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A day trip from the Twin Cities, taking in wineries, brewery and orchard

BMTN food writer Lindsay Guentzel has planned a day of fall fun in the western Twin Cities to get out and enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.
The Winery at Sovereign Estate in Waconia. 

The Winery at Sovereign Estate in Waconia. 

This weekend’s beautiful weather means you’ll likely be looking for fun, unique ways to enjoy the weather. The good news? I’ve done some of the work for you already. 

A few weeks back, my two best friends and I embarked on our annual fall festivities day. We pick a bunch of wineries, breweries and orchards to check out and spend the day gallivanting between them (responsibly, of course). 

This year, we spent our time perusing the western side of the Twin Cities. Check out our itinerary below.

First Stop: Crow River Winery, just east of Hutchinson

Crow River Winery near Hutchinson.

Crow River Winery near Hutchinson.

Reservations are required at Crow River Winery and as of right now, they are only allowing parties of four to sit together at one time. Visiting with more than four people? Make two separate reservations, sit at two separate tables and you’ll still enjoy yourself.

This was my first time at Crow River and I was pleasantly surprised. The space is huge which is great for social distancing. They are a ton of very clean bathrooms to use as well. We sat at a nice table in the courtyard and drank our wine flights while listening to a band, then shopped at the small farmer’s market they had set up on the grounds.

Bringing along the kids? Crow River has a great corn maze area set up with tons of cool old tractors. We were even enamored by them.

Wine suggestion? I put together a flight of five different wines – but I really loved the Blackberry Wine and the Marquette Dessert (I purchased a bottle of the Marquette Dessert to enjoy at a later date).

Second Stop: LuceLine Apple Orchard, southwest of Watertown

A goat at LuceLine Apple Orchard near Watertown.

A goat at LuceLine Apple Orchard near Watertown.

I love LuceLine. This was my third trip there. It provides all of the fun fall activities I want to enjoy in a picturesque environment. Reservations for small groups aren’t required but LuceLine asks that you wear a mask indoors and follow the governor’s mandates when it comes to social distancing. On this big farm, that’s not a problem at all.

Here’s my suggestion. Once you get to LuceLine, get right in line at the Dog House Pub and order a Sweet Tango Sangria. Maybe order two (one of both hands). Then head over to the corn maze and get lost in the sunshine (it costs $5, bring cash).

LuceLine has a ton of free activities to keep your kids busy – animals, tractors, a nature walk. And if you missed the Minnesota State Fair and all the fried goodness that comes with it, they have you covered with all of your favorites (some even on a stick).

The one con I noted is that LuceLine only offers porta-potties but there were plenty of them, they were incredibly clean and well managed and porta-potties on a farm are to be expected (better than an outhouse).

Third Stop: The Winery at Sovereign Estate, on the north side of Lake Waconia

We had a hard 3:30 p.m. reservation slot at Sovereign Estate – it is the only reservation we paid for so we wanted to make sure we made it on time. At the time of this writing, reservations cost $2 per person and were limited to four people or six for a family (standard rules set by the state, but the guidance was updated on Thursday, so this policy may change).

The Winery at Sovereign Estate is by far the fanciest place we stopped on our adventure. They have a giant ballroom-style tent set up on the property with chandeliers and beautiful furniture – I would describe it as East Coast chic. But don’t let the decor stop you from coming. We – along with most everyone else – were dressed very casually.

We each grabbed a glass of wine and ordered food before settling into a very secluded table on the main patio. Then we strolled around the grounds, walking down toward the lake through the grape fields. It truly is a beautiful spot.

Fourth Stop: Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery, southeast of Waconia

Schram Vineyards and Winery near Waconia.

Schram Vineyards and Winery near Waconia.

Schram Vineyards is my favorite Minnesota winery to visit because the atmosphere is stunning yet simple and relaxed. Tucked into the hillside of a farm overlooking a small lake, it somehow makes you forget you’re just miles from home.

Currently, they are not taking reservations; walk-ups only, where you register at the door with staff (however, they are taking reservations for their tasting tours). Despite the parking lot being full, we walked right in and were able to grab a great table under the shade of some trees.

After having a great experience with my flight of wine at Crow River, I was excited to try another spread of wines at Shram. The downside? The flight is pre-selected and I only loved one of the four wines – the Blossom, their signature white blend with melon, apricot and floral flavors. It was a hit at our table and I’ll simply order a glass of that on my next trip.

Fifth Stop: Wayzata Brew Works in downtown Wayzata

This wasn’t a planned stop. We were early for our reservation at 6Smith down the hall and decided to pop in for a beer while we waited (reservations are only required for large parties).

Wayzata Brew Works, in the Boat Works building off Lake Street in Wayzata, has a small patio on the backside of the building where they have a stage set up over the water for live music. It had just started to rain when we arrived, so the band was moved inside for their set. But I’ve been there when the live music is going outside and it is a really fun atmosphere – perfect for this weekend’s weather.

Not as much time? Pick 1 or 2 stops

Overwhelmed by our day? Pick one or two places and settle in a little more than we did. We specifically planned an all-day affair. But this weekend’s weather needs to be enjoyed. So get your housework done early, grab a mask and head out on an adventure to support some great locally owned businesses in the area.

Like Lindsay’s work? Check out her recipes, blogs and videos here on Bring Me The News or on her website, or follow her on social media – @Lindsay Guentzel on Twitter and Facebook. 

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