Six wineries in Iowa — a state better known for its corn and soybean production — have united to form the Western Iowa Wine Trail.
Although its often-harsh winters would seem to be a hindrance to quality winemaking, Iowa is home to more than 40 grape varieties developed specifically for cold climes — with names like Marquette, Edelweiss, Frontenac, Brianna, Seyval Blanc and Catawba.
Here’s a capsule look at the six estates on the Western Iowa Wine Trail…
- BREEZY HILLS VINEYARD
Step out of the car, and you’ll immediately understand how the winery got its name, as you’ll be confronted by a gentle breeze or a strong wind. Approximately two dozen wines are crafted annually by Darrell and Roberta Morse, including cold-weather varietals, a sparkling wine and fruit wines.
- DANISH COUNTRYSIDE VINES AND WINES
This winery is housed in a completely renovated European-style barn. Tours of the winery and vineyard are offered, and guests can enjoy a glass or bottle of wine on a balcony that overlooks the vineyard, or on as spacious patio — weather permitting, of course. White, red, blush and fruit wines are available.
- LOESS HILLS VINEYARD & WINERY
Following the Midwestern traditions of hard work and strong values, Loess Hills emphasizes hands-on processing, resulting in exceptional products for its customers. Larry Rohatsch and his wife Sheila, along with Larry’s parents, Ron and Nancy, founded the winery after Larry’s homemade wines claimed awards in various state and national wine competitions.
- PRAIRIE CROSSING VINEYARD & WINERY
Within their three-acre vineyard, Andy and Julianna Hrasky grow six varietals, including Catawba, Cayuga White, Concord, Prairie Star, Frontenac and LaCrosse. Each of the 1,300 grapevines are meticulously nurtured by hand to ensure optimal grape quality, the key to producing quality wines. The tasting room offers complimentary samples, and also sells wine by the glass or bottle.
- SUGAR CLAY WINERY & VINEYARDS
Tucked in a peaceful, rural setting, Sugar Clay boasts a cedar tree-shaded deck that leads to a six-acre vineyard with a beautiful valley view. Owners Frank and Amy Hurst produce handcrafted wines, several of which bear names that have a story behind them — which the Hursts are happy to share.
- VINE STREET CELLARS
This could be called an “urban winery,” as it’s located on the east side of the Glenwood town square. The wines are produced on site, and the tasting room and outdoor patio provide a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.
To learn more about the wineries of Western Iowa, and for links to these six estates, go to: http://westerniowawinetrail.com.