Minnesotans are a hearty bunch, and the grapevines growing here are no exception.
After the holidays vintners across the region sharpen their pruning tools and don their warmest winter gear — January is when the vineyards vineyards are pruned. Dave Mohn with Flower Valley Vineyard estimated last year that it takes over 500 hours to complete the pruning of their 4500 vines!
No, I’m not suggesting you grab your pruning shears, although I imagine some would welcome the company! Many wineries are celebrating winter’s nordic spirit by offering unique activities both indoors and out.
Strap on your cross country skis and head out to Villa Bellezza (Pepin, WI) or Falconer Vineyards (Red Wing, MN) to traverse the vineyards. Falconer has a fantastic sledding hill just outside their tasting room thats fun for all ages as well —BYOS, bring your own sled.
Waconia Wine Country’s annual Winter Wassail is January 27th including wine sampling, mulled wine (wassail), music, winter games and more. It is a ticketed event including three wineries in Waconia, MN: Sovereign Estates Winery, Parley Lake Winery, and Schram Winery.
On January 28th Salem Glen Winery (Rochester, MN) is hosting a winter scavenger hunt where teams of two will scavenge the vineyards and compete for prizes. Advance tickets are required, check their event for details.
Urban Forage Winery (Minneapolis, MN) is hosting a Winter Cyclist Appreciation day on February 10th recognizing Minnesota’s toughest winter cyclists with hot cider and happy hour deals all day long — just stop by in your cycling gear for specials!
Dancing Dragonfly Winery (St Croix Falls, WI) is planning a Polar Wine Party on March 10th — a celebration of northern hardiness including live music, and warm wine sippers, taking place outdoors in a heated — or as we’d assume in the dead of winter— semi-heated — tent. This is a ticketed event.
If frosty fun isn’t your thing, these clever indoor activities might be the way you chose to wet your whistle.
Glacial Ridge Winery (Spicer, MN) has soup and live music evenings ongoing Fridays throughout the winter — check their calendar for details.
On January 26, Round Lake Vineyards (Round Lake, MN) is hosting a Tour of Italy wine pairing dinner featuring 5 courses. Tickets and more information, here.
Cannon River Winery (Cannon Falls, MN) is hosting a live comedy night complete with dinner and drinks on January 26.
Head up to Winehaven Winery (Chisago, MN) on February 1 for TED speaker Marlene Zuk, a biologist on animal behavior and evolution.
Northern Vineyards Winery (Stillwater, MN) is hosting a women’s self defense class with hands-on training to prepare you to be more aware, learn tactics for avoidance, and also how to defend yourself when there are no other options. A glass of wine is included with the class — afterwards, of course!
Bold North Views
Whether enjoying your visit indoors or out, one thing you’re sure to experience are the dazzling vineyard views of winter. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the phenomonenon of a “sun dog” — best explained by Wikipedia — but generally, an optic phenomenon that occurs when sunlights hit the light crystals in the sun in just the right way.