Garvin Heights Vineyards and Trester Trolley owner Clarence Russell were the recipients of Visit Winona’s 2017 Excellence in Tourism Awards presented to an organization and an individual that work to enhance Winona as a destination for visitors.

Garvin Heights Vineyards, which is owned by Marv and Linda Seppanen, officially opened as a winery in 2007 and since that time has networked, educated, and promoted to place Winona on the map of the state’s wine trails.

After his friend Don Trester’s death in 2007, Clarence Russell carried forward the torch of Trester’s dream to outfit Winona with a trolley that would give tours of the city. Russell now owns two trolleys and provides city tours daily to locals and visitors alike.

“Winona is a remarkable destination thanks to the efforts of people like Clarence and the Seppanens,” Visit Winona Executive Director Pat Mutter told the gathering of community members at the awards reception on May 9. “We are so fortunate to have such passionate people here who follow their dreams for the benefit of us all.”

Tourism is a powerful economic driver for the community, Winona Mayor Mark Peterson told the audience, and the growth it stimulates makes Winona not only an exciting place to visit, but also a truly wonderful place to live. He praised the work of Visit Winona in championing the cause of tourism in the community, and the partner businesses that collaborate with the organization to make their efforts reach farther.

As part of that collaboration with Visit Winona, a number of area restaurants provided hors d’oeuvres for the evening’s festivities. Winona area resident Barbara Feiten won a bottle of Garvin Heights Vineyards wine for creating her own “Winona-themed” wine label at the event.

For more information, contact Visit Winona at 507-452-0735, by email at, or visit