I recently attended a wedding at Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, and I am now set on planning a trip back. Let me tell you why.
For one, I got a taste of the wine, and it really was excellent. Across 15 acres you’ll find cold-hearty grapes, some that can even withstand temperatures 30 degrees below zero without protection. Perfect for our crazy climate. They also have a number of apple trees, grown solely for wine production. I enjoyed the Harvest White, a not too sweet, not too dry wine that was introduced this year. But the most popular is the Minnesota Nice Hot Dish Red, a sweeter blend with touches of blackberry. Wine tastings are available at anytime and include five samples ($6, additional samples $1).
The second reason is simply because the property is beautiful. In total it’s 150 acres, and it looks exactly as you’d want a Minnesota winery to. Set back from the main road, it’s green, lush and hilly. Interiors reflect more of a cabin style, with a converted horse barn for events. Complimentary tours of the winery are offered daily (1 p.m. and 3 p.m., plus 5 p.m. on Saturdays). Vineyard tours are also available, but need to be arranged one week in advance ($10).
Photo courtesy of Carlos Creek Winery
Upon researching my future trip here I learned about the winery’s annual Grape Stomp Festival (Sept. 13-15). And boy, am I remorse I’m not going to be there for it. The main event is, of course, the grape stomp. Here’s the lowdown: You need a team of two (a grape stomper and juice collector) and will compete with seven other teams, the winners of each advancing to that day’s grand championship. Costumes are both encouraged and rewarded, with the best winning a $25 gift card and bottle of wine. And even if you don’t participate in the Grape Stomp, you can still dress up. There’s a Minnesota nice costume contest on Friday, and a Lucille Ball look alike one on Saturday; winners of each will get a $50 gift card. Other events include wine sampling, live music, a barn dance, art, marketplace and food vendors, The Great American Lumberjack Show, chainsaw carving, glass blowing, helicopter rides, and a man cave featuring Schell’s beer.
If you’re able to make it up next weekend, I’ll be jealous. If not, still plan a trip; there’s plenty to do and great wine to be had year-round.