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The New Napa Valley

February 12, 2021

Map showing the locations of the wineries in this article

All of the wineries mentioned below are featured on this map showcasing the great wine that can be found across Iowa.

Iowa’s reputation as a haven for wine lovers is quickly picking up steam as the state’s award-winning wineries are making a name for themselves.

Travel Iowa teamed up with Midwestern social media mavens to showcase four of Iowa’s most unique and celebrated wineries. They shared their takes on each wineries’ distinct histories, expertise, and of course, taste of wine.

Thirsty for more? Sign up for the Iowa Wine Passport, which helps you earn prizes for visiting the state’s wineries.

Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, Swisher: Jasmine Maria, Jasmine Beauty

Jasmine Maria

“Cedar Ridge is a family-owned winery, distillery, and event space nestled in the beautiful Swisher countryside. The grapes they use are Iowa-grown! From their unending bushels of corn straight from the fertile midwestern soil, the Quint family puts only the best into their wines and spirits. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery was named the Best Winery in Iowa by Taste of Home in 2018!

Nine Sixty-Five – This wine has a blend of 5 different grapes such as Petite Pearl, Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Marquette & Merlot grapes. It’s aged for 11 months in new and used American, French, and Hungarian Oak barrels to give the wine depth and complexity. It definitely has bright notes of black cherry, plum and violet which makes it a medium-bodied wine. Let me tell you this wine was delicious. I loved the taste and it didn’t leave my mouth feeling so dry like some red wines do!”

Park Farm Winery, Durango: Andrea Larson, Life Love Larson

“Park Farm Winery was established in 2004 and is located atop rolling hills west of Dubuque. The winery is surrounded by vineyards, pastures and woodlands, which will make you feel like you’ve left Iowa for an old-world getaway! Grab a glass of wine and a wood-fired pizza (there’s an onsite pizza eatery), relax, and take in the beauty of Iowa!

During the virtual tour, we tasted the Arrowhead Reserve 2019. The name comes from an arrowhead that was found on the Marquette Vineyard dated 10,000 to 12,000 years old! It is a dry red blend made from Marquette Grapes with mild acidity. The owner of the winery suggested opening the bottle and letting it sit for 10 minutes before enjoying. It has hints of cherry and black pepper and pairs well with steak, burgers and dark chocolate! Steak, wine, and chocolate — yes please!"

Andrea Larson sitting at a table with four wines to taste

Red Barn Wines, Story City: Gabrielle Loomis, Color Me Sassy

Gabriele Loomis pours a glass of wine in her dining room

“Red Barn Wines began with a dream of producing high-quality cold climate grapes coupled with creative winemaking skills to create fine Iowa wines. Red Barn owners have long appreciated good wines and have visited the best wine-producing areas of the world. Through their travels, they became convinced that with the appropriate land, good cold-climate adapted grapes and excellent winemaking skills, producing fine wines in Central Iowa could be a reality.

The grapes used in Red Barn’s wines are grown on six acres with a number of the best cold-climate grape varieties. Grapes are harvested to produce their estate-grown wines, and the owners are continually experimenting with grape production and winemaking techniques to enhance the quality of their wines.

We all had the chance to taste the Red Barn Wines – 2017 Marquette. This wine is a rich, dry, dark ruby color wine, pleasantly medium-bodied and blessed with good tannins and balance. This Marquette has a complex structure with notes of black currant, tart cherry, berries, black pepper and spice in the finish. It was interesting to hear that Red Barn Wines lets the grapes fully mature on the vine to lower acidity and bring out the best in this wine, which is mildly oaked with French oak. The 2017 Marquette won silver medals in Indy and Mid-America Competitions, significant accomplishments for Red Barn!”

Covered Bridges Winery, Winterset: Sara Ayesh, White Kitchen, Red Wine

“Last, but certainly not least of the Iowa wineries, is Covered Bridges Winery. We tasted their best in show Rattlesnake Red.

Kevin Fido started the winery with his wife and another couple. He presented their Rattlesnake Red to us and you can tell how involved he must have been in the whole process.

They are very proud of the fact that they grow and only use 100% Iowa grown grapes in their wines.

Nestled in the hills of rural Madison County, this family-owned winery takes pride in its name from the history of the local bridges.

This one was sweet on the tip of the tongue, and not too dry on the finish. If you enjoy sweet red you would enjoy the Rattlesnake Red.

Something that would be delicious with this wine would be my Teriyaki Pork Sliders with a cool cabbage slaw.”

Sara Ayesh sips wine while delivering a virtual tasting event
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