Iowa’s rich, fertile soil makes it an ideal area for agriculture and it has begun to distinguish itself as a destination for wine lovers and aspiring sommeliers with its now-blossoming wineries.
Iowa’s wine culture is still fairly new, with new wineries opening their doors only in the past twenty years. But these days, many of the 99 counties in the state boast their own top-notch wineries and vineyards. So, we would definitely recommend these wineries as a “must-visit” for wine lovers.
The Iowa Wine Trail, USA
If you’re stopping in Iowa or passing through, you’ll certainly find plenty of things to do in Des Moines. And if by chance you’re in town for a few days longer, you’ll find a few more quintessential Midwest stops on your way. You’ll almost certainly want to stick around for Iowa’s world-class Wine Trail and many tasting rooms to see what the Midwest’s best has to offer. You’ll find Upper Mississippi Valley and Western Iowa wines with plenty of accolades, scenic views and, of course, plenty of events.
5 of Iowa’s Best Wineries That You Need to Visit
Between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids
Cedar Ridge has already gained a name for itself with award-winning wines like their off-dry white, La Crescent, aged only from their own Iowa-grown grapes. For those with highly developed palates or those just cutting their teeth on the intricacies (so to speak), Cedar Ridge’s wines are a treat for the senses. The winery offers excellent food and free tastings, all with a magnificent view—Cedar Ridge is perfectly perched on a hill just between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, making it a prime spot. Along with wine, Cedar Ridge also distills top-notch spirits, making it the first distillery in Iowa. In 2010, Cedar Ridge produced Iowa’s first bourbon since Prohibition.
The Bridges (and wineries) of Madison County, Iowa
Madison County Winery is known for its scenic covered bridges, made famous in Robert James Waller’s novel and movie adaptation, The Bridges of Madison County. Along with its bridges, it should be known for its winery, too. If you’re in town for the famous bridges or even just stopping in on your way to or from the equally excellent (and nearby) Two Saints Winery, Madison County is worth a day trip. The winery often hosts live music, and their pergola is a perfect place to pop open one of their eye-catching bottles on a summer night. Just don’t forget a little local cheese and chocolate to make your experience complete.
The Upper Mississippi Valley wine region in Iowa
West Branch’s excellent winery is a stop on Iowa’s Wine Trail, winding its way across the Upper Mississippi Valley wine region. And it’s no wonder, as Brick Arch has plenty of wine to boast. The winery fits in cozily on West Branch’s Main Street, a historical drag that dates back to the town’s founding in 1851. Among the town’s sights are the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, and the Herbert Hoover birthplace cottage, commemorating the 31st president’s life in his Iowa hometown. Brick Arch tips its hat to West Branch’s small town feel with wines like their Main Street Cuvée, not to mention their historically-appropriate façade. The winery also hosts events and live music every week.
A winery on Iowa’s Great River Road
Another stop on the Iowa Wine Trail, Eagles Landing takes meticulousness and craftsmanship to a whole new level. Located in Marquette, a town just along the banks of the Mississippi, the winery sits on Iowa’s Great River Road. It’s also within three miles of two Iowan state parks, Effigy Mounds and Pikes Peak. Eagles Landing’s wines have won international awards for its unusual pairings and fruity combinations. Sassy Cindy’s Wild Rhubarb wine and Autumn Splendor, a blackberry based dessert wine, are among the prize-winning wines. For those just off Great River Road Wine Trail or exhausted from the trail, Eagles Landing offers daily tastings and a grapevine-bedecked patio for visitors to lounge and enjoy a glass (or a flight).
A fifth-generation winery just outside Iowa City
If you’re a native Iowan, chances are you’ve seen Fireside Winery’s offerings across the state. But that shouldn’t stop you from taking a trip just outside Iowa City to visit Fireside for a glass of their delicious Hearthstone Red, or their seasonal Autumn Spiced Wine. Bill and Rona Wyant, Fireside’s owners, have owned the land where the winery’s vineyards now grow for nearly five generations. The decision to turn their family farm into a winery and vineyard was a marriage of family tradition and a long-held enthusiasm for wine. True to the winery’s name, there are three firepits across the lawn, as well as a fireplace on the winery’s patio, where you can enjoy a glass of wine as it was meant to be enjoyed, by the fire.