By joining a wine club you learn about new wine and can sample them without investing in a full bottle. So, let’s take a little trip and explore great ways to expand your palate.
TRAVEL TO NEW DESTINATIONS
The Great River Road Wine Trail (GRRWT) includes 11 wineries in Minnesota and Wisconsin, all situated along the Mississippi River. In 2009, the wineries on the GRRWT put their heads together and created the Wine Passport. “It’s a great way to compare wines and make a nice day of it,” says David Danzinger of Danzinger Vineyards.
You can pick up a Wine Passport at any of the 11 wineries. Your mission is to travel to each winery and get your Wine Passport stamped. Once your Wine Passport is full, you return it to the last winery. There, you receive a GRRWT wine glass. The Wine Passport is free; however, some wineries charge a small fee for tasting their wines.
At the end of the year, the stamped Passports are gathered and a drawing is held at one of the wineries along the GRRWT. Marvin Seppanen, owner of Garvin Heights Winery, says, “This year the winner is someone from Mason City, Iowa. The winner will be announced later in the year and will receive a case of wine including a bottle from each of the wineries along the trail.”
You can get your GRRWT Passport stamped at your leisure, or you can participate in two events: “June Bloom” in the summer and “Holiday Harvest” in the fall. The cost for each event is $25 per person. Seppanen says, “Many like to travel to all 11 wineries over one weekend to fill their Passports.”
“At the events each summer and fall, the wineries select three wines for tasting and they offer a variety of appetizers,” says Seppanen. He also says if you participate, you receive a wine glass and a tote to carry the wine you purchase.
EXPLORING APOLLO Wine & Spirits
Apollo Wine & Spirits, next to Best Buy in north Rochester, has one of the largest selections of wine in the state. They have local, domestic and international wines ranging from $3 to $300 a bottle.
Their wine club is a fantastic way to explore new wines. They have knowledgeable staff to help you transition from buying the usual to buying something new. Robert Riggs, manager at Apollo, says, “I try to stretch a customer’s palate. If someone loves a smooth, easy to drink Pinot Grigio, I might recommend a Chenin Blanc.”
The Apollo Wine & Spirits Wine Club is $25 per year and offers generous discounts for single or multiple bottles of wine. They offer one free, in-home wine tasting per year. You pick the schedule and invite eight to 10 of your friends to your home. Then, Riggs or Sam Kolas, owner of Apollo, will bring the wine to you and educate you and your friends about each wine.
ANDY’S LIQUOR LOCATIONS
There are four Andy’s Liquor locations in Rochester and every Saturday from 1-5 p.m. all locations, except for the Express store, offer free wine tasting. Although there is not a wine club, there is a 15% discount for the featured wines of the month.
In their northeast facility, Andy’s Liquor plans to offer wine courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced wine lovers. Steve Shanahan, manager of the Crossroads location says, “The northeast store has a beautiful conference room that holds about 35-50 people. It’s the perfect place to hold these wine courses.”
LOCAL WINERIES WITH WINE CLUBS
Joining a wine club gives you excellent discounts, free tastings and invitations to special events. Wine clubs along the GRRWT are Valley Vineyard and Eagle’s Landing Winery. Other local wineries with wine clubs are Salem Glen Winery, Alexis Bailly Vineyard and Four Daughters Winery.
Nicole Czarnomski is a freelance writer.