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mn vineyards

We would like to go wine tasting for a friend's birthday on Sat. of Memorial Day weekend.  I know there are vineyards around that do this.  Anyone ever gone and have a recommendation of a place that is good?  Do you usually have to pay for tastings? I just don't want to have to buy wine.

I've never done this, so I want to know what to expect. Thanks!

Re: mn vineyards

  • We have tried several, but none that I would suggest without knowing your "wine style" if that makes any sense at all.  You can check out the Minnesota Grown directory for some ideas - most have websites to give you an idea of the costs associated with tastings so you should check that out.

    We have just found MN wines to be a little lacking - we have definitely bought several wines from a lot of the, but they just don't have the "oomph" that we love (if that makes any sense).  They are definitely okay wines, but for the $ you pay for them, there are way more that I'd rather buy.  Paying for the premium of a small place in MN over a really good wine from CA is just hard for me.

  • I just realized that made me sound like a total snob - sorry!!

  • image mikeandmonica:

    I just realized that made me sound like a total snob - sorry!!

    No, it didn't. That sounds completely appropriate to me especially if you know wine.  I only drink white wine and tend to like gewurtztraminers (sp?) and chardonnay.  The birthday girl is into wine and has been to Napa/Sonoma.  Maybe she wouldn't really like it since I'm the MN wineries do not compare. 

    It's like when we were recently given 4 bottles of wine from a Cedar Rapids, IA vineyard.  I took about 3 sips (had to give it a chance) and promptly dumped the rest of the bottle.  One of the bottles was drinkable, but I wouldn't tell anyone to buy it.  Anyway, I totally understand what you are saying.

  • I love St Croix Vineyard. I'm a white wine fan too, and I love their delaware and vignoles wines. 
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  • I've been to a few. If I remember right, all of them charge a small tasting fee ($5 or so), but it's applied toward your purchase if you buy wine. 

    I agree that the MN wineries aren't comparable to those in California, but you can find some decent wines, and the experience can be fun with a group of friends.

    St. Criox Vineyards (Stillwater):  If you like sweet white wines, you'll probably like their Vignoles or the Frontenac Gris. We had the Vignoles with our Thanksgiving meal last year and it was good. A little sweet for my taste, but I'm not really a sweet wine person.

    Northern Vineyards Winery (Stillwater): Their website lists a Gew?rztraminer, but I don't remember tasting it there so it might be new. I haven't been there in 2 years or so. My favorite white there is the Edelweiss. I also like the Downtown Red, but it might not be for you.

    Cannon River Winery (Cannon Falls): For sweet white wines, the Sogn Blanc is good. Lorraine's White is more like a Gew?rztraminer, even sweeter than the Sogn Blanc. On their recommendation, we bought some of the GoGo Red to use in sangria, and it was really good. I'm a red wine fan, but didn't love drinking this wine straight out of the bottle, it was too sweet. However, mix up some sangria with it and it's fabulous.

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  • I am not a fan of Northern Vineyards in Stillwater, and it doesn't feel like a winery experience at all. It's in downtown Stillwater and almost has a brewery feeling to it. Alexis Bailly in Hastings is located in the vineyard and I think they had ok wines. Beautiful grounds that you can walk, and maybe even bring a picnic.

    If you go into it knowing that it won't be the California wine experience and just have fun, then you probably will. 

    Another idea is to go to some restaurants that have flights of wine, like the Sample Room in NE Mpls. A fun way to try different wines.

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  • I love Gewurtztraminers as well, Winehaven near Taylors Falls always has excellent Gewurtztraminers and Rieslings :-) 
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  • I've tried Winehaven that's made in Chisago City and I like it. They make a lot of sweeter white wine though, so I wouldn't suggest it unless that's your type of wine. I've never been to their winery.
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  • This is great info.  I'm so glad I asked about this and will definitely check out St. Croix Vineyards, the one in Cannon Falls and Winehaven. 
  • You just have to know how to make good wines! There is a small winery in Melrose, Minnesota, called Whispering Oaks Winery that has a few different options of white wines including Gewuerztraminer, Frontenac Gris and Riesling. They don't have a big web presence yet as they'll just be opening this summer. I know they want to do a soft opening on Memorial Day weekend, so maybe this is an option for you. The website is definitely under construction, but some information can be found there: www.whisperingoakswinerymn.com.


    I'd be interested in what you think! 

  • Hello,

    Great conversation, and wonderful to see the interest in MN Wines. I am the Marketing Chair of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association Board of Directors and owner of Carlos Creek Winery. There are 40+ wineries in MN - most of them will be open for Memorial Weekend. Look for Frontenac Gris, LaCrescents and Brianna's for sweet and semi-sweet white options. For full bodied dry reds, I would look for Marquette or St. Croix wines. Incidently, we are open Memorial weekend and offer live music on Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 2-6 and free tours at 1:00 & 3:00. Happy sipping on MN wines!

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