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On the wine trail

In November, taste the fruits of the harvest on winery road trips.

Wine tasting at a vineyard.

© Torsten Muller

As fall winds down on forest trails, the season is just gearing up on wine trails, where groups of wineries invite folks to take a little drive, sample the wares and maybe take home a few bottles.

Since wineries tend to be in very scenic areas, thatís not such a bad idea. And in November, many offer special events to put buyers in the holiday spirit.

Here are wine trails in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan that have planned events in 2018.

Mississippi River Valley

Great River Road Wine Trail: Most of the members of this Mississippi River Valley group are between Red Wing and Winona, but they stretch from Prescott at the mouth of the St. Croix to Marquette in northeast Iowa.

For the Holiday Harvest Wine & Food Festival Nov. 10-11, an advance ticket for $30, $15 for Sunday only, buys a wine glass, bottle tote and wine and food tastings at all 11 wineries.

Iowa Wine Trail: Ten wineries are part of this group in the Mississippi River Valley between Decorah and Clinton. 

They're hosting Hollywood and Vines Nov. 3-4 with food and sampling at all 10 wineries. Tickets are $35, $40 after Oct. 31. 


Northern Illinois Wine Trail. This trail includes more than 30 wineries on three loops in the Chicago suburbs, the Fox Valley and Starved Rock area and the Galena area.

In Galena, Nouveau Wine Weekend is Nov. 16-17 and includes a Friday parade, tastings, music and vineyard tours.

A tasting tour of Wollersheim Winery.

© Beth Gauper

A tour guide pours samples at Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin.


Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail: There are 25 wineries along the spine of this peninsula north of Traverse City, Mich., wrapped by the warm waters of Lake Michigan. 

During Toast the Season Nov. 3-4 and 10-11, a $50 ticket buys wine and food at 25 wineries plus glass and six-bottle wine bag. It sells out, so buy tickets early.

Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail: Nine wineries line this sliver that stretches into Grand Traverse Bay north of Traverse City, Mich.

It's pairing its wines with comfort food for the Great Macaroni & Cheese Bake-Off and Gourmet Comfort Food Competition Nov. 24, $50. It sells out, so buy tickets early.

Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail: Seven wineries occupy the hills between Ann Arbor, Lansing and Battle Creek.


Western Iowa Wine Trail: Six wineries are in the Loess Hills around Council Bluffs.

Their Holiday Poker Run is Nov. 3-4, with prizes and wines paired with holiday appetizers at each winery, $20 through Oct. 28, then $30.


Wisconsin River Valley: This isn't an official trail, but it's easy to go from one vineyard to another in the Wisconsin River Valley, from Spurgeon and Weggy near Muscoda to Botham near Barneveld and Wollersheim in Prairie du Sac.

Wollersheim Winery holds its free Ruby Noveau Tasting Nov. 15. A Vintage Christmas is Nov. 24, with festive foods and carolers.

For more about Wollersheim, see A vintage vineyard.

More wine trails

Many other wineries welcome visitors in fall as well as year-round.

For more, see Following a wine trail.

Last updated on October 29, 2018