It was a fabulous spring day in Iowa! Of course any day that you get to spend some time in a winery is a good day. Iowa has become a very productive wine region in the US, with over 70 operating wineries and many more vineyards just growing grapes a farmers. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love visiting wineries. Rather than standing in the aisle at a mega grocery store liquor department looking at shelf after shelf of unfamiliar bottles with flavors and questionable quality you can taste the wine right there and know exactly what you're taking home!
In west central Iowa there are several wineries and yes, I have been to just about all of them. At each winery I purchase a glass with their logo on it and have acquired quite a collection.
Today I visited the Danish Countryside Vines and Wines, outside of Exira, in Audubon County in western Iowa. The winery and tasting room are located in an updated barn built in 1913. The barn is BEAUTIFUL! The tasting room features a central bar made from wine barrels and gift shop loaded with wine-themed gifts. Step up to the bar and try some of nearly 30 different wines, all made from grapes grown on the farm. They are all outstanding. Shelves around the room display the many awards the wines have won at competitions. Well deserved awards I might add!
At the winery today I sampled several wines. Sugar and Spice, which is a dessert-style wine made with St. Pepin grapes, was sweet and delicious. Maid of the Harbor, named after the Hans Christian Andersen story of the mermaid, made with Edelweiss grapes- it's so much like a Riesling I just fell in love. Next up was Pretty Belle Peach wine, made from fresh peaches, it's a great companion to a cheese plate (as a dessert course, European style!) or just as a nice sipping wine to enjoy in the summer. Crimson and Clover came next, a red blend of several Iowa grapes and a touch of clover flower. This wine goes great with cheese and it equally good chilled or at room temperature. Mill House Cranberry was tart and sweet at the same time with an undeniable cranberry flavor- perfect for the holidays! My brain immediately thought "hmmm........I could make cranberry sauce or jam with this.....". Berryessa wrapped up the tasting for me with bright blackberry flavor and desserty sweetness. Loren, who was pouring in the tasting room, handed me a chocolate Kiss and joked that now I can tell everyone I got a kiss at the winery.
And speaking of Loren, not only is he the sales manager, he also pours in the tasting room, works with the vines, AND performs live every last Thursday of each month during the winery's season. Today he showed us the entire winemaking area- from the fermenting tanks to the bottling process. And to cap off the visit, he demonstrated how to prune the vines.
It was a great visit and I brought a couple bottles home to enjoy, and that, my friends, is exactly what I am doing!!