Edit ModuleShow Tags

Where the Grapes Can Suffer


A large purple banner welcomes visitors to the Alexis Bailly Vineyard near Hastings, celebrating 40 years of growing grapes and making wine in Minnesota, where, according to the winery slogan, “the grapes can suffer.” Four decades of suffering have obviously honed the rough edges off of many of our native varietals, creating the ingredients for some very fine wine as I learned during a recent weekend visit.

Some might call Nan Bailly the founding winemaker for Minnesota. Her father, David, first planted the vineyard in 1973 and began experimenting with grapes more prone to cold weather climates. Five years later, the vineyard opened its tasting room and released the “first wines ever produced commercially of 100 percent Minnesota grown grapes,” according to their website.

The vineyard’s namesake arrives from a Minnesota voyageur ancestry, and Alexis Bailly plays with the heritage in other ways as well. Among the grapes in which Bailly has experimented with over the past decades include French hybrids called Marechal Foch and Leon Millot, which were the varieties first planted 40 years ago. Bailly blends these grapes with Minnesota’s own Frontenac, which in 1990 was the first grape released by the University of Minnesota from its cold climate viticulture research. The resulting wine is appropriately called Voyageur, and it was my personal favorite during my visit.

Nan took over the winery when her father died in 1990. Over the past couple of decades, she has developed a reputation for expertly blending wines into interesting blends. Ratafia is the name of a dessert wine that has come to be associated with Alexis Bailly. This fortified red wine is infused with orange flavors and other herbs and spices to make an interesting aperitif. If you like dessert wines, a personal favorite of mine is called ISES, a sweet white made in the style of a German ice wine or Eiswein. In Alexis Bailly’s version, La Crescent and Frontenac Gris grapes are frozen. Once the ice is removed, what’s left behind is a juice that’s naturally sweet with its higher sugar content, with resulting notes of honey and citrus.

If you visit, plan to stay and enjoy the grounds. Over the years the vineyard has added seating in its outdoor patio spaces, including a sculpture garden and two vine-covered bocce ball courts. In recent years the vineyard has also expanded its tasting room to include a small shop that features local cheeses and sausages. I can’t think of a better way to spend an autumn afternoon enjoying the countryside.


Alexis Bailly Vineyard
18200 Kirby Avenue South, Hastings
651-437-1413, www.abvwines.com

May until Thanksgiving: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
April and December:
 Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
Closed Christmas through March

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Hit the Road for a Fall Weekend in Alexandria, Minnesota

When fall comes around in Alexandria, Minnesota, the leaves aren’t the only things that are colorful. The fall festivals and events in Alexandria brighten up the first chilly months and give life to the city that lives on the lake during its summer.

Lantern Light Festival Celebrates Chinese Culture at Canterbury Park

Shakopee is the temporary home of dazzling lanterns illuminated in lights, Chinese performances, and a unique family-friendly experience.

Get Ready for a Sweat Fest

ALTR’s fitness classes in Minneapolis' North Loop are a high-octane thrill ride with a one-way ticket to shredded

Photographing the City on Your Lunch Break

Local photographer Wayne Moran leads afternoon tours through picture-perfect Minneapolis

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: October

Help out mothers and children dealing with homelessness, fight against cancer, and contribute to a north Minneapolis bakery with the Cookie Cart.

Best Minnesota Town Last Call for Votes

Help one of these 10 cities advance to the finals for a chance to win a party in their town, $50,000 toward an advertising campaign, and an editorial feature in Minnesota Monthly magazine.

New Fall Drinks at Tattersall Harvestival

The NE Minneapolis distillery features four apple-based drinks to celebrate autumn

Small Press, Big Impact: Graywolf's 2nd Literary Salon

Graywolf invited writers Layli Long Soldier, Carmen Maria Machado, and Danez Smith to the stage to challenge the status quo

New Places to Shop and Eat at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

MSP Airport's revamp just bumped it up to 6th best in North America—now with indoor food trucks, local brews, therapy dogs, and a golfing simulator

From Writer to Mid-Wife: St. Paul Writing Workshops Highlight Strength in Vulnerability This Month

Leading workshops through October, St. Paul author Ellen Sue Stern on the healing of writing

DNR Predicts Unusually Vibrant Fall Colors: Find the Best Spots

The MN DNR is predicting an especially colorful fall season due to ideal summer weather conditions. We found five spots around the state—including Lanesboro and Lake Superior—with great autumn views.

Duluth Indie Bookstore Celebrates Opening

Zenith Bookstore opens in the face of Amazon and free two-day shipping—because this Duluth retired couple knows that people love shopping small

What It Means to Light Up the St. Anthony Lock

A colorful light show fills the now-defunct lock with its own history

Save the Date for Unveiled Bridal Show September 17

Unveiled isn't just a bridal show, it's a fun and memorable experience.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags