There’s nothing quite like a wine tour to complete your afternoon. If you’re looking for a day of light drinking surrounded by beautiful landscapes and grapes as far as the eye can see, here is a list of wineries in and around the Des Moines area that offers wine tours, tastings, and other events. Travel to one winery for white wine, then another for red, and maybe even another for some of that fortified elixir. Lyft or Uber is your friend for that kind of adventure.
Located off of Fleur Drive, the Jasper Winery has hosted weddings, tastings, and events for almost ten years and is run by multiple generations of the Groben family. They espouse a unique, local farm philosophy that Iowa-grown grapes should be used in every bottle they produce. They use an innovative process to determine which grape varieties to use during formation and how to age the wine once it’s been barreled. Their dry wines are aged exclusively in French or American Oak casks. The Jasper Winery offers a variety of different events that allow patrons to explore its grounds. Choose the “VIP Tasting Tour” for a 90-minute educational tasting that will teach you how to properly taste wine while you learn about Iowa history ($15), or the “Wine and Chocolate Pairing” session to learn how to best take your chocolate with your wine ($15). The winery also offers a Bachelorette special for bridal parties that include your own table, five bottles of wine, two cheese plates, and chocolates to share for only $100.
Find it: Des Moines, IA
The tasting room at Summerset Winery is open Tuesday-Sunday all year long and Monday by appointment, so you can swing by and sip whenever you’re free. They boast friendly and knowledgeable staff who won’t care whether you’re a wine aficionado or someone just starting to learn the finer points of wine tasting. Their formal wine tasting and tour package costs $20, and includes a taste of six wines and a cheese plate, as well as a look at the cellars and a branded wine glass to take home with you. For a slightly larger fee, tours can be private and include your own dedicated winery representative to show you the ropes and give you their undivided attention (for when all three of your aunts wants to come and you know Aunt Janice will have a million questions). Tickets are easily booked on their website.
Find it: Indianola, IA
Tassel Ridge Winery
The Tassel Ridge Winery offers many events aside from your traditional tasting and wine tour. Every week, they host a wine and small plates event, a wood fired pizza day, a wine and pasta night, and a series of other less regular special events. A hosted tour of the winery is free and includes a winemaking process tour as well as a tour of the grounds.
You’ll learn vineyard planting techniques and get a glimpse of the harvesting process, then the processing, fermenting, blending, and bottling of wine. If you’re with a group, you can book a ride on the Vineyard Grapemobile, an aptly named open-air trailer that will take you through the vineyard at the pace of a brisk stroll while you learn about the vineyard’s history and how to harvest grapes in Iowa’s semi-cold climate.
Find it: Leighton, IA
Fox Ridge Winery
If you’re willing to travel about forty-five outside of Des Moines, the Fox Ridge Winery is one local spot you won’t want to miss. Though the Fox Ridge Winery doesn’t offer tours, it’s the perfect place to go to enjoy live music on the lawn while enjoying their robust wine selection. Their wines are made exclusively from grapes from the region, and they encourage patrons to wander the grounds as they please. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a more independently led experience that allows you to choose your own itinerary.
Find it: Traer, IA
La Vida Loca Winery
The folks at La Vida Loca Winery know how to tell it like it is, and their wines don’t hide behind any pretenses either. They offer four wines, each variety harvested and bottled using the freshest grapes for superior quality. Their La Vida Loca Red variety won a silver medal in the Mid-American wine competition this year.
They don’t offer winery tours but hold feature evenings where they serve guests smoked pork loin or smoked St. Louis ribs, paired with the perfect wine of course. Be sure to check out their Murder Mystery Dinner nights, which involve an action-packed dinner theater experience and the opportunity to discover how Loca La Vida truly is.
Find it: Indianola, IA
Beyond that, Des Moines is a great community that thrives on partnership. If you’re going to wine with a group, there are plenty of wine deals in Des Moines too. Check out the Heart of Iowa Wine Trail, whose mission is to “promote awareness and visibility for Iowa’s rapidly growing grape and wine industry.” On their website, download a Passport and stop at each of the eight wines in their collection for a chance to win a $500 grand prize to be drawn on November 26th, 2017.
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