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.
Taste of Stillwater's annual festival, established in 2011, directs the spotlight toward the palate-popular offerings of local wineries, breweries, restaurants, and food trucks. Throughout the daylong celebration, empty tummies shuffle from station to station filling up on samples of refreshing beverages and foods, fueling bodies to explore the festival grounds' shopping opportunities and to tour Saint Croix Vineyards. Families stake their claim on the lawn area with blankets, foldable chairs, and giant bronze statues of their great-grandfathers before they feast their ears on live music. Taste of Stillwater dedicates a portion of its proceeds to charities including Valley Outreach, a community-based nonprofit organization that supports low-income people with donations of food, clothing, and other necessities.
Sometimes, you’d rather just enjoy a view of the fairways than be on them. That’s why the staff at Danny’s Bar & Grill, located at Stoneridge Golf Club, welcomes guests to sit on their expansive patio, which gives them clear views of the green. The patio features an outdoor fire pit where guests can keep warm on cool nights as they wait for plates of chef Bohnert’s Guinness-braised short ribs or mahi mahi encrusted with macadamia nuts. When patio weather is over, guests can still hang out by the indoor fireplace in the dining room where a slew of high-definition TVs showcase golf matches and, if the golf match turns out right, golf fights. On weekend evenings, live bands entertain in the dining room.
• For $93, you get two months of weekly competitive cheer classes for kids ages 8–18 plus a cheerleading top and lycra shorts (up to a $244 value). • For $65, you get two months of weekly noncompetitive-cheer classes for kids ages 8–18 and competitive-cheer classes for kids ages 6–8, plus a cheerleading top and lycra shorts (a $164 value). • For $20, you get one month of weekly adaptive-cheer classes, geared toward kids 7 and up with physical or cognitive disabilities (a $55 value).
Hosted by an eclectically elegant collection of inns and museums peppered throughout the St. Croix River Valley, the 2011 Chocolate March launches guests on self-guided, cocoa-centric excursions. Guests munch on chocolate delicacies and take in architectural desserts with chocolate-dipped innkeepers at five separate stops, one of which will feature a wine pairing, on the Sunday jaunts (different destinations are featured each weekend). Depending on their chosen date, chocolate hunters can relax under the mannered, leaf-shaded porticos of Rosewood's Queen Anne mansion, take in the brick-draped Gilded Age grandeur of the Water Street Inn, or plot a sweet rustic retreat or candy-coated coup d'état by Wissahickon Farms' general store façade and peppermint-stick split-rail fence.
The par-three 11th at Bristol Ridge Golf Course is a formidable sight from the tee box. Armed with whatever club or curtain rod they can hit roughly 130 yards, golfers peer at a green wreathed by a semi-circular pond, which constitutes a watery grave for any tee shot that strays long, left, or right. And that's the third easiest hole at Bristol Ridge Golf Course's 6,582-yard, par 72 course. Rolling terrain, tree-lined fairways, and intermittent ponds—water comes into play in some form on 10 holes—characterize the layout, anchored by a par-five on each nine that rate as the two most difficult holes. Golf instructor Leif Bjornson roams the course and its practice facilities, offering clinics and private lessons for golfers of all ages and abilities that want to improve their game so they can finally ask their crush to caddy for them.
Course at a Glance:
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