wine bottles lined up

Why Wine Lovers Should Visit Stillwater, Minn.

wine bottles in Stillwater, MNSo I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I just had my first visit to Stillwater, Minn. It’s surprising, considering I’ve grown up in Minnesota and I like to explore. I didn’t really know what to expect from this sizeable town, better known as the “Birthplace of Minnesota.” What I found, is that it’s a foodie/wine lover’s paradise!

My husband and I stumbled across our first gem when taking a self-guided, historic walking tour of Stillwater. We couldn’t help but notice a miniature castle carved from the limestone bluffs. Housed within this castle is Luna Rossa Wine Shop.

Luna Rossa Wine Shop in Stillwater, MNUpon opening the door, we were immediately welcomed in and asked if we wanted to participate in a wine tasting. Of course we said, “yes!”

Tony and I have been to our fair share of wine tastings. They’re a great way to sample many varieties of wine that you normally wouldn’t try. It’s wonderful to discover what you truly enjoy so you can avoid wasting  your money on something that doesn’t delight your palette. Tony and I agreed that the woman at Luna Rossa Wine Shop not only selected a stellar set of wines to sample, but also provided an incredibly educational experience for the participants. When presenting each wine, she detailed it’s creation from where it was grown, the variety of grapes, the process it undertook, how it should properly be served, and what pair each wine with.

When the sampling concluded, we were able to walk around their cave-like shop and look for the wines we sampled.

Head down the main drag and you’ll get to Northern Vineyards Winery, which is a cooperative between vineyards across Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is also one of the oldest wineries in Minnesota and one of the first wine cooperatives in the United States.

Northern Vineyards Winery wine glassesThe staff was incredibly knowledgeable about all of their 30 varieties of wine and they were always willing to tell us more about their co op, the types of grapes they use (varieties that can withstand the cold), and what foods would make excellent pairings for their wine. So why should you stop here? If the fact that this is a grassroots co op hasn’t piqued your interest, then maybe appeal of sampling ten wines at once will change your mind. Yes, Northern Vineyards Winery offers the largest sampling that I’ve ever been to. They guarantee that visitors have the opportunity to sample a wide range of wines to truly discover their personal favorites. At $5 a sampling, this is the best deal you’ll get in town.

Here’s a rough picture of our sampling menu. As you can see, we sipped everything from white and sweet to spicy and red. This is a MUST  when you’re visiting Stillwater, MN.

FYI: My favorite was the Yellow Moccasin.

Northern Vineyards Winery Wine Menu in Stillwater, MN

Here’s another piece of advice, when in Stillwater, make a point to stop at Domacin Wine Bar. This little wine bar was actually featured in Travel+Leisure Magazine as one of “America’s 25 Best Wine Bars”. If that doesn’t excite your tastebuds, I don’t know what will. Unfortunately, we were visiting when it was closed so we didn’t get to go, but you better believe we’ll be taking another trip to Stillwater ASAP!