“An entrepreneurial fire with a passion for business. As proprietor of Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, Kent feels strongly about giving back to the local community that afforded him so many opportunities.”
Just as the grapes of Chankaska are forming a lineage of excellence, the Schwickert family line has fostered a legacy of hard work, passion and entrepreneurial fire. This spirit and flame continues with Kent Schwickert, proprietor of Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery.
The Schwickert name may already be familiar to those in the Mankato and surrounding area. In 1906, Kent’s grandfather, George Schwickert, established Schwickert Hardware in Waterville, Minnesota. With sound business practice, it prospered and is presently a leading facility systems contractor in the Midwest. Kent followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps to boldly lead the Schwickert Companies, along with his brother, Kim, into the next generation.
Born and raised in Mankato, Kent graduated from Mankato West High School in 1977. He left Mankato for college, simultaneously attending Dunwoody Technical Institute and the University of Minnesota, both in Minneapolis, MN. He graduated from each respective institution, receiving a BA Degree in Economics and Finance from the U of M in 1982.
Since his return to Mankato in 1982, Kent has devoted his career to helping build the family business. His efforts were so successful that in 2000, the business became a founding company of Tecta America Corporation, a national provider for roofing services. Whatever venture he is involved in, Kent strives to not only provide excellence, but also broaden the scope and reach of the business.
This passion and zeal for business extends to Kent’s work with Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. Here, he can utilize the combination of his entrepreneurial drive, business acumen and also foster a deep connection to the Southern Minnesota ground on which he was raised. He loves the duality and challenge of balancing the diverse and special needs of both companies he represents.
Just as the roots of the grape vines yield something beautiful to share with the community, Kent is adamant about establishing strong roots in the surrounding area and giving back time and resources to the community he cherishes. He sits on a number of local Boards and Advisory positions. He also actively seeks out philanthropic ventures for both businesses to partner with as a means of strengthening the community he loves.
Kent is married to Jane Haldorson-Schwickert, also an active partner in, and general manager of Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. He has two grown children, Ian and Greta. He feels fortunate to be able to take his family with him on the journey to making Chankaska one of the most prominent wineries in the Midwest.
Our General Manager
“Coming from a background that is as unique and diversified as our wines and spirits, Jane Schwickert adds an irreplaceable note of creativity and organization to Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery as our General Manager.”
Coming from a background that is as unique and diversified as our wines and spirits, Jane Schwickert adds an irreplaceable note of creativity and organization to Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery as our General Manager. Present from the very inception of our winery, Jane is a shareholder and partnered with our chief manager, her husband, Kent. Together, they share the dream and mission of making Chankaska one of the most prominent wineries in the Midwest.
Jane draws from the experience of several roles to compliment her management style at Chankaska. She is the mother to two wonderful children whom she is proud to involve in the business to give them ‘real world’ experience. She is the wife of an incredibly busy entrepreneur and joins him in strategically bringing their dreams to fruition. She is a former registered nurse and the sense of order, systems management and compassion she learned from this occupation is utilized at Chankaska daily!
Like her husband, Jane is also a community activist, wanting to give back to projects that will make her community stronger and healthier. And, of course, Jane is a wine connoisseur, and uses her distinguished palate to influence the wine offerings at Chankaska. She loves keeping ahead of industry trends in the wine world to ensure that Chankaska offerings are current and relevant.
Believing that to truly offer a well-rounded variety of wines, one must pull from a variety of experiences, Jane is proud to have visited over 100 wineries both at home and abroad. She has a distinct passion for adventure and travel and uses this exposure to enrich the Chankaska experience for our guests.
Jane’s leadership skills, creativity, proficiency, and her knowledge of the community, are employed every day as she manages four teams and over 30 staff members. In a world of wine that is typically dominated by men she is proud to represent her fellow sisters in this business. She feels strongly about affording future opportunities to women who wish to be involved in the exciting wine world of the future!
“A true innovator in the artistry of winemaking, Mike Drash brings his vast experience, pioneering spirit and wonderful sense of fun to the ranch as Chankaska’s Vice President of Winemaking and Official Winemaker.”
A true innovator in the artistry of winemaking, Mike Drash brings his vast experience, pioneering spirit and wonderful sense of fun to the ranch as Chankaska’s Vice President of Winemaking and Official Winemaker.
Mike moved to the Midwest from the winery rich Napa/Sonoma area of California. It was there that the winemaker made a name for himself with his top-notch vintages and as an elected board member of the Napa County Farm Bureau. Chankaska Creek is proud to have someone with so vast of an experience be an integral part of our family.
After starting a family of their own, Mike and his wife, Tracy, felt the desire to return to their small town roots. This led them to relocating to the Midwest, where Tracy is originally from. They were matched with our area through a search firm that is dedicated to serving the wine community and fostering partnership between experts throughout the nation.
Prior to assuming the role as winemaker at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery, Drash began his career as a cellar hand at De Loach. Two years later, he took a position working in the cellar and lab at Chateau de Baun, a winery that was later purchased by Kendall Jackson. Next, he spent some time at J Wine Company where he later became its sparkling wines production manager. An opportunity later arose at the prestigious Far Niente Winery and Drash acquired the role of assistant winemaker to Dirk Hampson. A few years later, another great opportunity knocked at his door and Mike became the winemaker for Luna Vineyards.
After 17 years of winemaking under his belt in America’s wine country, Mike and his wife purchased Tallulah Winery. Tallulah is also the name of their daughter who was three-years-old at the time. Drash owned and operated Tallulah Winery where his artisan winemaker approach and focus on sustainable viticulture earned him high marks from wine critics all over the world.
Just as he is passionate about the craft he loves, Mike knew he needed to be part of a team whose vision he had synergy with and whom matched his drive and enthusiasm. He is excited to have found that with Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. Together they share the goal of elevating Minnesota to the forefront of the wine world.
Our Assistant Winemaker
“As Chankaska’s Assistant Winemaker, Josie brings international experience, vibrant energy, and an insightful and artistic approach to our winemaking.”
Finding her calling early in life, Josie Boyle first became intrigued by the wine making process in high school. She saw that it was a unique blend of science and artistry and would keep her challenged in an industry that is constantly evolving. As Chankaska’s Assistant Winemaker, Josie brings international experience, vibrant energy, and an insightful and artistic approach to our winemaking.
Josie’s interest in winemaking blossomed in college. She discovered a love of tasting wines and identifying key flavors, aromas and notes. Following her passion, Josie studied abroad in Paris, which exposed her to an even larger world of winemaking history, culture and tradition. As fate would have it, she found an Enology program in Des Moines, Iowa, upon her return to the US.
After completing this program, Josie’s career in the wine industry took her to New Zealand where she worked at a winery in the North Island. From there, she moved to Traverse City, Michigan where she took a position with L. Mawby Vineyards. At Mawby, Josie learned all aspects of sparkling wine production and quickly moved up the ranks to cellar master.
Like so many of us, Josie decided to return home to her roots and family. She knew that the wine industry was starting to take special note of Midwest wines and she wanted to be at the forefront of this paradigm shift. Luckily for Chankaska, Josie found her way to us and now plays a pivotal role in our winery.
As assistant winemaker, Josie utilizes her expertise analyzing the chemistry of the wines. She also assists Winemaker, Mike Drash, in other duties like filtering, cleaning, maintaining a good barrel program and blending. Josie loves that winemaking involves physical work but that it also mentally challenging and requires creativity to stay relevant. She feels strongly that beyond being a science, winemaking is truly an art of the senses.
Our Grounds And Vineyard Manager
“Although he is one of the youngest in the Chankaska family, Jamieson brings the wealth of his childhood and young adult experience of growing up on a vineyard to his role as our grounds and vineyard manager.”
While other children’s parents were planting gardens, Jamison Lindquist’s parents were planting a vineyard! A little more than a decade ago, his parents took a life-changing trip to California. They were so inspired by the process and culture of winemaking; they decided to plant a vineyard upon their return! Jamieson, only 8 years old at the time, took an active roll in working the vineyard, from planting vines, placing grow tubes and building a trellis system to help train the vines. Although he is one of the youngest in the Chankaska family, Jamieson brings the wealth of his childhood and young adult experience of growing up on a vineyard to his role as our grounds and vineyard manager.
Also bestowed with an entrepreneurial drive, Jamieson, at the age of 14, started his own lawn-mowing business. As luck would have it, a local vineyard owner saw his ad and inquired if he had experience in pruning and maintaining a vineyard. As a result, Jamieson worked at Prairie Pond Vineyard for a few years and at the end of his tenure, managed over 3,900 vines.
Jamieson credits his former boss for teaching him sound and advanced vineyard techniques. Simultaneously, he continued to learn from experiences in his own family’s vineyard. In turn, Jamieson quickly realized a deep-rooted passion for cold-climate viticulture.
After high school, Jamieson started attending South Central College where he is currently studying Business Agricultural Production. He is also enrolled in the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA). He feels fortunate to follow an educational and career path that is direct sync with his passions.
Jamieson’s responsibilities at the winery include grounds management and collaborating with vineyard specialist, Rachel Mueller. He loves being able to do what he loves, like taking care of and nurturing our vines, maintaining the health and virility of our grounds, and keeping all equipment in working order. No easy feat on a vineyard!
It’s no wonder that the independent documentary, “Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland,” chose to feature Jamieson in their film. His commitment is on full display as the director captures him babysitting and heat fanning our grapes from 10pm to 6:30am on a freezing night in April. If the grapes had frozen, we would have lost our entire crop.
If these acts don’t show love, dedication and commitment to our grapes and the Chankaska family, we’re not sure what does. Jamieson directly reflects the perseverance, patience and dedication to the craft of winemaking. It is truly a labor of love.
Our Minnesota Distribution Sales Manager
“In his role as Minnesota Distribution Sales Manager, Nick carefully farms and builds lasting relationships with over 300 accounts in the state that carry Chankaska Wines.”
To fulfill Chankaska’s dream of extending the reach of our wine’s exposure and availability, we needed an exceptional talent to take our message, mission and wine to the masses! We found that in Nick Paterson. In his role as Minnesota Distribution Sales Manager, Nick carefully farms and builds lasting relationships with over 300 accounts in the state that carry Chankaska Wines.
Nick is home grown! He was born and raised in the Mankato area and graduated from Mankato West High School in 2001. After graduation he moved to Phoenix Arizona to pursue a business degree at Arizona State University. Working in the highly competitive golf industry, Nick honed his skills at building relationships and working as a team.
Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery originally hired Nick on a part-time basis in 2013 to begin the distribution of our wines in Minnesota. He took to the position right away and was promoted to a full-time position to continue building accounts throughout the state. Since then, he has acquired over 150 accounts and helped get Chankaska's distribution to nearly 300 accounts statewide in liquor stores, restaurants, hotels, resorts, golf courses and professional sport arenas.
Nick loves that the world of wine is fast paced, sophisticated and constantly evolving. It allows him to utilize his creativity and know that there will always be room to grow with the opportunities the wine industry affords him. Building relationships with accounts based on respect, honesty and incredible customer service are his paramount business values. He is proud to play a role in elevating the exposure of Chankaska wines throughout the country.
Our Tasting Room Manager
“With Chankaska from the very beginning, Kelsey Long’s role as Tasting Room Manager includes guiding our guests through the sensory journey of experiencing our wines, and helping to educate our team on the story behind each vintage.”
With Chankaska from the very beginning, Kelsey Long’s role as our Tasting Room Manager has grown and flourished as much as our wines! Her journey began with us behind the Tasting Room bar. It was in this position that she learned and began to appreciate the power that wine has to draw people together as they commemorate special occasions. To witness the public choosing Chankaska to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, the birth of babies, and friendships truly touched her. In turn, she made a habit of striving to make each experience unique, educational, and memorable for guests in our Tasting Room.
Kelsey and her family reside in Mankato and can’t think of a better place to raise their 5-year-old daughter, Tenley! Together they enjoy the incredible outdoor activities that this area has to offer and the stunning scenery of the Southern Minnesota River Valley. She loves relaxing with her family outdoors on beautiful summer nights and enjoying a glass of her favorite Chankaska wine, Reserve Merlot.
Beyond the extensive responsibilities of Tasting Room Manager, Kelsey also plays an integral role in educating the rest of the staff about each wine. She has helped to create a strong culture of knowledge at Chankaska that empowers the staff to make intelligent recommendations to our guests. Kelsey is adamant that an educated guest will have an enhanced appreciation and enjoyment of the wine and sprits they purchase.
In her role, there is nothing Kelsey loves more than guiding our guests through the sensory journey of experiencing our wines and helping to educate the team on the story behind each vintage. Chankaska is proud to have such a wonderful educator who is passionate about the experience our guests have when they visit our Tasting Room!