For four generations, the Larson family has farmed the verdant parcel of land where Snus Hill Winery now sits, carrying on and improving upon the traditions of their Swedish immigrant ancestors who settled there back in 1878. From their American and French?style grapes, they've crafted a wide variety of award-winning wines, some of which are lovingly named for their beloved cats??and all of which wear the face of a feline on the label. Red, white, ros?, and even dessert and specialty wines create a well-rounded portfolio of varietals, from the bone-dry cabernet sauvignon the Whisker White, with notes of pineapple, mango, and graceful indifference.
Jasper's modern winery squeezes the life out of central Iowan grapes to create a delicious lineup of colorful wines. The 60-minute VIP tasting gives groups of four or double-four a tour of the winery's chambers and splashes tongues with tastes of all 11 vintages, which include the crisp and citrusy Edelweiss white and the Norton dry red, whose smells of baked fruit awaken connoisseurs to flavors of currant and blackberry with slight hints of cinnamon and mint.
Two Saints Winery holds fast to the belief that wine should be representative of its region. That's why to create its award-winning Iowa wines, Two Saints uses only grapes from its own property or grapes grown by local farmers. Embedded within the rippling countryside of rural Warren County, the facility produces up to 30,000 bottles per year. And instead of using juices retrieved from faraway sources, such as California or the mini refrigerators inside seashells, Two Saints spurns flavor enhancements and lets the natural flavors of Iowa's land emerge by aging bottles for at least a year. Customers, meanwhile, can enjoy those products right at the winery, especially during free tastings and live events held frequently on the property. During wine tastings, customers taste and compare eight featured wines that demonstrate the varying levels of body, tannin, sweetness or dryness, and fruity or earthiness possible in a wine.
In 1989, Ron and Linda Mark planted grapevines along a scenic stretch of Summerset ridge. The vines grew over the years, winding along the terrain overlooking the Middle River. In the summer of 1997, the Marks opened Summerset Winery and began converting the plump grapes into wine.
Today, they produce a wide array of wines, including award-winning varietals such as the bold, full-bodied De Chaunac or the Caba Moch, a sangria-style Ros?. Visitors can tour the vineyard and sip reds and whites at the winery's tasting bar, which hosts live music on Sunday.
At Della Viti, the future is essentially unfolding right now. The self-serve wine bar dispenses its vintages via automated Napa Technology WineStations, which pour glasses in a choice of three sizes: a taste, a half-glass, and a full 5-ounce pour. The rotating wines, which range from mescato and merlots to less traditional blends, complement an array of small plate appetizers.
Bringing wine to school is typically frowned upon, but the team at Dale Valley Vineyard turned the rebellious act on its head: They brought a 19th-century schoolhouse to their vineyard. Nowadays, it serves as the tasting room for the vineyard that Cityview readers named the Best Local Iowa Day Trip for two years in a row. In the schoolhouse's single room, visitors sample award-winning wines such as White Schoolhouse?a catawba with citrus notes and an evocative chalkboard minerality?and V?s Berry, whose cherry and apple flavors commingle with raspberry and vanilla aromas. Live music entertains visitors most Saturdays from May through September, and the winery?s annual festival, dubbed Winestock, commences in July.