Category Archives: Winery

Prairie Berry Winery, Hill City, SD

Prairie Berry Winery, 23837 US-385, Hill City, SD 57745

Hill City, SD, just south of Rapids City has a winery row, and Prairie Berry Winery started it.  I have been to this winery a few times on my way through SD or when visiting the badlands.

The wines are made from the sweet berries that are found on the prairie.  Despite being located in SD this wine maker has a long history of making wine dating back 5 generations.  The first time I visited this winery I knew that these people know what they are doing and I was honestly surprised to find that with all of the novices trying to start wineries these days.

Calamity Jane 011

They have their berry wines and their old world wines.  I really like their wines containing rhubarb.  The sweetness and flavor is just amazing.  Red Ass Rhubarb has a cute little story behind it.  You will have to ask about it when you go there.  Expect to buy a bottle of this one.  It is a delicious mistake.

Calamity Jane with her strawberry flavors is another one of my favorites.  I am a sucker for strawberries.

Calamity Jane 009

When you arrive at the winery you should walk up to the bar and choose your tastings.  They let you try four or five for free.  The individual serving is witty and tells you the back stories which is really neat to learn.  Choose the ones that you like based on your taste testing and then load up a cart.

Buy a case worth for two reasons.  One, when you get these wines home you will find you go through them way faster than you would expect and if you do not live in the area it might be a while before you get back.  They will ship the wines to you if you find that you drank them all, but there are a lot of restrictions including the weather.  This is a testament to a good winery.  A good winery knows that if the temperature is too hot or too cold that the wine will be ruined.  The second reason to buy a case is that there is a discount.

You can combine your wine tasting with some food as well.  They have a variety of sandwiches, cheeses, and pizzas that you can pair with your wine.  There is even a kids menu if you are in the neighborhood on a family vacation.  I tried one of the cheeses while tasting, but we didn’t eat here.  The prices seem reasonable, not cheap, just what I am used to in the cities, so probably a little on the high side for South Dakota.  The kitchen looks really clean.

The wine is amazing.  If you are so inclined, after you enjoy the amazing wine at Prairie Berry Winery you can check out Naked Winery and Stone Face Winery & Distillery.  Both are located just down the road.  I have not been to either one since it seems like they might just be leaching off of Prairie Berry’s customers, but I honestly have no idea.  Maybe they are great.

Prairie Berry Winery is definitely a place I suggest visiting on your Mount Rushmore, badlands vacation or if you live anywhere close by.  It is a great winery that knows what they are doing and makes some super delicious wines.

Falconer Vineyard

Falconer Vineyard – 3572 Old Tyler Rd, Red Wing, MN 55066

The number one reason to visit Falconer Vineyard is to see what having a true passion for wine making tastes like.  John Falconer loves tinkering with the taste of wine.

Falconer Winery 3

It looks like they have expanded to serving pizza along with their wines since I was last at this vineyard.  John is innovative and knows how please his audience.  I can only guess that his passion for pizza is as great as that for his wines.

Check out the vines while you are there.  Did you know that they all have to be covered every winter?

Falconer Winery 2

Should you visit this vineyard?  Absolutely, I cannot wait to return myself.

Cannon River Winery

Cannon River Winery – 421 Mill Street West, Cannon Falls, MN 55009

“Wine is for drinking.”

Cannon River Winery went for drinkable wines in what they produce and enjoyable entertainment in their vineyard and winery.  The winery is in Cannon Falls while the vineyard is out of town.

You can help with the picking and watch as they bottle the wine depending on when you arrive.  They offer wine tastings in general and in a formal setting.

Cannon River Winery 10

They had a French wine maker come in to help them figure out how to do it right.  This made their wine better than most that I have tried in Minnesota.  They did not go for flashy, just a good drinkable wine.

Cannon River Winery French wine maker

I like this winery.  I have unfortunately had one bad experience with their wine and one bottle was their error.  The cork was damaged.  The rest could have been a storing issue on my part.

Should you check out this winery?  Yes, I would say it is worth a stop.  And when you finish at the winery pop across the street and grab lunch.

Alexis Bailly Vineyard

Alexis Bailly Vineyard – 18200 Kirby Ave So., Hastings, MN 55033

Alexis Bailly Vineyard, it was the best of atmospheres, it was the worst of wines.

grapevines outside of Alexis Bailly

The Alexis Bailly Vineyard will draw you in between the vines being right there, close enough to touch, to the tasting area, and the outdoor area where you can sit and drink.  I wanted to bring a basket of crackers and cheeses and make a picnic and enjoy wine at this vineyard.  Of all of the Minnesota vineyards this one feels like a real vineyard and winery.

wine equipment Alexis Bailly

Unfortunately I cannot say the same about the wine.  I will put in a disclaimer that the winery had just passed to the daughter and she did not seem to care about the wine as much as would be expected.  It is possible that she simply was a bit overwhelmed.  I did not taste a single wine during my visit that I wanted to drink more of or purchase.  That being said I am not sure if the wine has improved since then.  Sometimes people have a bad year and it takes time to figure out exactly what you are doing.

wine casks and portrait at Alexis Bailly

The wines feature a Frontenac grape which was developed by the U of M to withstand Minnesota winters.  Hardier does not always translate to a great tasting grape and part of my issue was probably this particular grape in their wine.

It looks like they may have won an award with one of their wines back in 2014 which had the Frontenac grape in it so somebody must like it.

rock chair at Alexis Bailly

If you want to enjoy a beautiful winery, see the grapes, sample some wines, and maybe sit back and take in the vineyard I would suggest going to this winery once.  Maybe the wine will not disappoint you.  It just was not for my pallet.