Iowa is known for its picturesque landscapes, cornfields, and charming small towns. But did you know that Iowa is also home to some of the best wineries in the country? From the rolling hills of the Upper Mississippi River Valley to the scenic vineyards of Glenwood, Iowa has a lot to offer when it comes to wine tasting.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a casual wine lover, Iowa’s wineries are worth exploring. Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher is a must-visit for anyone looking for an elegant tasting room and handcrafted wines and spirits. Meanwhile, Buzzed Bee Meadery in Melbourne is a family-owned and operated meadery that offers a unique and refreshing alternative to traditional wines.
If you’re planning a trip to Iowa and want to experience the best wineries the state has to offer, look no further. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the top 10 wineries in Iowa that are worth a visit. From award-winning wines to breathtaking views, these wineries are sure to impress even the most discerning wine enthusiasts.
Understanding Iowa’s Wine Scene
Iowa’s wine scene has been growing steadily over the years, with over 100 wineries and vineyards spread throughout the state. The majority of these wineries are located in the eastern and western parts of Iowa, with a few scattered in the central region.
The state’s climate and soil conditions are ideal for growing a variety of grapes, including cold-hardy varieties that can withstand Iowa’s harsh winters. Some of the popular grape varieties grown in Iowa include Marquette, La Crescent, Frontenac, and Brianna.
One of the best ways to explore Iowa’s wine scene is through the Iowa Wine Trail, which features a collection of wineries located in different parts of the state. The trail is divided into three regions: the Western Iowa Wine Trail, the Scenic Rivers Wine Trail, and the Heart of Iowa Wine Trail.
The Western Iowa Wine Trail is located in the western part of the state and features wineries that are known for their unique and flavorful wines. The Scenic Rivers Wine Trail is located in the northeastern part of the state and features wineries that are located along the beautiful Mississippi River. The Heart of Iowa Wine Trail is located in the central part of the state and features wineries that are known for their award-winning wines.
Visitors to Iowa’s wineries can enjoy a variety of experiences, including wine tastings, vineyard tours, and special events. Many of the wineries also offer food pairings and live music, making them a great destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Best Wineries in Iowa: A Concise Guide to Top Picks
Notable Wineries in Iowa
Eagles Landing Winery
Eagles Landing Winery is located in the picturesque town of Dubuque. The winery is known for producing a wide range of wines, including sweet and dry varieties. Their offerings cater to a multitude of palates, making it an excellent destination for wine enthusiasts.
Address: 127 North St, Marquette, IA 52158, United States
Cedar Ridge Winery
Cedar Ridge Winery, situated in Swisher, offers a diverse selection of wines. This winery is also known for its scenic views and captivating ambiance, which makes it an ideal stop for wine lovers looking for a memorable experience.
Address: 1441 Marak Rd NW, Swisher, IA 52338, United States
Stone Cliff Winery
Stone Cliff Winery, positioned alongside the Mississippi River, boasts a beautiful setting for those seeking to sample some of Iowa’s finest wines. The winery offers a variety of wines, from reds and whites to fruit wines, ensuring that visitors can find a wine that suits their preferences.
Address: 600 Star Brewery Drive, Dubuque, IA 52001, United States
Madison County Winery
Madison County Winery is dedicated to producing high-quality wines. Known for its wide range of offerings, the winery provides wine enthusiasts with an opportunity to explore a diverse array of crafted varietals, sweet blends, and dessert wines.
Address: 3021 St Charles Rd, St Charles, IA 50240, United States
Fireside Winery, nestled in the countryside, offers a cozy yet sophisticated setting for sampling wines that highlight Iowa’s unique terroir. With a focus on quality and consistency, the winery produces a selection of wines that appeal to various tastes.
Address: 1755 P Ave, Marengo, IA 52301, United States
Jasper Winery is an urban establishment that showcases the potential of Iowa’s grape-growing capabilities. Located within the city, this winery offers visitors a chance to experience a taste of rural Iowa in an urban setting.
Address: 2400 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50321, United States
Park Farm Winery
Park Farm Winery is dedicated to producing wines that embody the unique flavors and characteristics of the Iowa landscape. With a passion for local agriculture, this winery is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Address: 15159 Thielen Rd, Epworth, IA 52045, United States
Soldier Creek Winery
Soldier Creek Winery is known for its exceptional wines that showcase the quality and diversity of Iowa’s grape varieties. Visitors can enjoy wine tastings, tours, and live events in a serene environment.
Address: 1584 Paragon Ave, Fort Dodge, IA 50501, United States
Summerset Winery specializes in creating approachable wines that cater to a wide range of palates. This winery is also known for hosting events, making it a popular destination for wine enthusiasts looking to indulge in both wine and entertainment.
Address: 15101 Fairfax St, Indianola, IA 50125, United States
Exploring the Wine Varieties
Iowa is home to nearly 100 wineries, each offering a unique experience with a variety of wine styles. French hybrid and American varieties are most commonly grown in Iowa, with a few plantings of Vitis vinifera grapes. As such, the most popular wines produced in Iowa are Briana, LaCrescent, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, La Crosse, and Vignoles.
Iowa’s red wines are known for their bold and complex flavors. Marquette is a popular red wine grape variety grown in the state. It produces a wine with a deep ruby color, rich tannins, and flavors of cherry, blackberry, and plum. Cabernet Franc is another popular red wine grape variety grown in Iowa, producing a wine with a spicy, peppery flavor.
Iowa’s white wines are known for their crisp and refreshing flavors. La Crescent is a popular white wine grape variety grown in the state. It produces a wine with a floral aroma and flavors of apricot, peach, and citrus. Vignoles is another popular white wine grape variety grown in Iowa, producing a wine with a tropical fruit flavor.
Iowa’s dry wines are perfect for those who prefer a less sweet taste. Dry red wines like Marquette and Cabernet Franc are great options for those who enjoy a bold and complex flavor. Dry white wines like La Crescent and Vignoles are perfect for those who prefer a crisp and refreshing taste.
Iowa’s sweet wines are perfect for those who enjoy a fruity taste. Fruit wines like pear are popular in Iowa, producing a wine with a light and refreshing taste. Port-style wines are also popular in Iowa, producing a sweet and rich flavor.
For those who prefer something other than wine, Iowa also has a variety of other beverages to offer. Beer, cider, and gin are available at some wineries. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery in Swisher, Iowa offers a Silver Label Single Malt Whiskey made from 100% Iowa corn.
With nearly 100 wineries and close to 300 vineyards, Iowa has well-established wine trails that are absolutely worth exploring. There are 8 official wine trails, all offering very unique experiences.
Food and Wine Pairing
Iowa wineries are known for their exceptional wines and delicious food pairings. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just starting to explore the world of wine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the best food and wine pairings to try at Iowa wineries:
Cheese and Wine Pairings
Cheese and wine are a classic pairing that never goes out of style. Many Iowa wineries offer cheese boards with a variety of local cheeses that pair perfectly with their wines. For example, Tassel Ridge Winery in Leighton offers a Wine and cheese pairing experience. You can sample four Iowa cheeses that pair well with Tassel Ridge wines. Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher also offers a cheese board with a selection of local cheeses.
Meat and Wine Pairings
Meat and wine are another classic pairing that can’t be beat. Many Iowa wineries offer meat boards with a variety of meats that pair perfectly with their wines. For example, Glyn Mawr Winery Local in Mount Vernon offers a charcuterie board with a selection of meats and cheeses. Pair that with one of their award-winning wines for a delicious and satisfying experience.
Pizza and Wine Pairings
Pizza and wine may not seem like an obvious pairing, but it’s actually a match made in heaven. Many Iowa wineries offer wood-fired pizza that pairs perfectly with their wines. For example, Tassel Ridge Winery in Leighton offers a Pizza and wine pairing experience. You can sample four different pizzas that pair well with Tassel Ridge wines. Pair that with a glass of your favorite wine for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Winery Tours and Events
Visiting wineries in Iowa is not just about tasting wines, but also about experiencing the culture, history, and lifestyle of the region. Most wineries in Iowa offer tours and events that provide visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the winemaking process, meet the winemakers, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the vineyards.
Many wineries have tasting rooms where visitors can sample a variety of wines and purchase their favorite bottles. These tasting rooms are usually open during the weekends, and some wineries offer guided tastings with knowledgeable staff who can provide insights into the different wine varieties.
In addition to tastings, many wineries in Iowa also host live music events, especially during the summer months. These events are perfect for wine lovers who want to enjoy a glass of wine while listening to live music in a beautiful outdoor setting.
For those who want to learn more about winemaking, most wineries offer tours of their facilities. These tours provide visitors with an opportunity to see how wine is made, from the crushing of the grapes to the bottling of the finished product.
Wineries in Iowa are also popular venues for private events, such as weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions. Many wineries have event spaces that can accommodate large groups and offer catering services and other amenities to make the event memorable.
Iowa’s Unique Winery Locations
Iowa’s wineries are not only known for their exceptional wines but also for their unique locations. From charming villages to rolling hills and cornfields, Iowa’s wineries offer a diverse range of experiences. Here are some of the most unique winery locations in Iowa:
LeClaire is a picturesque village located on the banks of the Mississippi River. It is home to the Wide River Winery, which offers stunning views of the river and the rolling hills of Iowa. Visitors can enjoy a glass of wine on the patio or take a tour of the winery.
Village of East Davenport
The Village of East Davenport is a historic district that is home to the Iowa Wine Experience. This winery offers a unique experience as it is located in a former fire station. Visitors can enjoy wine tastings, live music, and food from local vendors.
Indianola is home to Summerset Winery, which is located on a charming 12-acre estate. Visitors can take a tour of the vineyard and winery, enjoy a picnic on the lawn, or attend one of the winery’s many events.
Dewitt is home to Tycoga Vineyard and Winery, which is located on a picturesque hillside overlooking the rolling hills of Iowa. Visitors can enjoy a glass of wine on the patio or take a tour of the winery.
Burlington is home to the Tama Winery, which is located in a former Masonic Temple. This unique location offers visitors a chance to taste some of Iowa’s finest wines while enjoying the historic charm of the building.
Crescent is home to the Prairie Crossing Vineyard and Winery, which is located on a beautiful estate surrounded by rolling hills and cornfields. Visitors can enjoy a glass of wine in the wine garden or take a tour of the vineyard and winery.
Iowa’s wine trails offer visitors a chance to explore the state’s wineries and vineyards. The Iowa Wine Trail, for example, takes visitors on a tour of eight wineries located throughout the state. Visitors can taste a variety of wines and enjoy the scenic beauty of Iowa’s countryside.
Overall, Iowa’s wineries offer visitors a unique and diverse range of experiences. Whether you’re looking for a charming village, rolling hills, or a historic building, Iowa’s wineries have something for everyone.
Awards and Recognition
Iowa wineries have been recognized for their exceptional wines and spirits, winning numerous awards and accolades. The Iowa Wine Growers Association hosts an annual Iowa Wine Awards recognition event, where award nominees are announced and presented.
In 2022, the Iowa Wine Growers Association announced the list of award nominees for the Iowa Wine Awards recognition event. Award winners were announced and presented at the 2022 Iowa Wine Awards Social held in Ankeny, Iowa. The awards recognize excellence in winemaking, grape growing, marketing, and overall contributions to the Iowa wine industry.
Some of the most notable wineries in Iowa have won prestigious awards for their wines. Fireside Winery in Marengo, Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette, and Stone Cliff Winery in Dubuque have all won best-of-show awards at the Iowa Wine Competition.
Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, located in Swisher, Iowa, has also won numerous awards for its handcrafted wines and spirits. Their wines have won awards at the Mid-American Wine Competition, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and the Iowa Wine Competition.
Other Iowa wineries that have won awards include Ackerman Winery, Tassel Ridge Winery, and Park Farm Winery. These wineries have won awards for their red and white wines, dessert wines, and fruit wines.
Other Unique Offerings
In addition to the excellent wines, many Iowa wineries offer unique experiences and products that make them stand out. Here are some of the other unique offerings available at Iowa wineries:
Hot Mulled Wine
During the colder months, some wineries offer hot mulled wine, which is a warm and spiced version of their regular wine. This is a perfect way to warm up on a chilly day while enjoying a glass of wine.
Snus Hill Winery’s Cheese Ball
Snus Hill Winery is known for its delicious cheese ball, which is made with its award-winning wine and is available for purchase at the winery. This is a great snack to enjoy with a glass of wine or to take home as a souvenir.
Some wineries offer wine slushies, which are a refreshing and fun way to enjoy wine. These slushies are typically made with a sweet wine and can be enjoyed on their own or as a dessert.
Many wineries offer wine flights, which are a great way to try several different wines at once. Flights typically include several small pours of different wines, allowing visitors to sample a variety of wines in one sitting.
Some wineries also offer mead, which is a type of wine made from honey. Mead can be sweet or dry and is a unique and delicious alternative to traditional wine.
Overall, Iowa wineries offer a variety of unique experiences and products that are sure to please any wine lover. From hot mulled wine to wine flights to mead, there is something for everyone to enjoy.