Carlos Creek Winery: Alexandria, MN
Walking down the dirt path onto Carlos Creek Winery, as you pass the white picket fence you’ll see a candy apple red restored 1950s Ford pickup, an equestrian barn and rows of apple trees. While it’s the wine that may draw you here, it’s this country charm that will make you want to stay the afternoon.
One of Minnesota’s largest vineyards, Carlos Creek offers a relaxing getaway in Alexandria. Set on 160 acres, with 12 acres dedicated to grape vines and 15 acres of apple trees, Carlos Creek has created a wide range of award winning white, blush, red, dessert and apple wines. The vineyard grows Minnesota grapes like La Crescent and Marquette, as well as apples like the Honeycrisp, Minnesota’s official state apple.
Inside the wine shop and tasting room, guests can find a spot at the winery’s large dark wood bar, handmade by owner Kim Bradeson and open for tastings daily. For a nominal fee guests can select five tastings from among the winery’s numerous wines, or enjoy an entire glass while relaxing at the bar or outside where you’ll hear live music on the weekends.
Visit in September during the annual three-day grape stomp, which attracts 14,000 people to the vineyard. The event features live bands, handmade goods from more than 150 artists and grape stomping competition among more than 200 participating teams.
What to Try:
Five-time award winning Minnesota Nice Wobegon White is the winery’s bestselling white wine. Similar to a Riesling, the wine is made from Minnesota’s Frontenac Gris grapes.
Among reds, try the Cabernet Sauvignon, aged two years in oak and a two-time American Wine Society winner. Other reds to try include the Marquette, made from Minnesota grapes, and the six-time award winning Minnesota Nice Hot Dish Red.
For a sweet wine, try the gold medal winning Apple Wine. And the Carlos Creek Port is a must try dessert wine, made from Frontenac grapes and brandy.
If You Go:
The winery is open for tastings year round and offers winery tours daily. Tastings are a good value and tours are free. During the summer months, Carlos Creek hosts live music on the weekends. Every Saturday in the summer, the winery hosts a craft fair in a renovated equestrian barn. Local artists offer handmade housewares, clothing, candles, soaps and other goods.
While You’re There:
Enjoy history in downtown Alexandria. Visit the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum to view beautifully restored wooden boats. Nearby, take a peek at history in the Kensington Runestone Museum, when the historic stone is on display.
Grab a bite to eat at Alexandria’s best kept secret, Chet’s Lakeside Inn, a season favorite for fried chicken. For a classy dining experience, enjoy dinner in a restored railroad dining car at Weston Station, offering steak, seafood, pasta and salads.
Make it a weekend getaway by checking into Cedar Rose Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic downtown Alexandria. Or stay at the Arrowwood Resort to enjoy boating, golf, dining and a spa.
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