Along the Great River Road Wine Trail, USA

The Great River Road Wine Trail was founded in 2009, as an initiative by nine wineries located near the Mississippi River.  Today, there are eleven wineries along this Trail, from the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The Trail, which meanders through the spectacular driftless region and blufflands, is one of the most scenic in the US, wrapped in history, habitation and now, a major wine-producing region. The Great River Road itself is a pair of highways on both sides of the Mississippi River and stretches across 235 miles.

Each winery on the Trail uses the same northern grown grapes but has its own distinctive brand of wines and fruit products.

Events along the Trail include food festivals, local wine events in the spring and the holiday food and wine festivals in late fall. Besides this, there is plenty to do along the scenic Trail, which offers agri-tourism, bike tours, bird watching, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, hunting, and gaming. In fact, when you pack your VinGardeValise® to bring back the wines you enjoy from the wineries, you might want to carry your golf clubs as well.

Almost all these picturesque wineries are wedding venues and you will understand why, when you visit. Who wouldn’t want a memorable wedding or celebration in these settings?

By the way, most of the wineries along the Trail generously offer free wine tasting, live music, and local cuisine. Remember to ask about your wine passport, and get it stamped by each winery you visit, for a free GRRWT wine glass, and even an entry to a lucky draw to win a case of exclusive wines!
Let’s go! Don’t forget to grab your VGV®

Cannon River Winery

Established by John and Maureen Maloney, the historic Cannon River Winery is located amid rolling hills of Sogn Valley, close to downtown Cannon Falls in Minnesota, between St. Paul and Rochester.  The winery has a charming nineteenth-century timber frame barn set amid the 40-acre vineyard with more than 9,000 vines that enjoy a climate similar to some of the best wine regions in France and Italy. The winery’s wine list ranges from full-bodied reds to dry whites, reserve wines, rosé wines, semi-sweet wines, and specialty wines. These prize-winning wines are handpicked and handcrafted on site, using a combination of old and new traditions, and local and international techniques. The result is a range of complex reds layered with the flavors of berry jams, nuts and chocolate, and dry whites with hints of pear, melon, and grapefruit.

According to their website,

At harvest time, we hand pick our grapes when they’re at the peak of ripeness, which preserves the integrity of the fruit and leads to the highest quality of wine. Then, our experienced winemaker masterfully blends each varietal with complex flavors to suit even the most discerning palates. Balanced dry whites and sumptuous full-bodied reds round out our extensive wine selection.

If you plan to visit during mid-September, don’t miss the exclusive fall harvest experience that includes a tour of the winery, and hand-picking grapes. Enjoy wine tasting with local artisan cheeses.
Facebook rating: 4.7 of 5 stars, 419 reviews
TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars, 87 reviews

Features
• Cannon River Winery gift certificates
• Event venue for weddings, corporate meetings, and formal gatherings
• Live music every weekend
• Art events
• Vineyard tours and picnics
• CReW wine club membership
• Online wine shop
• Fall harvest experience in mid-September
• Wine-themed merchandise
• Customized wine tasting at their antique bar with ‘coin’ based system.  Each coin  purchased can be exchanged for wine tasting, or redeemed for wine by the glass or flights, reservation of wine tastings, and as gifts
• Special Tableside Tasting, which includes seven seasonal favorite wines along with a taste of one specialty wine
• Wine tasting for groups of 10 by prior booking

Address
Cannon River Winery
421 Mill Street West
Cannon Falls, Minnesota 55009
Phone: 507-263-7400
Email: info@cannonriverwinery
Languages: English

Villa Bellezza Winery & Vineyards

Villa Belleza Winery and Vineyards gets its name from the Italian word for beauty: Bellezza, after the spectacular location with its stunning river bluffs and sparkling Lake Pepin views. The winery’s buildings, whose architectural style is inspired by the vintage villas of southern Europe, are set around a charming central square and fountain where visitors can gather to enjoy wine and a meal at one of the café tables.

Villa Bellezza produces more than a dozen wines, many of which are winners of international wine competitions. The winery has three vineyards around Lake Pepin, and additional grapes are sourced from nearby vineyards in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The wines produced range from dry to sweet, from white to rosé to red with something to please every palate. The winery offers free samples of their latest wines that you can enjoy in their gorgeous surroundings.

To quote from their website,

It’s said that you need great grapes to make great wine – but great grapes are the result of great soil. We chose our vineyard locations in order to give our crop the best opportunity to grow. Villa Bellezza itself manages two vineyards located around Lake Pepin. But our grapes also come from our friends and neighbors at Villa Bellezza vineyards in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

La dolce vita, La belle vie, La buena vida… the sweet life.
Come join us to experience the Mediterranean on the Mississippi!

Don’t miss a complimentary tasting of the award-winning Fortaleza, which the winery is offering for a limited time, along with special pricing on selected items. Your wine luggage will be so pleased.

Facebook rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, 280 reviews
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars, 101 reviews

Features
• Complimentary public tours of the Villa Bellezza grounds and vineyards that conclude at the Tasting Room
• Self-guided tours through the “Villa” event center
• Day trip around the vineyard
• Event venue for weddings and corporate and private events
• Wine club membership
• Onsite restaurant il Forno
• Wine tasting with complimentary tasting of their featured wine
• Private group tastings arranged with prior reservation
• Tasting Room in Pepin, Wisconsin where you can purchase their wines
• Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday
• Dog-friendly

Address
Villa Bellezza Winery & Vineyards
Great River Road / State Highway 35
1420 Third Street
Pepin, Wisconsin 54759
Phone: 715-442-2424
Email julianne.dahlen@villabellezza.com
Languages: English

Danzinger Vineyards

Danzinger Vineyards is located on the Alma Bluffs in Buffalo county, with a panoramic view of the Mississippi River. The 18-acre vineyard was planted in 2003.  Six years later, the winery was built and in 2010 it opened its tasting room. The estate grows various grape varieties including Frontenac, Prairie Star, St Pepin, La Crescent, La Crosse, Frontenac Gris, St Croix, and Marquette. All grape wines are estate grown and the winery also produces a number of fruit wines. In 2013, the Wisconsin Winery Association conferred Danzinger with the title, Winery of the Year. The winery also has the best views on the Great River Road Wine Trail.

According to their website,

What started as a family venture has grown into a passion with more than 8,000 plants on 18 acres located in some of the most beautiful scenery you will find in the Mississippi River Valley. From the casual wine drinker to a true connoisseur, Danzinger Vineyards has the blend to enchant your palate.

Reflect on the expanse of the Mississippi River while sipping one of Danzinger’s unique blends ranging from reds, whites and specialty wines. And bring home some delicious fruit wines in your VinGardeValise®. If you are visiting in September, inquire about taking part in their Annual Grape Stomp!

Facebook rating: 4.7 of 5 stars, 219 reviews
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars, 67 reviews

Features
• Food available for sale
• Outside food not allowed
• Prior reservation required for groups of ten or more
• Wine club membership
• Event venue for private and corporate events
• Closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
• Online wine shop
• Annual Grape Stomp

Address
Danzinger Vineyards
S2015 Grapeview Lane
Alma, Wisconsin 54610
Phone: 608-685-6000
Email: info@danzingervineyard.com
Languages: English

Seven Hawks Vineyards

Seven Hawks Vineyards is located 20 miles north of Trempealeau, in the north and is one of the largest vineyards in the upper Midwest overlooking the Mississippi River Valley. The first grapes were planted in 2004 and today, the vineyard has about 18,000 northern hybrid vines from which Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, St. Croix, Sabrevois, La Crescent, Brianna, Prairie Star, and Marquette grapes are harvested. The winery has been producing wines since 2007. The wines are handcrafted and tasting is free. All the estate’s wines are handcrafted and made from locally grown grapes and fruit. The range includes red, white and dessert wines.

Its tasting room and wine bar, an 1870s renovated building, is in the heart of downtown Fountain City, about a mile away from the vineyard, where one can savor the winery’s popular estate wines like Smiling Moon or Hunters Blend. In the year 2000, the winery also started offering onsite accommodation nearby, which includes complimentary Seven Hawks wines for the guests.

Here’s what they say on their website:

Our wines are local, hand pruned, hand tended, hand harvested, and waiting for you to taste, for FREE. We’ve never charged walk in guests for sampling our wines, because we’re confident that when you do taste them, you’ll want to buy them and enjoy these well made, reasonably priced, truly local wines.

Enjoy their award-winning complimentary wines with a tour of their vineyards!

Facebook rating: 4.2 of 5 stars, 97 reviews
TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars, 18 reviews

Features
Free wine tasting
• Special events at the vineyard and tasting room
• Vineyard tours
• Onsite accommodation
• Seven Hawks Case Club membership
• Closed on New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, Easter and Thanksgiving

Address
Seven Hawks Vineyards
17 North St
Fountain City, Wisconsin 54629
Phone: 608-687-9463
Email: shop@sevenhawksvineyards.com
Languages: English

Elmaro Vineyard

Elmaro Vineyard is a family-owned and managed winery located in the Mississippi River Valley. The location is perfect for cold-hearty vines and the first vines were planted in 2006 with Marquette Rosé, St. Pepin, Reliance, Somerset seedless, La Crescent, and Bluebell varietals.

In January 2017, Elmaro was named Wisconsin Winery of the Year. The winery’s product range includes sparkling wines, ice wines, dry wine, sweet wine, whites and reds, rosé, and low sugar jellies.

In addition to estate-grown grapes, the mother-daughter team at Elmaro also makes wines from a variety of fruits such as cranberries, black currants and grapes from Wisconsin growers, and juice from the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

The winery was homesteaded in the 1850s and offers breath-taking views of the area. The 150-year old white pine tree on the property is featured on the winery’s labels and is considered a symbol of stability and determination.

Here’s what the Elmaro family say on their website:

At Elmaro Vineyard, our focus is on producing great wines and providing an unmatched setting in which to enjoy them. Our family works together to make sure you have the best experience possible, whether it’s enjoying a glass at the vineyard or in your own home. Our interest in growing grapes started with our love of wine, agriculture and family.

Enjoy Elmaro’s complimentary glass of wine amidst the vines and perhaps play one of their group table games before you stock up your 12 bottle suitcase and move on.

Facebook rating: 4.8 of 5 stars, 557 reviews
TripAdvisor rating: 5 stars, 103 reviews

Features
• Complimentary wine tastings
• Group Therapy for groups of five or more persons, reservations required
• Group tasting–Seven Elmaro Vineyard wines served with light food pairings
• Educational Tasting available to groups of four or more, reservations required
• Elmaro’s Picnic Package with all consumables provided by Elmaro, reservations required
• Custom tasting packages on request
• Live music events at the winery and vineyards
• Wedding venue
• Closed on Mondays

Address
Elmaro Vineyard
N14756 Delaney Rd,
Trempealeau, Wisconsin 54661
Phone: 608-534-6456
Email: info@elmarovineyard.com
Languages: English

Eagles Landing Winery

Eagles Landing Winery is a family run business located on the Great River Road in the Mississippi River town of Marquette, Iowa and offers more than 36 international award-winning wines ranging from dry to semi-dry, semi-sweet to sweet reds, whites, berry wines and dessert wines.

The first grapes were planted in 1999. The winery has produced its Marquette Maid branded wines since 2003. Currently, there are two vineyards: the Volga vineyard and the Marquette vineyard. The latter’s grapes will be used to produce Outstanding Red and Outstanding White. Grapes are also sourced from growers in the area. The winery holds titles for “Rosé Wine of the Year”, “Best Iowa Wine” and “Best of Class” at different wine competitions.

To quote from their website,

We are currently producing 36 unique wines, everything from dry to sweet dessert wines. At any one time we will have in stock two dozen wines for you to sample. Some of our wines are seasonal and produced in smaller batch sizes. Our Wine Making Philosophy is simple. Patience, Patience, Patience. Meticulous attention to every wine making detail. An ardent focus on quality. Our mission is not be the biggest winery in Iowa, merely the best.

Enjoy the winery’s wines with music in their grapevine lined Wine Garden. If you enjoy birdwatching, look for eagles landing in the trees and on the river.

Facebook rating: 4.8 of 5 stars, 189 reviews
TripAdvisor rating:  4.5 stars, 88 reviews


Features
• Located 3 miles from Effigy Mounds National Park and Pikes Peak State Park
• Onsite B&B accommodation
• Free wine tasting daily
• Various events and wine fests throughout the year
• Closed Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve
• Gift shop
• Gift Certificates available
• Online wine shop
• Handicap accessible

Address
Eagles Landing Winery
127 North Street
PO Box 116
Marquette, Iowa 52158
Phone: 563-873-1905
Email info@eagleslandingwinery.com
Languages: English

The dizzy combination of local wine and magnificent landscapes makes the Great River Road Wine Trail the perfect destination for wine lovers, offering a thoroughly delightful getaway. We strongly suggest that you include a visit to the various villages and towns along the Trail. If you are visiting in the fall, do not miss the October to leaf color time in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

Enjoy your trip and come back with your wine suitcase loaded! We’ll understand if you take a couple of days extra to enjoy the natural beauty of the Trail!

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