT manager when the company she worked for went through bankruptcy, putting her and 500 others at the corporate headquarters out of work. Ready to leave the Twin Cities, Donna and Al sold their house, bought a 1970s vintage travel trailer, and put down new roots in the Chippewa Valley … literally. That year, the seeds of the vision that would become River Bend Vineyard and Winery were sown in the sandy soils just west of Chippewa Falls. Six years later, River Bend has eight acres of vineyard comprised of 4,600 grapevines and a tasting room that hosts thousands of visitors each year from around the state and across the country.

“Al and I had a vision to create a classy yet comfortable atmosphere where people could enjoy a glass of locally produced wine with a view of the fields where the fruit was actually grown.” Working with the University of Minnesota’s grape breeding program, five grape varieties that can withstand a Wisconsin winter and ripen quickly in a short summer were planted. “California varieties like Chardonnay and Merlot would not make it here,” Donna explains. “You need to come from pretty hardy stock to survive in this climate.”

Because the varieties grown in the Midwest are different from those grown in California, the wines they produce are different, too. “Dry reds are a challenge in a cold growing region,” Donna admits, “but we do have a variety called Marquette that is a close descendent of Pinot Noir.” When made as a dry red wine, Marquette produces what River Bend calls a “friendly” red … medium bodied with nice dark fruit that pairs easily with many foods. A rosé called Magenta has become River Bend’s flagship. Also produced from a local grape called Frontenac, Magenta has been the best seller at the winery since its inception. “Another release we’re excited about,” says Donna, “is our first sparkling wines which debut in December.” Sparkling wines are traditionally grown in cooler regions and Donna states “it just makes sense to listen to the fruit … to play to its strengths instead of trying to turn it into something that it’s not.”

For Al and Donna, River Bend plays to their strengths as well, more so than the careers they’ve left behind. One door closed, but another one opened. “It all starts with a vision,” Donna says. “Then you put your head down and get back to work.”