Northern Vineyards is a shared winery owned by the Minnesota Winegrowers Cooperative, a group of winemakers who own 1- to 15-acre vineyards across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Members grow Frontenac, Prairie Star, and other grape varieties that perform well in the region; since the region has a cold climate and short growing season, grapes grown here must tolerate lower temperatures, ripen early, and be able to knit their own woolen mittens. In the fall, growers lug their mature grapes to the main winery in Stillwater, where award-winning winemaker Robin Partch transforms them into 30 kinds of wine.
The winery?s barrel room hosts wine tastings seven days a week at a glossy, wooden tasting bar. There?s also an outdoor deck that overlooks a historic lift bridge along the St. Croix River. In nice weather, visitors can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy with a glass of wine on the deck.
In a series of black and white portraits that pop against the backdrop of rich burgundy walls, smiling farm workers stationed around the world stand amid their crops, tools in hand. The photographs are the first hint at Peoples Organic Coffee & Wine Café's mission to link ingredients back to their source. The second hint is the menu, which boasts a roster of local farms: the ham comes from Fischer Farm, the chicken sausage from Schultz Farm, and the bison from Eichtens Family Farm. Chefs spotlight these free-range meats in wholesome burgers, wraps, and salads, which they enhance with fresh, organic veggies and housemade sauces. To complement meals, the café boasts a beer menu filled with choices from local breweries such as the limited-supply Surly and Fulton. Additionally, its wine selection runneth over with biodynamic, organic, and sustainable varietals, which are tastier than their unsustainable counterpart, unicorn tears.
Steel Toe Brewery's founder was a home brewer, fermenting beer in his bedroom overnight, until the gurgling sounds of the carboy began to disturb his wife's sleep. Origin stories like these are just one of the attractions of Taproom Tours' brewery tours, which also explore the Belgian yeast of Boom Island Brewing, celebrate session ales at 612 Brew, and enable sud savoring in the wood-paneled taproom at Indeed Brewing Company. Visitors taste sample brews at each location, and, helped along by a knowledgeable guide, explore the breweries' inner workings until they have learned every yeast strain's first name and favorite sports team.
A staff of sommeliers, beer experts, and cheesemongers helps customers to navigate Sunfish Cellars Wine Bar's impressive spread of wine, beer, and gourmet cheeses from throughout the globe. Cordoned off by region, the staggering wine selection includes classic vinos and rare varietals that instructors highlight during regular tasting classes. Cheeses plucked from an onsite shop pair with fine wines during tastings, as sommeliers draw on their extensive expertise to discuss restaurant wine lists, evaluate cost versus value, and explain why wine doesn’t come in an electric-blue variety. Beer-tasting classes are also available, as are congratulatory gift baskets and a personal wine-shopper service, which sources wine selections for fancy dinners and business meetings.
Successful restaurateur Supenn Harrison made her first foray into the restaurant business more than 30 years ago, when she bought a burger joint in the Twin Cities. For Supenn, slinging patties wasn't enough to satisfy her love of the culinary arts; the Thailand native and former teacher quickly traded deep fryers for woks and opened her first Thai restaurant.
She eventually launched the first Sawatdee in 1983 in an abandoned warehouse, transforming the unlikely setting into something you might see in the heart of Bangkok, with gold-leaf ceilings and traditional artwork. Now, Supenn owns seven Sawatdee restaurants throughout Minnesota and has expanded the menu to include sushi dishes. Besides sharing her culinary skills through hands-on cooking classes, Supenn has disseminated her authentic Thai fare by catering birthday celebrations, family reunions, and the Rolling Stones' anti-retirement party.
For nearly two decades, Chef Filippo Caffari mastered the skills of butchery in Rome. Since relocating to Minneapolis, the executive chef of The Butcher Block Restaurant draws upon that training to prepare a range of organic, grass-fed, and sustainable meats. On his authentic Italian menu, mashed potatoes and mushrooms accompany marsala made with veal liver, and house-ground pork sausage flavors a rigatoni in a truffle cream sauce.
Even without meat, Chef Filippo brings out Italy's flavors with items like ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach. He concludes meals with desserts such as tiramisu infused with housemade limoncello and zucchini cake. To complement these delicacies, guests can peruse a wine list that features bottles from around the world.