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Winery, brewery and distillery hope customers come crawling

Adam Graf (left) one of the owners of Copper Trail Brewing in Alexandria explains the brewing process to Carlos Creek Winery and Panther Distillery employees as they prepare to launch the Skal Crawl promotion. (Lowell Anderson | Echo Press)1 / 4
Shenae Morical (right) explains some of the process of distilling alcohol at Panther Distillery in Osakis. (Jeff Beach | Echo Press)2 / 4
Tami Bredeson of Carlos Creek Winery explains some of the differences in the various wines produced to visitors from Copper Trail Brewing and Panther Distillery as they prepare to launch the Skal Crawl promotion. (Lowell Anderson | Echo Press)3 / 4
Employees of Copper Trail Brewing, Carlos Creek Winery and Panther Distillery give a “ska!” while visiting the brewery as they prepare to launch the Skal Crawl promotion. (Lowell Anderson | Echo Press)4 / 4

Wine, whiskey and beer.

Douglas County is unique in the state of Minnesota in being able to boast producers of all three types of alcoholic beverages.

And, like three legs of a bar stool, the three businesses are joining forces to market the Alexandria area as place to visit, sample and enjoy all three on the same day or weekend.

The three businesses, Carlos Creek Winery, Panther Distillery and Copper Trail Brewing are forming what they call the Skal Crawl beginning June 1.

"The idea was to give an an experience that isn't available anywhere in the state," said Liana Lien, office manager at Panther Distillery. "We want to showcase something that is rare and unique to the area."

Skal — pronounced skawl, the crawl organizers say — is "derived from the Old Norse language to toast; a raising of glasses while drinking and saying cheers."

Lien said the Viking theme plays into other attractions in the area, such as the Runestone Museum and Big Ole Viking statue in Alexandria.

The Skal Crawl promotion offers visitors the opportunity to start at any of the three stops on the tour. With the purchase of a $15 Skal Crawl punch card, participants get a tasting glass and T-shirt. They also get $2 off sampling at each location and after each location is visited, a discount card for each of the locations on the next visit.

"It doesn't have to be done in one day," Lien said, but could be if a group has a designated driver.

The crawl can be spread out over a weekend or over several weekends of the summer.

Earlier in May, staff members from the three businesses did a crawl of their own, to familiarize themselves with the offerings to help patrons know what they can expect at the other locations:

Carlos Creek: The winery north of Alexandria is set on a former horse farm and hosts a variety of events and entertainment in addition to bottling award-winning wines with locally grown grapes.

Copper Trail Brewing: The newest member of the Skal Crawl group, Alexandria's first brewery in 70 years opened in December 2016. The craft brewery is in the Willow Creek complex along 30th Avenue East in Alexandria.

Panther Distillery: Founded in 2011 as Minnesota's first craft distillery and located in Osakis, the business has several products ready to come of age this year, and will be releasing a honey whiskey, a maple whiskey and a clear rum.

Michelle Bredeson, vice president of marketing and sales at Carlos Creek, said one of the other goals of the promotion is to "highlight the very local elements to our growing and production."

Panther employees grow some of their grains, Copper Trail is beginning use Minnesota hops and Carlos Creek has its own vineyard.

"The agriculture side of it is kind of a unique thing," Bredeson said.

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