Minnesota Wine Country: What’s New at the Minnesota State Fair

Did you know Minnesota is home to more than 70 wineries and more than 600 vineyards? You can get a taste of this thriving wine scene at the Minnesota State Fair (Aug. 23 through Sept. 3). Fairgoers can learn about the unique cold-hardy grapes developed and grown in our state and sample 12 of the best-selling and noteworthy wines made by eight different Minnesota wineries—all in one place at Minnesota Wine Country. The wines include red, white, fruity, and sparkling options, and there’s even a cider.

Minnesota Wine Country is open from 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily at 1271 Underwood St. between Carnes Avenue and Judson Avenue across the street from the Agriculture/Horticulture Building.

This year’s Minnesota Wine Country line-up features seven new wines, a hard cider, and a menu of sweet and savory foods to pair with each sip. Additionally, Minnesota Wine Country offers free food and wine tastings during its daily presentations from top wine and food experts, and nightly live music on the patio as well as food for purchase (see menu below).

The fan-favorite Candied Bacon Donut Sliders are back. These are sweet and spicy candied applewood smoked bacon served between sliced donut holes topped with a bittersweet port ganache. Wondering which wine you might pair with these? The experts there can offer suggestions. Plus, new foods include Chicken Piccata Bites, which are chicken topped with a buttery lemon sauce and herbs, as well as the classic wine pairing of charcuterie—but served on a stick in classic State Fair style. Cleanse your palate of cheese curds with refreshing Spiked Fruit Kabobs (aka “Sangria on a Stick”), which is fruit soaked in wine, served on a stick. There are seven new Minnesota-made wines, one new hard cider, and two new wine slushies including Frosé (frozen rosé).

New Wines and Hard Cider
• St. Pepin, Cannon River Winery
• GoGo Red, Cannon River Winery 
• Edelweiss, Garvin Heights Vineyards 
• Frontenac Gris, Parley Lake Winery 
• Marquette Reserve, Winehaven Winery 
• Rhubarb Wine, Forestedge Winery 
• Lady Slipper Rosé (sparkling), Northern Vineyards–Stillwater
• Lumberjack Cider, Falconer Vineyards 

New Wine-Infused Slushies
Cool down with the expanded slushie menu including the new Frosé, which is a watermelon mix with Falconer’s Rosé wine, or the Peaches & Gris—peachy sweetness along with Saint Croix’s Frontenac Gris wine. Other returning slushies include blueberry pomegranate and raspberry. 

Wine and Food Demos with Local Experts and Live Music 
Get personalized tips on pairing Minnesota wine with chocolate, herbs, cheese, or your favorite fair food. Experts in the local wine and food scene will host free wine and food tastings in daily presentations exclusively at Minnesota Wine Country at 3:30 p.m. each day of the fair through Sunday, Sept. 2.

Daily demos include:

  • Wine and cheese curd pairing with Jason Kallsen, founder of Twin Cities Wine Education
  • Wine and State Fair food pairing with Sam Jennings, winemaker at Cannon River Winery
  • Wine and chocolate, herbs and State Fair classics with Leslee Miller, sommelier, owner of Amusée and co-founder of Sip Better wine club
  • State Fair’d grain bowl recipe demonstration with Cooks of Crocus Hill chef instructor Mike Shannon
  • Making wine without grapes with Winehaven Winery owner Kyle Peterson
  • Wine and cheese pairings with Alise Sjostrom, co-owner of Redhead Creamery
  • Minnesota wine school with Vine Lab Academy instructor Nikki Erpelding

Each night, fairgoers can also catch live jazz, classical, world beat, and salsa music from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of events and musicians, visit “Minnesota Wine Country” on Facebook.

Follow Minnesota Wine Country on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or search the hashtag #mnwinecountry for the most up-to-date information about Minnesota Wine Country happenings at the State Fair. Cheers!

New Chicken Piccata Bites

Minnesota Wine Country Menu

$7 5-ounce glass | $7 for sparkling wines | $10 flights (White, Red, Sweet & Fruity, or Sparkling/Cider)

WHITE (all new)

  • St.  Pepin, Cannon River Winery, Cannon River
  • Edelweiss, Garvin Heights Vineyards, Winona
  • Frontenac Gris, Parley Lake Winery, Waconia


  • NEW – Marquette Reserve, Winehaven Winery, Chisago City
  • Frontenac, Saint Croix Vineyards, Stillwater
  • Barn Quilt Red, Parley Lake Winery, Waconia


  • NEW – GoGo Red, Cannon River Winery, Cannon River
  • NEW – Rhubarb Wine, Forestedge Winery, Laporte
  • Raspberry, Winehaven Winery, Chisago City


  • NEW – Lumberjack Cider, Falconer Vineyards, Red Wing
  • NEW – Lady Slipper Rose, Northern Vineyards, Stillwater
  • Minnesota Orchard Bubbly, Saint Croix Vineyards, Stillwater


  • $10 for wine slushies
  • NEW – FROSÉ (FROZEN ROSÉ): Made with Falconer Rosé, features a watermelon twist. $10
  • NEW – PEACHES & GRIS: Made with Saint Croix Vineyards Frontenac Gris, features a peach twist. $10
  • BLUEBERRY POMEGRANATE WINE SMOOTHIE: Made with Forestedge Blueberry Wine. $10
  • RASPBERRY WINE SMOOTHIE: Made with Winehaven Raspberry Wine. $10


  • SPIKED FRUIT KABOB (New): Just like sangria on a stick! Slices of seasonal melon and pineapple soaked in a Minnesota white wine sangria. A fresh and healthy twist to State Fair food! $9
  • CHICKEN PICCATA BITES (New): Lightly breaded chicken bites topped with a buttery lemon sauce, fresh herbs and tangy capers. $9
  • CHARCUTERIE ON A STICK (New): Gourmet selections of cheeses and meats accompanied by a black olive and fresh cherry tomato, all assorted on a state fair-style stick. The perfect pairing for your favorite wine! $9
  • CANDIED BACON DONUT SLIDERS: Sweet and spicy candied applewood smoked bacon served between sliced donut holes topped with a bittersweet port ganache. $9
  • DEEP-FRIED BRIE CHEESE: Brie cheese dipped in a red wine tempura batter, lightly fried and served with a new spicy raspberry dipping sauce. $9
  • SRIRACHA CHEESE BALLS: The perfect combination of cool cream cheese and spicy sriracha sauce breaded, deep-fried, and drizzled with sriracha. $9

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.