The November issue of Minnesota Monthly features a Minnesota Drinking Guide to the state's best breweries, distilleries, wineries and cideries. We talked breweries and distilleries in the past few weeks, and today we'll get to wineries and cideries.
Minnesota wineries have seen slow but steady growth in the past decade. The biggest thing happening for them has been some new cold-hardy grape varieties introduced by the University of Minnesota's fruit-breeding program that are starting to get notice.
Wineries tend to be in the most pastoral settings, and there's a little more to do at wineries, since you can often stroll or picnic in their vineyards.
For example, Alexis Bailly in Hastings is the pioneer, established in 1973, and it's a beautiful place. I like its red wine Voyageur and also several of its dessert wines.
Many of the wineries have banded together to form "wine trails," where visitors can stop by several of them in one day. For example, there are several wineries in the Waconia area and along the St. Croix River valley.
Cideries are the latest trend in local drinking. There are just a handful around the state, but they offer a surprising range of flavors, from sweet to tart to dry, making fermented apples an exciting alternative to grapes.