The rich soil and rolling hills of the Mississippi River Valley produces some outstanding heartland wines. The Great River Road is a route that will take you through the beauty of this country, which stretches from Minnesota to Arkansas. It’s an ideal route for wine lovers—you can visit several great wineries in a single day and fine restaurants and accommodations are plentiful. All you need to complete the trip is a taste for new discoveries, a love of wine and a little space in your trunk for the cases that are simply too good not to bring home. Harvest time is fast approaching and the vines are growing heavy along the route—some wineries will be harvesting grapes in August. It’s a beautiful time visit the vineyard. Plan your trip today!
Below is a sample of the wineries you’ll find on the Great River Road. To see more winery details—and other fun agritourism spots—go here.
Buffalo Rock Winery, Buffalo, MN
Located west of the Twin Cities, this winery opened in 2010, the dream of winemaker/owner Nicole Dietman. The winery has weekend tasting hours and a grape stomp event Sept. 24.
Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, Galena, IL
In historic Galena, tour the beautiful vineyards, taste a sample of the winery’s 40 wines and take in the impressive view from the winery’s deck.
Wide River Winery, Clinton, IA
This winery takes its name from the wide stretch of the Mississippi, located just below the winery. Its wines are as big as the river, produced with grapes grown from the heart of the Midwest.
Old Millington Vineyard and Winery, Millington, TN
This small country operation is located just 14 miles north of downtown Memphis. Its fruit wines include peach, strawberry and sweet watermelon.
This summer, experience the Great River Road one bite and one sip at a time. The Mississippi River Valley is not only a rich land that helps feed the world; it provides fresh and delicious offerings to travelers on the route. The Great River Road will lead you to straight to this bounty. Discover why some of the most delicious food on earth is grown along the Mississippi.
Here are some fresh ideas for your trip:
Pick your own
One for the mouth, one for the basket? It can be tempting to eat a few when you’re enjoying a little time on a pick-your-own farm. Grab a pail or a basket and reap the season’s rewards. The Great River Road passes dozens of berry patches and orchards.
Head to market
There’s a bounty to be found this season in the fields, parks and parking lots along the Great River Road. Local vendors offer farm-fresh fruits and vegetables as well as locally made crafts and baked goods. See where to find markets here.
Pop a cork
Generations of wine growers have capitalized on the fertile soil and steep hillsides of the Mississippi River Valley. Toast their success at one of the wineries along the Great River Road. Take in beautiful views of the vineyards, do a tour and tasting and pick up a special vintage to remember the day. Find wineries here.
The northern stretch of the route passes dairy country and there are some award-winning cheeses made right along the route. Plan ahead and bring a cooler along; you will taste some amazing cheese that might have to come home with you!
Pick an apple
Climb a ladder, or just go for the low-hanging fruit. Either way, apple, cherry and peach orchards offer plenty of delicious reasons to go picking this season. Fruit never tastes better than when it is fresh off the branch. Keep an eye out for heirloom varieties that you’ll never find in a supermarket. See a list of orchards here.
(Photo: Jason Lindsay/Illinois Office of Tourism)