David Devere, Wine Tasting: Terroir, Tips, and Tastes

The world of wine is large and diverse. Does navigating the wine aisle intimidate you? Do you look at the restaurant’s wine list and just pick a color and price? Do you struggle with deciding what to pair with what food?

This presentation will cover simple techniques to improve your wine experience. Learn how to understand what wine tastes like before you open the bottle. Learn simple concepts to properly pair wine with a meal. We will discuss how wine is made, labeled, and priced. We will sip, swirl, taste, evaluate, and decode why one wine is scored 80 points and another is scored 90. This is a fun, easy-going discussion about humanity’s oldest libation, wine.


Mick Dodds, An Introduction to Ski Waxing

Mick Dodds of The Ski Hut in Duluth has been helping cross-country skiers in the Northland get the most from their ski waxing for years. In the presentation, Mick will demystify ski waxing for the recreational cross-country skier. He’ll describe the materials, tools, and waxes that recreational skiers should know and the most trouble-free ways of choosing and applying waxes to match weather and snow conditions, your skiing style, and more.


Jill Forte, Farm to Table: A Chef’s Perspective

The importance of eating local food is about more than just reducing our carbon footprint. It’s also about the flavor! Executive chef at Sara’s Table, Jill Forte believes that cooking well comes down to the taste and freshness of the product that is used; high quality ingredients speak for themselves, and the difference is obvious to the palette. Come and learn about the differences of locally produced food versus big box store ingredients and how to make informed choices about what you eat. We will put our taste buds to practice as we sample locally produced vegetables and learn some simple preparations for things that are grown right here in Duluth!


Jerry Fryberger, The Port of Duluth-Superior: Mid-America’s Gateway

Each year, millions of tons and billions of dollars move through the Port of Duluth-Superior. As the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, it handles some 38 million tons of waterborne cargo each year—millions more by road and rail. Anchoring the western tip of this binational waterway, the Port has been one of the biggest drivers of the regional economy for more than a century; since 1959 it has also served as a vital link for both domestic and international trade. A storied economic powerhouse, the Port has dramatically shaped the fate of the region.

But what happens at the Port? Master storyteller Jerry Fryberger will weave together little known facts and tantalizing trivia about the Port—helping to unlock mysteries about the ships that ply the Lakes and the cargoes they transport.


George Killough, Sinclair Lewis in Duluth

Nobel-Prize-winner Sinclair Lewis returned to Minnesota in 1942 (and to Duluth in 1944) to establish a new connection with his native state. He stayed in Duluth two years, living at the corner of 26th Avenue East and 2nd Street. During that time, he kept diaries which included, among others, his interactions with personalities and families of note and his observations of the high society of Duluth. Presenter George Killough edited these Minnesota Diaries: 1942-1946.

Although Lewis’ 1920 novel Main Street gave him a reputation for despising small-town Midwestern culture, the author loved Minnesota. While in Duluth, he worked on two novels, Cass Timberlane and Kingsblood Royal, both set in a city patterned after Duluth. This presentation will explore Lewis’s relationship with Duluth and discuss his portrayal of northern race prejudice in Kingsblood Royal.


Mayor Don Ness, In His Own Words

We’ve borne witness to his political journey—ups, downs, unqualified successes, painful public mishaps and all. Now Mayor Don Ness will give us a glimpse into writing his first book and the process of constructing a curious compilation of essays, anecdotes, illustrations, a bit of verse, and a bunch of photographs reflecting on a young elected official’s adventures in Duluth municipal elections, city governance, live music, craft beer, mountain biking, and more embarrassing public life and political lessons than a book this size ought to include. And he will share his secret to writing seventy-word sentences, like the one above.

In this presentation, Don will reflect on the process of writing and self-publishing his first book and will read a selection of his favorite essays from his book, Hillsider: Snapshots of a Curious Political Journey.


David Sproat, MD, Ars Moriendi: The Art of Dying

In past centuries in Western culture, it was a matter of pride to accomplish a “good death.” This was a spiritual event, the dying person surrounded by family, to provide comfort and hear last words; then, once dead, lovingly bathed and enshrouded in preparation for burial. Death was a frequent visitor to many families. Following the Civil War and into the late twentieth century, this model has changed a great deal. In the words of Abraham Verghese: “In America . . . death or the possibility of it always seemed to come as a surprise, as if we took it for granted that we were immortal, and that death was just an option.” This presentation will address the nature of dying and our attempts to come to terms with it in modern society.


Emily and Joel Vikre, The Story of a Duluth Distillery

Everyone who lives in Duluth experiences the powerful influence of Lake Superior on daily life. Emily and Joel Vikre, inspired by the lake and the natural resources of this area, abandoned busy careers on the East Coast to move to Duluth to start Vikre Distillery. Here they craft handmade spirits that explore and express the unique character of the land and people here.

The Vikres will tell the story of Vikre Distillery. They will let participants sample local flavors through spirits. They will also discuss entrepreneurship and running a business in Duluth. Finally, they will explore the idea of terroir as an expression of the unique characteristics of the nature and culture of an area—and how recognizing, celebrating, and capitalizing on our terroir has the potential to shape the local economy in a variety of ways.