Peace Tree Brewing Company takes its name from the ancient sycamore tree that currently peeks its head through the watery surface of Lake Red Rock. Legend has it before the tree was half submerged in water, it served as a meeting place for negotiations between natives and traders. Above all, the tree stood as a symbol of neighborly conversation, friendship, and agreement—aspects of life that Peace Tree Brewing Company hopes to facilitate with their frosty beers and neighborhood atmosphere.
Inside Peace Tree’s taproom, which is open Wednesday through Sunday, visitors can gather for tours of the brewery or sit and enjoy its year-round beers on draft. Sippers can introduce their taste buds to the malty flavor of Red Rambler or prepare themselves for the blend of American and English hops in the Hop Wrangler. Occasionally, guests might find seasonal brews available for taste, such as Cornucopia, an ale brewed with Iowa sweet corn, or the heavy and malty Imperial stout. Since the taproom has taken a vow of hunger, it doesn’t serve food, but it does have a bundle of local takeout menus that visitors can use to order food they can enjoy alongside their drinks and the occasional performance of local live music.
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.
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 Rosé. Visitors can tour the vineyard and sip reds and whites at the winery's tasting bar, which hosts live music on Sunday.
What started as a back-yard patch of grapes has grown over the last 17 years into the sprawling Annelise Winery. Overseen by an experienced winemaker with multiple awards, the family-owned operation now lays claim to more than 7,000 vines. The grapes from those transform into a variety of handcrafted wines, which range from classic reds to sweet and dry whites. Whenever the winery is open to the public, visitors can head into the tasting room to sip samples of a fruit-heavy rose or a bright, semi-sweet white wine, or head out onto the covered porch to gaze out over the rolling plains and ponder the meaning of it all.
Grape Escape Winery’s name isn’t simply a boozy play on a Steve McQueen movie. For its vintners, planting their own vineyard signified the chance to break free from the typical work routine and spend more time together. From their 8 acres of grapes—supplemented by pickings from 15 other Iowa vineyards—the crafters fill their casks with 13 varietals ranging from sweet to dry. Visitors to the winery may saunter through the pastoral rows of vines, savor tastes of a red, white, or blush over the fire pit, or, on Saturday nights in summer, take in a movie right in the vineyard.
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.