Official Wine of MINNESOTA FUN!

By: Lauren Voigt

I considered “Official Wine of MINNESOTA FUN” a lofty tagline until I took the drive to Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, MN myself. After rolling through the peaceful back roads of Douglas County’s countryside — my jaw literally dropped as I pulled into the parking lot.  The delights found in Minnesota’s Wine Country never cease to enchant me.

Was it the unexpected bustle of visitors in this quiet corner of Minnesota that surprised me?  Perhaps — in fact, every space both inside and outside the extensive tasting room was filled with spirited customers sipping in their dose of Minnesota fun. Carlos’ “Minnesota Wine Museum”, an amusing labyrinth of interactive viticulture and viniculture displays was overflowing with jovial visitors laughing and learning together as if among friends.   

“Is this a typical crowd for a Saturday?” I asked owner Tami Bredeson as we wove through the lively crowd.  “A bit light”, Bredeson replied.

Convening on the terrace for the Owner’s Vineyard & Winery Tour ($5, reservations recommended) I was swept on a journey that took me from the vineyard to the glass, but not in the ordinary “here’s a grape vine, that’s a fermentation tank” approach. Bredeson’s charismatic stories wholly engaged current events, climatic impact, economics, politics, and science in a way that even I, a novice student, grasped. I was accompanied by Vine Lab’s Lisa Lehar — who has dabbled in just about every wine certification on record — and was equally fascinated by the experience.

Returning from the tour, the tasting room was abuzz threefold over my initial arrival — “now, this is about right for a Saturday,” Bredeson remarked.

While you can find Carlos Creek’s wines available in fairly wide distribution throughout the state, several of their selections are available only in their tasting room including Apple Hopper hard cider, so even if you’re not a wine-lover you’ll be in good company with this dry, hoppy draft!

The Minnesota wine museum at Carlos Creek is a fun, interactive display located in the former barrel room beneath the tasting room.

SKÅL! [norse for cheers]

While Carlos Creek is a delightful day trip and an easy 2 hours Northwest from Saint Paul — it was a bit ambitious considering I really needed about four hours there to fully immerse myself in Minnesota Fun, not to mention two other must-stops in Minnesota’s viking country: Panther Distillery and Copper Trail Brewery, both part of the area’s craft beverage tour, SKÅL CRAWL.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stop at Panther, toting home a bottle of their White Whisky, which mixed up a delightful whisky-rita.

A fun factoid about Panther Distillery?  All the grains for their products are sourced within 30 miles of the distillery.  Now that’s work clinking some cubes to! Due to my over-ambition for this trip, I was unable to make it to Copper Trail and look forward to making a visit back to the area!

Upcoming at Carlos Creek

Mark your calendar for September 15-17 2017, when Carlos Creek will be hosting its annual grape stomp festival — prepare to be joined by 17,000 others throughout the course of the weekend as this is reportedly the biggest stomp in the state! Plan accordingly, Alexandria has a number of hotels running shuttles to the event, as well as nearby Lake Carlos State Park.

The event center at Carlos Creek is a renovated and beautifully restored horse barn.

Is this a sponsored post? Nope, we don’t accept paid articles.  I did receive a few complimentary sips of wine along the way, though!



Exploring Minnesota through wine-related adventures.

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