Visitors looking to experience the magic of wineries needn’t look farther than the state boundary, with dozens of Minnesota-native vineyards surrounding the Twin Cities. Same goes for those who want to celebrate fall with a glass of cider. (What can we say? We have everything in the North Star state.) Here are some of the nearest wineries and a quartet of Minneapolis ciders for your fall day trip pleasures.
7 Vines Vineyards
Just 20 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, 7 Vines Vineyard in Dellwood offers the experience of a fine winery paired with the Midwestern charm of rolling fields. In 2012, the first vines were planted by owners Ron and Arlie Peltier, and now, eight years later, the vineyard spreads across 10 acres with more than 5,500 sprawling vines. The new modern-yet-rustic winery is an ideal location for not only tasting but dining, too, with a full food menu at the wine bar. 7 Vines is also known for its selection of University of Minnesota derived cold-hardy grapes, including the Marquette, Frontenac, Frontenac Blanc, Frontenac Gris, La Crescent, and Itasca varieties. If you’re looking to stop at a few nearby wineries, check out St. Croix Vineyards and Northern Vineyards Winery, both located in Stillwater.
Alexis Bailly Vineyard
Alexis Bailly Vineyard—Minnesota’s first recorded vineyard—is located about 30 miles southeast of the Twin Cities in Hastings. Established in 1978, the winery’s tasting room released the first wines to ever be commercially produced with 100 percent Minnesota-grown grapes. Today, the vineyard is home to its signature red wine Voyageur, named Best Wine Made in America at the Atlanta International Wine Competition after its release. Visitors can spend the day tasting Voyageur and other signature wines, picnicking in the park, playing bocce ball or appreciating the vineyard’s eco-friendly practices. Other nearby destinations include Falconer Vineyards in Red Wing and Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls.
Millner Heritage Vineyard and Winery
Wine and brewing have been a long-standing tradition in the Millner family, tracing back to the late 1800s. To this day, the Millner family continues its legacy with the Millner Heritage Vineyard and Winery. Located in Kimball, a 1.5-hour drive from the Twin Cities, the destination is known for a few unique attributes such as its fun events (like tractor tours of the vineyard), its funky and funny bottle names including “What the Foch!” and “Schnickelfritz.” With plans to expand, this winery and vineyard (along with nearby Crow River Winery in Hutchinson and Buffalo Rock Winery in Buffalo) is surely not to be missed. After exploring the wineries, visit the nature trails and outdoor picnic areas at Willow Creek Park.
Minneapolis Cider Co.
New to the cider scene is Minneapolis Cider Co., the latest taproom and production facility to grace Northeast Minneapolis with a selection of vegan-friendly and gluten-free ciders, cocktails, and food. For less drinking and more doing, make your own take-home batch of cider at one of the taproom’s weekly classes.
Number 12 Cider
As children, Number 12 Cider founders Steve Hance and Colin Post began their friendship stealing apples from their neighbors’ trees. Today, they offer 16 lines of housemade ciders at their very own cider house. For a perfect pairing, snag a wood-fired pizza from Little Tomato, sold just outside the North Loop joint.
Sociable Cider Werks
Whether you’re craving a cider that’s dry and tart, floral and smooth, or warm and rich, Sociable Cider Werks has you covered. Located in the Northeast neighborhood, the taproom hosts daily tours and an on-site resident food truck.
The Winery at Sovereign Estate
Finishing off the wineries on our list is the Winery at Sovereign Estate. You’ll have a gorgeous view of the north side of Lake Waconia, and a good evening can be enjoyed sitting on the picnic tables or by the fire pits while listening to live music. Open year round for tastings, the family-owned winery is a 40-minute drive west of the Twin Cities and known for its seasonal events, including its participation in July’s Waconia Wine Festival alongside Schram Vineyards (keep an eye out for its new winery coming to North Loop in 2020) and Parley Lake Winery.
Urban Forage Winery & Cider House
Urban Forage Winery offers 100 percent gluten-free, all natural ciders and meads. The taproom and production facility are located in the Longfellow neighborhood and feature four on-tap ciders: a dry cider, a semisweet, and two rotating taps. Looking for Thursday night fun? Urban Forage hosts weekly trivia.