At the turn of the 20th century, grape production was prolific in Iowa and was nationally associated with the county. In 1899 Iowa was so renowned for its grape production it was officially ranked 11th in the United States, climbing right up the charts to 6th position in 1919. Now, almost 100 years later, Iowa is gradually reliving those glory days and achieving national recognition as a producer of quality wines.
There’s good reason for the region to have been so prolific in its production of quality wine and that’s the Upper Mississippi River Valley which covers almost 30,000 square miles, covering Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The region is known locally as the “Driftless Area”, named so as it was left untouched by the final retreating glacier; consequently, the fertile soil here is well-drained and ideal for growing grapes.
The family run Eagles Landing Winery is situated in Fayette County, near to the Volga Lake State Park. This family business was established recently in 2000 and is quickly becoming known as a top winery. Owners Connie and Roger Halvorson have a simple philosophy when it comes to wine-making; plenty of patience! Every stage of the production process is meticulous and the attention to detail lavished on their product ensures total focus on quality; they aspire to be the best not necessarily the biggest. This strategy is certainly paying dividends as their wines have won Gold, Double Gold and ‘Best Of’ awards, achieving notoriety and recognition not just nationally but across the world too.
The winery itself is where Roger and Jay supervise and oversee the creation of their Marquette Maid brand of award-winning wines from start to finish. The grapes that go into the wines are sourced locally. Once at the winery they are prepared, crushed and fermented prior to being aged; a process which takes three years in the case of port. Once the wine is finished, it is bottled and distributed across the US to in excess of one hundred different retail outlets.
The Eagles Landing Winery has its own three acre vineyard where several popular varieties of grapes are grown; Marquette, Marachel Foch, Concord, La Crescent, Edelweiss, St. Pepin and Frontenac Gris.
Wine connoisseurs and families alike would enjoy a visit to the small, family-run winery where a warm welcome is guaranteed. Knowledgeable staff will happily show you around the winery; explain the processes involved in wine production and teach you how to match the different varieties of wines to foods. Wine tasting is the tour highlight and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase your particular favourites before you leave.
Wine tasting is free of charge and is available from 10am to 5pm daily. There are full details of the many annual events run by the winery together with information about the Iowa Wine Trail, Great River Road Wine Trail and Eastern Iowa Wine Festival on the Eagles Landing Winery website. Alternatively, just give them a call on 563-873-2509 for further information.