Oenophile clients will be fascinated by a visit to Wild Mountain Winery near Taylors Falls. The rustic, family-owned winery specializes in grapes developed by Elmer Swenson, the legendary Wisconsin farmer who crossed wild Midwestern grapes with French hybrid grapes. In addition to his own patented grapes, Swenson collaborated with the University of Minnesota to develop Edelweiss, Prairie Star and other vines that have contributed to the growth of the cold weather viticulture industry. Sit by the wood-burning stove in the cozy tasting room or enjoy live music on the patio with a basket of cheese and crackers and toast Swenson’s memory with a glass of Elmer’s White and other award-winning wines. Group tours and tastings available.
If your clients are Anglophiles, take them to Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery at Maiden Rock Apples, an orchard near the charming village of Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. There, you’ll find an array of British farmhouse-style hard ciders and wines crafted from fruit grown on the property. Stroll among trees laden with antique, heirloom and common apples, including the University of Minnesota-developed Honeycrisp. Slake your thirst in the tasting room with Honeycrisp Hard apple cider, Somerset still cider, and Scrumpy sparkling cider, as well as Frontenac Nouveau, Dolgo Crabapple and other wines. Custom tours and tastings available.
The terrain around Lake Pepin does not quite resemble Tuscany, but Italianophiles will be nonetheless delighted by an afternoon at Villa Bellezza Winery & Vineyard in the picturesque lake town of Pepin, Wisconsin. Stroll among the Mediterranean-inspired stone and stucco buildings, and relax by the fountain in the piazza. Wander in the vineyards planted with Prairie Star, LaCrescent, Marquette and other University of Minnesota-developed cold-hardy vines that thrive in the distinctive terroir of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Repair to the tasting room and enjoy Cotes du Pepin, Marquette Reserve, Cinque Figlie and other award-winning wines. Group tours and tastings available.
Repair to St. Croix Vineyards / Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, where grapes and apples grow side by side in the ancient glacial till. Start in the tasting room in the antique barn and sample Vignoles, Frontenac Rose, Orchard Reserve and other wines developed by winemaker Martin Polognioli. Feast on homemade apple bratwurst and a slice of apple pie and pick your own bag of Honeycrisp, Sweet RiverBelle or Jonathan apples before heading back to the Cities. Private tours available.
To experience another facet of the Mississippi River Valley winemaking ecosystem on the Great River Road, visit Red Wing, where St. Croix Vineyards’ winemaker Martin Polognioli also makes wines at the family-owned Flower Valley Vineyard & Winery. Stroll among more than 4,000 vines and admire the historic, timber-framed E. J. Fryck Barn before sampling La Crescent, Frontenac Gris, Maréchal Foch, Marquette, Prairie Star, Frontenac Rosé and other winners in the International Cold Climate Wine Competition.