Iowa wineries are sure to surprise and delight you! There are over 100 wineries in Iowa, with everything from exotic fruit wines to traditional grape wines.
We had no idea there were so many wineries in Iowa! To be completely honest, Iowa as a whole surprised us very much. During our road trip across the Midwest, we fell in love with Iowa and all of the cool and quirky things to see and do. But what really blew us away were the Iowa wineries.
So how many wineries are there in Iowa? Over 100! And there are over 300 vineyards in Iowa across 1,300 acres. That’s a lot of wine! We were in Iowa for a total of five days and as we headed east across the state along I-80, we stopped in various cities. We had a plan to visit museums, gardens, historic homes, etc.
But it was when we were in Winterset, home to the famous covered Bridges of Madison County, that we learned about the wineries in Iowa. In Iowa, they grow different grapes than they do in California or in France; they plant what are known as cold-climate grapes that are able to survive in the cold Iowa winters. So the wine is a little different, but in a delicious and wonderful way!
Once we realized the extent of wineries there were and had our Iowa wineries map, we slightly altered our original list of things to do and made sure to allot time for a few winery visits. If you’d like to see a list of Iowa wineries or just learn more about the different wineries in Iowa, we recommend this website. Below we talk a bit more about some of the wineries we visited…
As we walked up to Madison County Winery, we already knew we were going to love it. There was a large patio with scenic views of the surrounding Iowa landscape and as we walked through the doors we saw comfy couches that looked very inviting. Then we were greeted by Genonne, and her friendly smile had us feeling right at home.
We spent the next hour chatting with Genonne, tasting wines, and nibbling on a cheese platter. We learned more about the wineries in central Iowa and about Madison County Winery itself. The property had been purchased in 2000, and the grapes planted in 2001. It took a few years for the grapes to mature and in 2010 the tasting room was built so now guests could purchase and consume their wines on-site.
We were really impressed with the selection of wines at Madison County Winery. It was hard to pick a favorite, but we will say that the Lollipop was probably the most unique. It tasted like a grape Jolly Rancher!
When passing through the Amana Colonies (seven colonies that were founded by German immigrants back in 1855) definitely stop by Ackerman Winery. This is the oldest operating winery in the state of Iowa!
Ackerman Winery has a large variety of wines, everything from fruit wines to more traditional grape wines. It’s no surprise that they consistently win international wine competitions! While we were there we had a few small samples (they offer daily complimentary tastings) and walked around their large retail area.
We wanted to take more photos, but we were having too much fun sampling wines and looking through their wine items and home decor. Our favorite was a wooden block that said “Wine does not make you fat. It makes you lean… Against walls, chairs, and funny people.”
If you’re passing through West Branch to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, going to Brick Arch Winery is a must. We think this is one of the best wineries in eastern Iowa! They had great wine, food, and the ladies that work there are fun and had us cracking up the whole time we were there.
During our visit, we had a glass of Sweet Daisy, a fruity white wine that is similar to a Moscato. We could have easily drank a bottle of that wine! We also had some spinach artichoke dip that was very yummy.
As we said earlier, they have great wine and food, but the atmosphere here is also what makes Brick Arch Winery so special. You can tell it’s a place that locals love to frequent, which is something we love. And it’d definitely be perfect for a girl’s weekend!
Our last stop in Iowa was Le Claire, and in this charming town we visited Wide River Winery. It’s one of three locations they have. We didn’t spend as much time here as we would have liked because we had to get back on the road, but it definitely deserves a mention. We sampled a couple of wines, including one that paired very well with chocolate. Yum!
We want to mention that there are also a lot of Iowa distilleries. Using local grains, these distilleries are making gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum. So basically they’ve got spirits for everyone! We stopped in to one of the most famous distilleries in Iowa…
Also in Le Claire, visitors will find Mississippi River Distilling Company. This family owned and operated company started small but has grown exponentially and is now one of the top craft distilleries in the country. All of the grains they use come from within 25 miles of their distillery; it doesn’t get much fresher than that!
Their “grain to glass” approach is what makes their spirits so rich and flavorful. If you want to learn more about the company and how they produce their products, stop in between 12pm and 4pm; they offer free daily public tours on the hour (no need to make reservations). If you’d like to go straight to drinking, head to the bar for flights and delicious cocktails.
All of the Iowa wineries that we visited had great tasting wines. Next time we visit the state, we want to travel along an Iowa Wine Trail (there are seven!). We’ll have to make sure someone else is driving though. That was the only bad thing about being on our own while we drove across the state.
We’re just gonna say this… Iowa was lucky we were driving or we would’ve drank a lot more! Haha! For real guys, it seemed like everywhere we turned there was a winery! So much so that we came up with a nickname. And if this gets around and you hear it, know that we said it first!
We think Iowa should be known as Wineowa!
But seriously, we think the wineries in Iowa are great and really think they deserve more recognition. The wineries, distilleries, and even the Iowa breweries. We’re not into beer, but we can tell you there are Iowa beer trails as well. So definitely consider a visit to this amazing state. The wineries alone will leave you speechless!
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