Iowa, home to soybeans, corn… and wine!
This state grows over 40 grape varieties including Frontenac, La Crescent, and Marquette (the most widely grown) and others such as St. Croix, Sabrevois, Edelweiss, Brianna, St. Pepin and LaCrosse. With so many grapes, more than 300 vineyards spanning about 1,200 acres, and over 100 wineries in Iowa, the wine industry is thriving.
So, if a visit to this part of the world is on your bucket list, check out the Iowa wineries that offer something special.
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Ackerman Winery, which opened in 1956, is the oldest operating winery in the state of Iowa and it produces fruit and grape wines ranging from Raspberry and Blackberry to Rhubarb and Mango. Their wines are entered into international wine competitions from California to New York and are regularly awarded top honours, especially for their fruit wines.
If you visit Ackerman Winery, you can enjoy their complementary tasting bar and shop in the spacious store where you can purchase unique wine gift items. After you have shopped and tasted, take a bottle to the Weingarten and enjoy the outdoors with friends and family. Opening hours are Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.
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Nestled on 12 acres of vineyard, Summerset Winery offers guests a beautiful view of the landscape as well as the skyline of downtown Des Moines. They are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12am-5pm and you can enjoy their wine-tasting room, gift shop, meeting room, wine cellar and grand banquet hall. Group tours, live music and interesting events are on offer throughout the year.
Producing more than 140,000 bottles of wine annually, Summerset is the largest winery in Iowa. Summerset is one of the Iowa wineries which offers lodging. The Inn, which houses 26 people, includes:
- 2 fully functioning kitchens
- 2 living areas
- Pool Table
- Tuscan garden and gazebo
- Large front and back porches
Summerset Winery offers wine tastings and tours and hosts weddings, corporate events, private parties and receptions. Their staff are knowledgeable and friendly and will help you find a wine suited to your palate. For tasty wine and great times with friends, visit Summerset.
Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
Situated between the cornfields of Iowa, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery is a prominent name when it comes to Iowa wineries. Cedar Ridge wines, which are produced from their estate-grown grapes, have won numerous awards. They can be sampled in a beautiful, serene outdoor setting. Opening hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 11am-9pm, Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 9am-5pm. There is an abundance of seating areas at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, including a vineyard room, an elegant tasting room, a large event room, outside patios and lawns.
Complementary wine tastings include a variety of house wines, estate wines, and premier wines. Some of the best-selling premier wines include Reserve White, Reserve Red, Double Oak Reserve and Iowa Sparkling White. Wine tastings can be enjoyed with scrumptious wood-fired pizzas or cheese and meat boards and live music is a regular offering to complete the lively and embracing wining and dining vibe. Getting married? Cedar Ridge Winery can cater to up to 200 guests who will help you to celebrate a memorable occasion in a magnificent setting.
Eagles Landing Winery
Eagles Landing Winery strives to be one of the best wineries in Iowa, an effort that is palpable in the patience and attention to detail that goes into each bottle of wine they produce. The family-run estate crafts an assortment of unique-tasting wines, many of which have won awards. If you like a crisp wine, try the award-winning Marquette Rosé which has notes of strawberry and cherry.
The wines can be sampled for free daily from 10am-5pm in the comfort of their tasting room. They currently produce 36 wines ranging from dry to sweet dessert wines. You can enjoy live music events on a regular basis and pets are welcome to sit in the Wine Garden.
Soldier Creek Winery
The beautiful grape vines at Soldier Creek Winery are a testament to the quality of wine they produce. The winery has been in the family for more than 50 years and their hard work has led to the production of some of the finest estate-grown wines in the state.
The tasting room is comfortable and spacious and tastings take place by appointment or during walk-in hours – Friday 4pm-8pm, Saturday 1pm-6pm and Sunday 1pm-5pm. At Soldier Creek Winery, you can enjoy premium wines produced from cold-hardy grapes in a fun and hospitable environment.
Penoach Vineyard and Winery
The owners of Penoach Vineyard and Winery go all out to create deliciously crafted wine, and they do so in a 1917 barn that has been repurposed. Wines can be sampled in the cosy tasting room or on the front porch which looks onto the vineyard. Opening hours are on Fridays and Saturdays between 12pm-5pm and on Sundays between 1pm-5pm.
Some of the wines include:
- Frontenac – a dark, soft red wine with earthy, black cherry tones from Frontenac grapes grown onsite
- Rustic Red – a Marquette blend with a touch of oak
- Homestead White – a crowd-pleaser, fruity dry wine
- River Bend Rosé – a semi-dry, light red blend of red and white wines
- Picket Fence White – a semi-dry LaCrescent crisp wine with notes of citrus
- Vignoles – a semi-dry white wine with flavours of citrus and apricots.
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Having just opened its doors to the public in 2007, Fireside Winery is one of the relatively new wineries in Iowa. They offer live music on the weekends and tasting room hours from 10am-5pm each day. While experiencing the wine tasting and pairings, you will learn about the winemaking process.
From the friendly staff to the magnificent sunsets on the patio, you will enjoy the warm ambience offered at this winery. The Fireside Winery is accessible to people with disabilities, has free public Internet access, a restaurant and tasting room and events facilities.
Other Enjoyable Iowa Experiences
If you want to see more than the amazing Iowa wineries in the region, there’s plenty more to do. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, the Maquoketa Caves for the adventurous, restful landscapes such as The Bridges of Madison County are just some of the wonderful experiences you can enjoy in Iowa. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium features exhibits, collections and live animals that live in the Mississippi River and the aim is to showcase how important the river is to the people and the environment.
The Maquoketa Caves State Park offers viewers hiking trails over bluffs and woodlands and a glimpse of the natural wonder known as Balanced Rock but people love the caves. The Dancehall Cave, well-lit with high ceilings and a walkway, leads into a dozen other dark caves. There is a large camping site at the caves where people with RVs and tents enjoy overnight stays.
The bridges of Madison County have inspired thousands of visits and photographs and you can take the 82-mile Covered Bridges Scenic Byway which is a tour of the bridges allowing you to take in the beautiful scenery. If you love art, you can visit the Des Moines Art Center which features rotating works of painting, sculpture and photography. Entrance is free.
If you wish to end your tour of Iowa on a spiritual note, you can do so by visiting the Grotto of Redemption. Comprised of nine separate grottos, hand-built by a pastor and a few helpers, and made from precious stones and gems, the Grotto exemplifies hard work and determination – two qualities to be found in great abundance in the wonderful wineries in Iowa.