Women & Wine: Winter Wine Activities

Winter can be long and dreary, and it can make many of us want to hibernate at home (with a good glass of wine). Get yourself out this winter with others who also enjoy festive spirits and a good tasting wine.


Add SocialCE to your social calendar February 18, 19 and 20, 2016. The Rochester Downtown Alliance hosts this event in its eighth year, transforming Peace Plaza into an outdoor wonderland. It features seven 12-foot, uniquely designed and themed ice bars from select restaurants and bars in the downtown area. Rochester Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jenna Bowman says, “The ambiance this event creates is fantastic. It gives people a reason to get outside in our colder months. There are also unique events like marriage proposals that make SocialICE pretty amazing.”


Initially, the purpose of the event was to allure people downtown for fancy cocktails, great music and creative sculptures. But there’s been a push to get folks to move inside and visit other establishments for appetizers or dinner, which can make the evening more enjoyable.

But before you go inside to thaw out, take advantage of all there is to offer outside. Because this is a visual experience, pick up a selfie stick from the information kiosk and pose with your pals in front of your favorite themed ice bar. Bowman says, “Visitors are encouraged to take pictures and use #SocialICE on their social media platforms. We anticipate giveaways and promotions for those who post images with #SocialICE.”

After you return the selfie stick to the information kiosk, pick up a token and vote for your favorite themed ice bar. Then ask where to find the airplane-shaped ice sculpture and register to win two free travel vouchers courtesy of the Rochester International Airport.


Bear Creek hosts the annual Wines of the World on Friday, March 4, 2016 to raise money for group home residences. Bear Creek Services Operations and Events Coordinator Pam Alberts says, “This is our largest fundraiser of the year, and this year we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of Wines of the World, so we’re going all out.”

Bear Creek Services provides group homes in Rochester for developmentally disabled individuals or folks with traumatic brain injury. Alberts says, “We want our residents to be active members of the community. We provide residents with the staff and tools to make that happen.” She says many of the residents of Bear Creek work in local schools or grocery stores, or they’re employed through PossAbilities and Ability Building Center (ABC).

Wines of the World, featuring 25 wine vendors from Minnesota, will provide tastings of about 100 wines from all around the world. Ted Alberts, wine buyer at Andy’s Liquor, says, “The wine vendors are extremely knowledgeable; some are even sommeliers.” This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about different wines from different regions.

The event also features exquisite food pairings prepared by the Rochester International Event Center, where this fundraiser is located. Prepare your taste buds for salmon sandwiches on rye bread, shaved New York Strip with horseradish sauce, warm spinach and artichoke dip and a gourmet pizza station. For dessert, there are mini cheesecakes, coconut apricot macaroons and chocolate petitfores.

The fundraiser is $50 per person or $45 if purchased by Saturday, February 27. It includes wine sampling with food pairing, live music, a commemorative wine glass and the satisfaction of donating money to a wonderful cause.


When you are looking for a romantic date with your sweetheart or a fun getaway with your girlfriends this winter, visit an area winery. Every Thursday Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery hosts an event featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and an intimate tour with the winemaker. You’ll learn about Minnesota grapes and wine production, along with the equipment used in the process. Call in advance to schedule a reservation at 507-346-7300.

Other local wineries are open all winter. The Post Town Winery (posttownwinery.com) tasting room is open on weekends with live music on Saturday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. Salem Glen Winery (salemglenvineyard.com) is conveniently located in southwest of Rochester with winter hours and events as well. Rather than hunkering down at home, go out for wine this winter.


February 18, 19 & 20, 2016
Peace Plaza Downtown Rochester
5-9 p.m. Thursday
4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday


Bear Creek Services Wines of the World

March 4, 2016
Rochester International Event Center
$50 per ticket, $45 by February 27


Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery

Visit their website for a sample menu fourdaughtersvineyard.com/gourmet-dinner-and-winemaker-tour/

Nicole L. Czarnomski is a freelance writer who lives in St. Charles.