The wine lover’s perfect late fall evening? A seat by the fire in sweater weather with a glass of red wine in hand, the lyrics to an old song lingering in the background while in the company of good friends. Just the sound of it makes us want to plan our next evening of wine tastings – and you can do just that, right in Eastern Iowa. The Iowa City area has access to impressive wineries within 30 miles, which offer music, events and of course, some of the best wine the state has to offer. Here’s a short tour of them:
Fireside opened in 2007 by the Wyant family as a way to pass on a farm heritage to the next generation. The family has been a steward of their soil for five generations and their wines are a result of a genuine passion for and care of their vineyard. You can find Fireside's specialty, white and red varieties in a large number of local grocery stores, but nothing beats visiting the place where each bottle is made.
Cedar Ridge boasts award-winning wines and is the only winery/distillery in Iowa. Its spirits are produced on site in small batches in its European-engineered pot still. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery has received the most awards for five years running at the DMACC Mid-American Wine Competition, just one of many where it has excelled. Since first opening in the back of Cedar Rapids’ Benz Beverage Depot in 2005, Cedar Ridge has expanded and made history – its Malted Rye Whiskey is one of only few ever produced and winner of Gold medals at both the Los Angeles and Denver International Spirits Competitions.
The owners and staff don’t let all of this success go to their heads – they are the kind of Iowa folks who still have a great pride of their craft and want you to be part of it. Cedar Ridge wine is sold in California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York and New Jersey – but it is best enjoyed in Swisher, Iowa.
Brick Arch is an elegant wine tasting space on Main Street in West Branch, home of former President Herbert Hoover. You can enjoy a glass of wine on one of three levels around the fireplace, or outside on the deck facing Hoover Park. (And while you’re in town, be sure to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum & Library.) Brich Arch Winery brought home three medals from the 2015 International Tasters Guild Contest in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Owners John and Ilene, both native to Iowa with ties to the University of Iowa, first started in the business in 2005. Brich Arch offers live music year round on Sunday afternoons along with other special events throughout the year.
In between your stops, explore the Iowa City/Coralville area – pick up some wine among the extensive selection at John’s Grocery or sip on your favorite at one of the area’s best restaurants. We’ll be glad to see you.