Sip Your Way from Wayzata to Waconia

By Grant Erler

Minne Beer Wine Spirits TourThe 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?

Check out all eight establishments, located between Wayzata to the east and Waconia to the west, and get a taste of the local libations.  

Wayzata Brew Works

The area's newest brewery sits on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in the historic Boatworks Building. A patio and large picture windows offer unobstructed views of the lake, and live music and other special events accompany the house-made brews.

Excelsior Brewing Company

Located in the historic town center, Excelsior Brewing Company 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.

Enki Brewing

Emki Brewing taproomEnki's new 20,000-square-foot headquarters in Victoria includes a taproom and outdoor beer garden, and allows the popular brewery to increase its production tenfold. Enki has a full range of brews, from the citrusy Tail Feather IPA to the indulgently rich Cacao Porter.

Waconia Brewing Company

Just two blocks from the shores of Lake Waconia in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown, you’ll find the latest addition to the southwest metro’s brewery scene. Waconia’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.

Parley Lake Winery

Located among the rolling hills near Parley Lake, this winery offers a variety of wines including the ever-popular Frontenac Gris. The winery is right next to the 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.

Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery

Schram is the state’s first combination winery and brewery, located on a six-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

Sovereign Estates Winery

Sovereign Estate 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.

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.

Find more wineries, breweries and distilleries across the state in the Drink & Eat section.