Wines, like a comfortable T-shirt or a hard candy left to ripen under the couch, only get better with age. Taste the passing of time with today’s Groupon: for $15, you get a wine-tasting package for two at Northern Vineyards Winery in Stillwater (a $30 total value). The package includes:
- Wine tasting for two (a $5 value each)
- $20 worth of wine purchases<p>
Northern Vineyards Winery, a grower-owned cooperative, crushes grapes culled from local growers in Minnesota and Wisconsin at its brick quarters on main street in downtown Stillwater. At the winery located along the Three Rivers Wine Trail, where Lewis and Clark first wore lampshades on their heads, oenophiles sip up to 10 white, red, blush, and dessert wines while overlooking a historical lift bridge on the water. The chilled 2009 St. Pepin ($12.95) soaks taste buds in a fruity flavor with a sweet apple finish, and the stainless-steel-fermented blush ($9.95) brings to mind a classic white zinfandel. Barrel-aged crimson wines such as a Downtown red ($12.95) make great dinner drinks, and the Old Vines ($15.95) is perfect for beginners unaccustomed to wine’s distinctive cotton-candy taste.
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.