Take a Wine, Beer & Spirits Tour from Wayzata to Waconia
By Grant Erler
The southwest corner of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is well known for its many scenic lakes and attractions like the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and Prince's Paisley Park. But did you know this area is quickly becoming a hot spot for beer, wine and spirits connoisseurs?
Designate or hire a driver, and check out all eight establishments, located between Wayzata to the east and Waconia to the west, and get a taste of the local libations. Many of them are also accessible by bike!
Excelsior Brewing Company
Located in the historic town center, Excelsior Brewing has quickly become a local favorite. The taproom has a wonderfully friendly atmosphere and is a great place to relax with friends after a day out on the lake or strolling on Water Street. Try the full-bodied Bridge Jumper IPA.
Not far away is the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail, which runs from Hopkins to Victoria and also passes near Enki Brewing.
Waconia Brewing Company
Just two blocks from the shores of Lake Waconia in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown, you’ll find another hot spot in the southwest metro brewery scene. Waconia Brewing, the town's first brewery since 1890, offers a wide variety of taps including its flagships: Amber, Witbier, Kolsch and West Coast IPA, plus a rotating number of seasonal offerings
Back Channel Brewing Co.
Located on Lake Minnetonka, Back Channel Brewing emphasizes lagers, IPAs and imperial stouts. Their extensive outdoor area has views of and access to the lake and routinely hosts local food trucks, live music, watch parties for professional sports, trivia and the popular Artimer Market with local artisans, food vendors and more. Their rotating tap list features favorites like Sniffty New England IPA and Empress Fruited Wheat, available in flavors such as tangerine, mango and kiwi. They also serve a wide variety of local craft soda, kombucha and non-alcohol beers.
Parley Lake Winery
Located among the rolling hills near its namesake lake, Parley Lake Winery offers several varietals, including the ever-popular Frontenac Gris. The winery is right next to Carver Park Reserve, which has a number of trails through the woods and prairies for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter.
Enki's 20,000-square-foot headquarters in Victoria includes a taproom and outdoor beer garden, with ample space to produce their full range of brews, from the citrusy Tail Feather IPA to the indulgently rich Cacao Porter.
Sovereign Estates Winery
Situated on the north shore of Lake Waconia, along the popular Dakota Trail, Sovereign Estates features both indoor and outdoor tasting rooms, as well as an elegant bistro. The vineyard is on a south-sloping hill, offering beautiful views of the lake. A popular choice is the award-winning Talon Crest, a dry and fruity La Crescent white.
Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery
Schram is the state’s first combination winery and brewery, located on a 6-acre vineyard overlooking Reitz Lake, just southeast of Waconia. Enjoy a glass or bottle of wine or mead (honey wine), as well as the continuously rotating selection of beers in the tasting room. You can even try your hand at some bocce ball while you’re there.
J. Carver Distillery
The Waconia-based distillery is named after Jonathan Carver, one of the first Europeans to explore and chart the area in 1766. Just like their namesake, the folks at J. Carver Distillery are exploring uncharted territory as the first legal distillery to operate in the history of Carver County. Visitors can take a tour and sample the vodka, gin, brandy, whiskey and other liqueurs in the cocktail room.