Every state in the United States of America is now home to at least one winery, and that includes Iowa, which boasts more than 48 winemaking estates — eight of which have teamed up to create the “Iowa Wine Trail.”
You can visit the Iowa Wine Trail by traversing the upper Mississippi Valley wine region at Anamosa, Baldwin, Bankston, Clinton, Decorah, Fredericksburg, Lisbon, Marquette and West Branch.
The wineries can be visited almost daily, and at each site a winemaker is likely nearby to answer questions about the region’s special and unusual varietals. Visitors can view operations, enjoy the grounds, and sample award-winning wines and sparkling ciders.
The region features designated scenic byways, alpine hills, and cold-water streams that are full of trout. The area was spared historic glaciers, thus leaving soils, slopes, caves and aquifers ideal for irrigation, drainage, circulation and sun to produce the best possible grapes.
Here’s a look at the estates you’ll encounter along the Iowa Wine Trail…
• Brick Arch Winery — See our blog on this winery in President Herbert Hoover’s hometown. 319-643-4001.
• Daly Creek Winery & Bistro — The tasting room features a 20-foot handmade bar made of Iowa red cedar. You’ll also find two large windows for observing winemaking operations, and a gift shop with more than 500 items. Daly Creek’s upscale Italian Bistro seats 50 guests, and an enclosed patio accommodates 40 more while prominently displaying a large Grant Wood mural. 319-462-2525.
• Eagles Landing Bed & Breakfast and Winery — Residing on the scenic Great River Road in the quaint river town of Marquette, Eagles Landing features a grapevine-lined patio and a gazebo. The B&B is a cedar log-sided timber frame home, built from native oak trees that were harvested, sawed into posts and beams, and erected without a single nail or screw; it’s all held together by wooden pins. The location, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, is a bird watcher’s paradise. 563-873-2509.
• Engelbrecht Family Winery — Located 40 miles north of Waterloo, this winery has a Farm House Antique & Wine Shop that offers one-of-a-kind antique pieces and features the winery’s three white wines, five red wines and a blush wine. You can walk and picnic along the Plum Creek Nature Trail that runs through the farm, and stay the weekend at the Farm House Bed and Breakfast Inn. 563-237-5969.
• Park Farm Winery — A hilltop chateau, built to capture the beauty of northeast Iowa, overlooks a wooded valley, vineyards and a church steeple on the horizon. Enjoy a glass of award-winning wine on a spacious deck, as Park Farm prides itself on producing quality wines of unique character from grapes and fruit that grow in the Midwest. Live music is featured on Sunday evenings from May through October. 563-557-3727.
• Tabor Home Vineyards & Winery — Tabor Home’s estate vineyards were planted in 1989. Red varieties include Marechal Foch, St. Croix and Catawba, while La Crosse is the primary white grape. The tasting room and gift shop overlook vineyards, a Civil War era barn and miles of Iowa’s Grant Wood countryside. Tabor Home emphasizes production of premium table wines with an eye toward establishing a respected regional identity for Iowa wines. 563-673-3131.
• Wide River Winery — Set atop the Mississippi bluff north of Clinton, Wide River offers an array of bottlings, from dry and white to sweet and red, made primarily with Midwestern grapes, including some organically grown. There’s also a hiking trail along the Mississippi bluff, a peaceful deck for relaxing, and a small gift shop. 563-519-WINE.
• Winneshiek Wildberry Winery — A family owned and operated winery specializing in fruit and table wines. The majority of the grapes and fruit used are locally grown or grown on site. Visitors can sip wine while enjoying the diverse seasonal views from the winery’s veranda. 563-735-5809.
Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit Iowa wine country, but most tasting rooms are open throughout the year. It’s always a good idea to call ahead when planning a visit.