On the Waconia winery tour, half the fun is getting there with stops in small towns and natural outlooks. And the three local wineries don’t hurt either.

Photo of The Winery at Sovereign Estate by D’Amico Catering/Flickr

By Claire Noack

Start off your winery tour by winding your way to the southwest suburb of Waconia, known for its picturesque lake and budding brewery and winery scene. The first stop on the tour is a leisurely stroll through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Admire the bright colors of fall with a walk through the arboretum’s gardens, and visit the AppleHouse to taste apple varieties unique to Minnesota.

Next, drive into downtown Victoria for a quick bite to eat (we suggest local favorite Floyd’s Bar known for its Bloody Mary’s or the School of the Wise coffee shop with full lunch menu) before heading to the first winery of the trip. Sample from a robust lineup of award-winning, locally grown red and white wines in Parley Lake Winery‘s historic barn built in 1885. Wind down the road and transport yourself to Napa Valley at The Winery at Sovereign Estate, where rolling hills of vines and views of Lake Waconia pair with cold-climate vintages and a seasonal bistro menu. Their large patio with fire pits is also the perfect place for a fall picnic.

After sipping at Sovereign’s two tasting bars, travel around the lake to downtown Waconia. Shop at local stores, participate in the art festivals and events happening nearly every weekend in September through mid October, and eat at one of the many dining establishments in town (we recommend Lola’s Lakehouse for fresh seafood dishes and stone-fired pizzas). Finish the winery tour with a night cap at Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery. Schram’s expansive property with bocce ball, food trucks, live music, and variety of wine and beers for all tastes will fill the night with pleasant memories that will last long after your 45-minute drive back to the Twin Cities.

Parley Lake Winery: open Friday-Sunday noon-6 p.m.
Sovereign Estate Winery: open Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery: open Thursday-Sunday, please check website for hours as they vary seasonally.


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