Minnesota Wineries That Are Worth the Trip
Your next summer activity should be having a relaxing day sipping some Minnesota wine at one of these premiere wineries
Photo by Tony Kubat
The local wine industry here in Minnesota has grown substantially in the last two decades, from two licensed wineries in 1990 to over 70 today. Each winery is unique in it’s own way, some are known for providing couples with their dream wedding, some have equal quality beer or cider in addition to wine, and some host unique events for adults and families. Although some of these wineries may be a bit of a drive, they are certainly worth the trip.
Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Hastings
More than 40 years ago, the Bailly family planted the first vineyard in Minnesota, subsequently creating the first wine tasting room in the state. The Alexis Bailly Vineyard tasting room, which opened in 1978, released the first wines ever produced commercially of 100 percent Minnesota grown grapes. The second generation of the Bailly family continues on the proud tradition of making wine in the harsh Minnesota climate. Enjoy a picnic by the vineyard, take a stroll through the sculpture park, or play a game of bocce ball on one of their courts. Make sure to try Voyageur, Alexis Bailly Vineyard’s signature wine and voted “Best Wine in MN” by Minnesota Monthly in November of 2012. Alexis Bailly Vineyard is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday April through December.
Cannon River Winery, Cannon Falls
Sitting among the rich, rolling hills of Minnesota’s striking Sogn Valley, Cannon River Winery’s Vineyard is home to more than 9,000 vines on 40 acres of land. Cannon River works tirelessly to create quality wines that meet their customer’s highest expectations. The winery also features live music every Saturday and Sunday, so kick back with a glass of their delicious Minnesota Marquette red wine and listen to some lovely tunes. Only a short drive from the Twin Cities and Rochester, this premium winery is certainly worth the trip. Summer hours at Cannon River are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Carlos Creek Winery, Alexandria
Not only does Carlos Creek Winery produce some of the best wine in the state, but they also provide their guests with a darn good time. The tasting bar serves up pizza and live music on weekends. The three-day Grape Stomp Festival occurs every September and includes live music on four stages, food, artists, and hundreds of teams competing to crush 10,000 pounds of grapes with their feet. They also have a Summer Solstice event on June 21, with live music, food and beverages, yoga, bocce ball, and a bonfire. Try the semi-sweet Hot Dish Red or the Riesling-esque Wobegon White. Make a day of it by checking out the winery and the self-guided tours they offer. While you're in Alexandria, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Kensington Runestone at the heart of the Runestone Museum or go walk the hills of beautiful Kensington Park. From June to August, the winery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Four Daughters Vineyards & Winery, Spring Valley
Four Daughters Vineyards & Winery was voted one of America’s best winery restaurants in 2017 by USA Today. Four Daughters is a fully operational winery, cidery, restaurant, and event center in rural Southeastern Minnesota (half an hour south of Rochester). Their wine has been served at the 2015 Universal Music Group’s Country Music Awards after-party and various events during the 2015 SXSW film festival, but their proudest moment was when the Sundance Institute asked them to the official provider for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Four Daughters’ sprawling estate includes a tasting room and large production areas, as well as a 6-acre vineyard. They are the exclusive home of Four Daughters wines, Sunflake wines, and Loon Juice hard cider. Four Daughters Vineyards & Winery is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m.to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Millner Heritage Winery & Cidery, Kimball
Millner Heritage Winery & Cidery offers wine tastings, vineyard and winery tours, live music, and yummy pizza from local favorite Keek’s. You can even take painting classes at Millner Heritage while sipping on one of their delicious wines or ciders. Try Minnesota Crisp, their first carbonated hard apple cider, or take a sip of Little Iza. Named after the owner’s daughter, this sweet white wine won the Governor’s Cup for Best Wine made in Minnesota in 2013. This summer, Millner Heritage Winery and Cider is open Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Morgan Creek Vineyards, New Ulm
Morgan Creek Vineyards, the state's only underground winery, specializes in growing and producing German, French, and American style wines, including Minnesota cold-hardy varietals. Morgan Creek uses environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture business practices that have been in place since its start in 1993. Just some of their summer events include a Sunday yoga and brunch event; a Gewurtztraminer Release Celebration, where they will celebrate the community’s German heritage in conjunction with the release of their signature German white wine; and jazz nights every Saturday. Summer hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saint Croix Vineyards, Stillwater
Saint Croix Vineyards has been innovating some of Minnesota’s best wines for the last 27 years. Visit St. Croix Vineyards for a wine tasting, a wine-making tour, live music, a picnic, and a stroll through their stunning vineyards. Their rustic tasting room is a restored century-old barn located just west of the historic river town of Stillwater. Don't miss the vineyard's three must-see events this summer, including a Cheese and Chocolate Weekend; a Red, White & Sangria event; and a Wine Meets Art Festival. St. Croix Vineyards wines have won more than 100 prestigious awards in national and international competitions, even winning the top prize at the 2015 International Cold Climate Wine Competition. St. Croix Vineyards is open this summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery, Waconia
Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery was started by a farm boy with a love for making wine and an uptown girl with a taste for wine and beer. The couple opened their doors in Waconia in 2013 as a winery and soon after added a brewery as well. Schram Vineyards provides a beautiful setting inside and outside to enjoy their hand-crafted wine and beer, all made on-site. They offer their quality beer and wine through tastings, by the glass, wine bottle, and growler sales. The winery/brewery has different food tucks throughout the week, in addition to their own Schram Kitchen, which offers cheese trays, pizzas, chocolates, and more. Take part in the Vine to Wine tasting and tour experience, enjoy your choice of wine or beer while playing bocce ball on one of the two courts alongside the vineyard, or book a group wine tasting with 12 of your closest friends. Visit Schram during their summer hours: Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Wild Mountain Winery, Taylors Falls
Located on one of the highest points in Chisago County, Wild Mountain Winery is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine while gazing out at the picturesque St. Croix River. There is free live music every Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Wild Mountain Winery is included in the Upper St. Croix Wine Trail, which is a self-guided wine tour of four family-owned wineries that sit along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Along the trail you can enjoy stunning views of the river valley, lush farmlands, and thick woodlands while also stopping at restaurants, shops, and trails. Wild Mountain Winery’s summer hours are 2 to 7 p.m. on Friday, noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
WineHaven Winery and Vineyard, Chisago City
In 1995, the Peterson family founded Chisago County's first estate winery, WineHaven Winery and Vineyard, and it has been a cornerstone of Minnesota winemaking ever since. Sitting between three lakes and surrounded by rolling hills, the vineyard provides beautiful views and unique wines, some of which are from grape varietals that are not grown anywhere else in the world. Coming up this weekend is the 22nd annual Raspberries and Wine Festival. Explore the 50-acre estate of WineHaven in an authentic European horse-drawn carriage, get some lunch from one of the delicious food trucks, do some shopping with local vendors like LuLaRoe and Trades of Hope, and of course take part in a wine tasting. WineHaven is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.