If you haven’t experienced a glass of wine complimented by a sunset in the prairie lands of Southwestern Minnesota, caution: you might just fall in love.
Currie, Minnesota is a place where the golden hour is boundless, and sieges of majestic great blue herons grace the skies.
Owners Andy and Krista Kopperud grew up just a stone’s throw from where their home and winery now resides. After graduating from high school in the area, college and careers took them to explore from places from Tennessee to the the Twin Cities — but the ombré skies of Murray County, MN called them home.
In search of transitioning to a quieter life outside the Twin Cities, they set off in search of what they could only describe as a “unique property”, and stumbled on Painted Prairie Vineyard & Winery, a picturesque hobby farm with a fully operational vineyard and winery.
Teeming with exuberance and what I can only imagine a mild stroke of insanity, they decided to give viticulture and winemaking a shot — on top of relocating, Andy opening another business in the area, and all the while each working full time jobs. Just writing it makes me exhausted!
Fast forward five years — as lives that active pass in a hustle — this past spring the Kopperuds opened a brand new tasting room on the property, and Krista is elated to have transitioned into a full-time job running the business.
I had the pleasure of catching up the Kopperuds over a flight of wine and tour of the property. Old School fans of Painted Prairie Vineyard might reminisce about the original tasting room, a historic timber frame barn, which had to be replaced to meet necessary codes, not to mention the need for expanding a growing business. A state-of-the-art winery and brilliantly constructed tasting room overlooks the wetland, and not a detail has been overlooked.
Painted Prairie’s original tasting room, the barn, is still available for hosting small gatherings and events, including their upcoming Harvest Barn and BBQ event on Saturday September 21, where you can enjoy live music and delicious grilled eats provided by Murray County Pork Producers that pair perfectly to their wines. For more information and tickets, head here.
If you head dead south from Painted Prairie Vineyards just about 40 miles, and you’ll find yourself at Round Lake — a city, a private lake, and a vineyard — of the same name.
Round Lake Vineyards is a third-generation family owned property that has seen a unique reincarnation with each passing generation. With a history rich in agricultural and environmental pioneering and innovation, owner Jenny Ellenbecker’s grandfather established the property for the breeding of the Giant Canada Goose, which were nearing extinction at the time.
Today, the Giant Canada Goose is prevalent in Minnesota and beyond, and since then the property transformed into one of the largest vineyards and highest-production wineries in the state. The business is run by Jenny alongside her husband Scott and the fourth-generation to work the land, their son and winemaker, Logan.
The ample basin of Round Lake provides an apt backdrop for the business, which is home to an impressive 30 acres of vines, winery and tasting room, spacious event center, and just added this spring, Bistro restaurant.
Executive chef Brendan Waltz has brought modern, fine-dining quality food to Round Lake, connecting many regional ingredients with local wine for a true local dining experience, and excelling in a way metropolitan “farm-to-table” restaurateurs fail to accomplish. One of my favorite dishes from their menu, Chislic, crispy steak tips sourced from Upper Iowa Beef company topped with wild mushrooms, onions braised in their Drake wine, and strips of bell pepper, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. All the beef at Round Lake Vineyards Bistro is aged in-house and overseen by Waltz. If you head there hungry, you won’t regret it!