Seasons of the Vine: Wines, wineries and wine events

margocopyI had the good fortune to set aside time in June for a winery road trip.

   Heading north on Highway 52, my first stop was Cannon River Winery. From there, I traveled to Red Wing’s Falconer Vineyards where their bistro and wrap-around deck affords wonderful views of the vineyards and the hilly landscape. Alexis Bailly winery in Hastings is a natural stop before continuing to the Twin Cities, where I enjoyed St. Croix Vineyard.

    The trip reminded me of a past community education trip and the pleasure of being in company with others. Traveling alone, however, afforded other opportunities: I did not have to conceal my interest in the white wines from my red-wine-drinking friends.

News from area wineries

If a hot summer day isn’t reason enough to have a glass of chardonnay in hand, try the wood-fired potato pizza at Falconer with their chardonnay. Sinking one’s teeth into the wholesome, unique crust is an experience in itself. Co-owner Dr. Ann Lowe created the formula for the dough, now prepared by a Red Wing bakery. Their innovative oven requires a mere 90 seconds to bake a 9-inch pizza.

    Alexis Bailly expanded its tasting room to add a lovely gift shop. There is also a cooler with cured meats, cheeses—great for that impromptu picnic given numerous tables on the grounds or the spacious deck.     

    Alexis Bailly’s Ratafia will delight your senses. This orange-infused wine is made from red grapes with fruits, herbs and spices.

    Their newest wine is a rich, ruby port-style wine made by adding natural chocolate essence to their Hastings Reserve, which is comprised of Frontenac, Marechal Foch and Leon Millot wines blended from several vintages. Skilled winemakers often use this approach to achieve a finished wine.

Art on the bottle

Art is now “on” the bottle as well as “in” the bottle. The label on Falconer’s new LaCrescent Moon white port is the newest of their “Artisan Edition Label.”

    Recently Cannon River Winery announced their first Sogn Series Artist Labels, created by local artists and featured on the 2010 vintage Sogn Blanc and Sogn Blush wines. Artists are being sought for the 2011 wines and encouraged to visit the vineyard for inspiration. Artwork will be accepted through October 29, 2011 and will be displayed at the winery for voting in November. Visit for details.

Upcoming wine events

Taste of Stillwater
July 9, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
St. Croix Vineyards, Stillwater
Featuring local wine, beer (Lift Bridge brewed in Stillwater), food bands, merchants and artisans. Free parking; $20 advance; $25 at gate.
2nd Annual Cannon Falls Wine and Art Festival
July 16 and 17, Art Show 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; wine tasting Noon–4 p.m.
Hannah’s Bend Park, Cannon Falls
Taste Minnesota wines, browse artist booths and enjoy local talent and cuisine. Sponsored by the Sons of the American Legion. Proceeds support construction of the Veteran Memorial in East Riverside Park. $20 fee for wine tasting

Community Education art-wine tour
July 16, See page 53 for information. This trip will explore the town of Stockholm as well.

Outdoor patios at nearby Salem Glen and Whitewater Winery in Plainview are growing in popularity, so arrive early to assure a seat.

Margo Stich is food editor for Rochester Women magazine. She will be hosting an upcoming food/wine tour. See page 53. Persons interested in the Olmsted County Fair Annual Amateur Wine Competition can visit by July 15th.