The first state you might think of when it comes to wine tasting, wine tours, and excellent wine probably isn’t the Midwest state of Iowa, but did you know that nearly 100 wineries exist in The Hawkeye State?
Iowa is not blessed with the easy-peasy lemon-squeezy winemaking climate of the California coast, the Loire Valley in France, or the Rioja region of Spain. The robust and dedicated winemakers of Iowa grow more than 40 different types of grapes, most of which are considered hardy varieties (or cultivars).
If you’ve never considered the Midwest as a destination for your next wine tour, you’ll love learning about this list of the most popular and best wineries in Iowa. Not only are there wine trails like the Western Iowa Wine Trail to explore, but you’ll also find Iowa wineries near Des Moines and other major cities around the state, making it easy to plan a stay in Iowa for wine tasting and exploration.
Best Wineries in Iowa
Iowa is home to more than 80 licensed wineries with more than 400 vineyards covering more than 1,200 acres. The wine industry of Iowa brings almost $30 million in tourist dollars to the state each year, and the state’s wines often place in grape competitions for cold climates.
Here quick summary of the best wineries in Iowa:
|Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery||Eastern Iowa||Couples, adventurous palettes||Live music, tours, wine, whiskey, and spirits||$$$|
|Soldier Creek Winery||Central Iowa||Road trippers, casual tasters||Walk-in sampling, private events, wine club||$$|
|Stone Cliff Winery||Eastern Iowa||City slickers, busy travelers||Tasting room, wedding receptions, draft & bottled beer||$|
|Jasper Winery in Des Moines||Central Iowa||Business travelers, car-free visitors||Tasting room, craft cider, private events||$$$|
|Tassel Ridge Winery||Southeast Iowa||Road trippers, wine enthusiasts||Tasting room, lunch, award-winning wine||$$|
|Summerset Winery||Central Iowa||Casual tasters, families||Tastings, weddings, stays||$$$|
|Wide River Winery||Eastern Iowa||Couples, wine trippers||Small plates, wine tastings, great views||$$|
|Eagles Landing Winery||Northeast Iowa||Adventurers, road trippers||Pet-friendly, wine tastings, live music||$|
|Park Farm Winery||Eastern Iowa||Families, wine trail travelers||Wide selection of wines, live music, pizza||$$|
1. Fireside Winery
Address: 1755 P Ave, Marengo, IA 52301
Best Place to Stay Nearby: This Modern Farmhouse with gorgeous views and lots of farm animals!
The Marengo branch of the Fireside Winery family is located in eastern Iowa on a farm that grew popular crops like soybeans and corn for many generations until adding a vineyard to the mix. The winery hosts regular events like tastings and live music in cozy and friendly surroundings.
The best time to visit Fireside Winery is in late spring when the weather is the most accommodating, and the winery starts offering monthly tours of its production facilities. Tours occur on the second Saturday of each month, but the winery also offers private tours for an additional fee.
The Fireside Winery makes an excellent addition to your exploration of the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway, and it’s also an excellent place to visit for a unique and fun food menu and creative wine cocktails.
You’ll definitely want to try the “Brun-uusto,” which is warm griddled cheese served with a side of marinara sauce. The winery recommends pairing the cheese dish with its Hearthstone, a light-bodied Marquette with an earthy and modestly sweet aroma.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Iowa & Places to Visit
2. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
Address: 1441 Marak Rd NW, Swisher, IA 52338
Best Place to Stay Nearby: avid Hotel Cedar Rapids South
Cedar Ridge was the first licensed distillery in Iowa following the end of Prohibition. Owned by the Quint family, the distillery produces its whiskey from “grain to glass” and grows its corn at a family farm in Winthrop, Iowa. The winery & distillery is about ten miles south of Cedar Rapids in the eastern part of the state where many Iowa wineries reside.
Since releasing its first batch of whiskey in 2010, Cedar Ridge Distillery has won multiple awards, including “Best American Craft Whiskey” in 2016 at the New York World Spirits Competition and “Distiller of the Year” in 2017 from the American Distilling Institute.
Wines at Cedar Ridge range from casual wines that are un-aged and fruit-forward to aged wines crafted from a combination of Iowa and California grape varietals. Cedar Ridge’s winery also produces its own estate wines. You can attend a tour of the property on Saturday or Sunday for $5 at 1 PM or 3 PM.
3. Soldier Creek Winery
Address: 1584 Paragon Ave, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Best Place to Stay Nearby: Brookstone Inn & Suites Fort Dodge
Like many other winemaking operations in Iowa, the Soldier Creek Winery sits on a property operated as a family farm for generations. A barn fire in 2002 led to the family’s decision to begin growing grapes on a 6.5-acre vineyard. The new vineyard is still a family-run business, and construction on the winery began in 2012.
Most of the wines produced at Soldier Creek Winery are from estate-grown grapes of French-American hybrids that grow well in Iowa’s unforgiving climate. The best time of the year to visit Soldier Creek Winery is in September when the vineyard hosts its annual Harvest Festival with live music and fun activities like grape relays.
The winery recommends that visitors return on a yearly basis for tastings since the wines change over time based on the previous year’s weather and their evolving winemaking practices. Their tasting room is open Friday through Sunday in the afternoon and early evening.
See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Iowa: Top Vacation Ideas
4. Stone Cliff Winery
Address: 600 Star Brewery Drive, Dubuque, IA 52001
Best Place to Stay Nearby: Grand Harbor Resort
The Stone Cliff Winery is located in Dubuque in Eastern Iowa and is owned by Bob and Nan Smith. The winery is unique in that it exists within a historic building (the old Dubuque Star Brewing Company) that sits on the Mississippi River rather than on a farm somewhere in rural Iowa.
The wines produced at this Dubuque winery are grown on a farm in Durango, which is about nine miles northwest of the city. Each month, the winery offers guests discounted glasses of its featured wine of the month, as well as discounts on bottles purchased while dining at the winery’s restaurant.
The proprietors of the winery weren’t always interested in making wine and initially wanted to raise their children on a farm growing Iowa staples like soybeans and corn. However, in the mid-1990s, the couple decided to try their hand at growing grapes and making wine and released their first bottle in 2001.
5. Jasper Winery
Address: 2400 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50321
Best Place to Stay Nearby: Hotel Fort Des Moines
Jasper Winery in Des Moines describes itself as an urban winery in a stylish and urban events space in Downtown Des Moines. Visitors may try samples, wine flights, and drinks by the glass during the winery’s many hours of daily operations.
The winery was founded by Jean and Paul Groben, who planted their first grapes in 2000. The avid gardeners housed their first winery in a renovated warehouse in Downtown Newton, Iowa.
The small winery soon boasted a tasting room for visitors. The winery would eventually pass onto the couple’s son, Mason, who helped build the winery’s reputation.
The winery eventually outgrew its home in Newton, and the family decided to move wine production to Downtown Des Moines with its modern event space. Visit the winery on Thursday night to enjoy live music from local and regional bands.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Des Moines, Iowa
6. Tassel Ridge Winery
Address: 1681 220th St, Leighton, IA 50143
Best Place to Stay Nearby: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Oskaloosa
Tassel Ridge Winery offers visitors a long and storied history of award-winning fruit wines dating back to 2007, when the winery began winning awards at wine competitions around the country. Located in Leighton, Iowa, the winery welcomes guests for seated wine tastings that feature five wines, fresh bread, dipping oil, and cheese boards.
The popular wine tastings are by reservation only, so it’s important to get in touch with the winery before you arrive. Tassel Ridge is located about 50 miles southeast of Des Moines, so it’s best visited as part of a wine tour or road trip of central Iowa.
One of the best times to visit the winery is when they hold their Wine & Wood Fired Pizza Night, which is by reservation only. Attendees enjoy a glass of Tassel Ridge wine and any one of several wood-fired oven pizzas. Guests end the evening with one of several delicious desserts.
7. Summerset Winery
Address: 15101 Fairfax St, Indianola, IA 50125
Best Place to Stay Nearby: The Inn at Summerset
The Summerset Winery bills itself as one of the oldest wineries in Iowa, with grapes grown first grown on the property in the 1980s. The present-day winery has operated for more than 20 years and is one of the largest-producing wineries in the entire state.
The winery boasts many tasting room hours throughout the week, with availability almost every afternoon except Mondays and Tuesdays. Private groups may select Tuesday for their special event when the tasting room is open by appointment only. Along with wine tastings, the winery also hosts cellar tours and the opportunity to indulge in an award-winning glass of wine while overlooking the winery’s vineyards.
One of the neat features of the winery is The Inn at Summerset Winery, which was once a bed and breakfast but is now offered as a whole-house rental for travelers. The home has enough room for a large family or a small wedding party, as it can sleep up to 26 guests.
See Related: Best Iowa Family Vacations to Take This Year
8. Wide River Winery
Address: 1776 E Deer Creek Rd, Clinton, IA 52732
Best Place to Stay Nearby: The Wide River Winery Inn
The Wide River Winery is another eastern Iowa winery that offers visitors beautiful views of the upper Mississippi River during wine tastings. Guests enjoy wine made in the immediate vicinity and are invited to tour the winery’s 12-acre vineyard.
The vineyard grows red and white cold weather varietals and produces around 15,000 gallons of wine every year from its vineyards and some additional growers near the Mississippi River. Vineyard tours include instructions on how the fruit is grown, the fermentation of the grapes, and the aging and bottling process.
Visitors can visit the vineyard and winery in Clinton or visit one of the tasting rooms in LeClaire or East Davenport. The winery also offers guests the opportunity to stay in The River Lodge, which is a fun option for weekenders spent touring Iowa’s wineries. Visitors to the LeClaire tasting room may stay at The Wide River Winery Inn, which is an excellent place for a simple romantic getaway.
9. Eagles Landing Winery
Address: 127 North St, Marquette, IA 52158
Best Place to Stay Nearby: Waterfront Hotel
The Eagles Landing Winery was founded in 2000 as a hobby for owners Roger & Connie Halvorson when they retired. After a few years, the couple’s son joined them to help grow the business.
Within seven years, the winery started winning winemaking competitions. In 2022, the winery was sold to a local couple named Scott and Sharon Patten.
Grapes grown at Eagle Landing’s vineyard, which is located four miles west of the winery, and at other vineyards in the region, include Edelweiss, Marquette, Marechal Foch, Petite Pearl, Brianna, and Frontenac Gris.
The winery regularly hosts live music, and visitors may arrive on Saturday afternoons for wine tastings with live musical accompaniment. The winery produces wines that run the gamut from dry wine to sweet, so every visitor can try a glass of wine in their preferred style.
It seems to be going through some sort of golden age too. In 2022, the winery won a total of 18 awards at the Iowa State Fair!
10. Park Farm Winery
Address: 15159 Thielen Rd, Epworth, IA 52045
Best Place to Stay Nearby: Hampton Inn Dubuque
Park Farm Winery is west of the Mississippi River and Dubuque and was founded in 2004. Cradled by the rolling hills and farmland of eastern Iowa, Park Farm Winery specializes in producing grapes that can withstand the harsh winters of the Midwest.
Taking advantage of the fertile soil of Iowa’s Driftless Region, the winery produces everything from red and white wine to fruit wines and dry wines. One of the unique features of the winery is that the owners added a wood-fired pizza oven to the property and started making their own pizza.
According to the owners, the property’s pizza is almost as popular as its wine at this point, and they focus on selecting toppings from other local farms in the area. They also offer several pairing recommendations.
How do I plan a wine-tasting tour in Iowa?
According to the Iowa Wine Growers Association, Iowa boasts eight wine trails across the state. Visitors may schedule tours of the wine processing facilities and vineyards and enjoy free wine tastings at many Iowa wineries.
What wine is Iowa famous for?
More than 40 different types of grapes grow in Iowa’s vineyards. Popular types include Marquette, which possesses a spice and black currant flavor, and La Crescent, which is a pale wine. The hybrid grapes grown in Iowa often produce sweeter wines than those produced in Mediterranean climates.
Can you visit wineries in Iowa all year round?
Many Iowa wineries host events all year long, even when the weather isn’t ideal for an outdoor wine tour. The wineries move their events inside so visitors may avoid the cold weather. The best months for exploring Iowa’s wineries are May and June for the sunny weather or September and October during harvest time.