Learn More about Our Leading Mankato Winery
In lush rolling hills and fertile soil of the Southern Minnesota River Valley, lies the award-winning Chankaska Creek Ranch, Winery, and Distillery. On a summer morning, you can see over 13 acres of meticulously tended vines bathed in the warmth of the nurturing sun. Sunsets illuminate the gorgeous landscape and creek that embraces the winery. This place is where magic and memories pair perfectly with a family of wines that are completely redefining the industry with their unique craftsmanship.
Why the name “Chankaska?”
The history of the Mankato area is steeped in the culture and heritage of the Dakota Indian Tribes who were once prevalent in this area. “Chankaska,” in Dakota, means “forest enclosed,” and is the namesake for the creek that gently rolls throughout our property. To respect and honor this unique historical detail, we chose to name the winery after Chankaska creek.
Experience a Sip Above the Rest.
At the inception of Chankaska Creek Ranch, Winery, and Distillery, we were firm on our resolve to create a winery that not only generated world-class wines, but also a place where our guests could come to enjoy them. We share moments with friends and family, and use our beautiful estate as the setting of their story for some of the most intimate and memorable events of their lives. In essence, we wanted our wine to be an Experience, not just a product.
The vision of our winery stems from the dreams and ambitions of our majority owners, Kent and Jane Schwickert. After traveling to over 100 wineries throughout the United States and Europe, Kent began to build and shape their concept for the ideal winery. As a couple, they bring a diverse background of experience and entrepreneurship in successful businesses that made them prepared for the challenge of a winery operation.
Why Choose Chankaska?
Established in 2008, on 25 acres just outside of Kasota, MN, Chankaska has quickly grown to be the second-largest winery in Minnesota. Named “Best Winery” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, we are also one of the most popular event sites for weddings in the entire Midwest. Since our first year of distribution, we have won a myriad of awards for our wines. We are currently distributed throughout Minnesota.
Producing wonderful variations of reds, whites, roses, and spirits, Chankaska’s vision of elevating the brand throughout the nation is quickly coming to fruition. An integral part of this exposure is our very popular, Wine Circle membership. We consider this one of the best ways to experience our wines for true wine lovers!
Our Wine Circle membership is comprised of over 1,500 wine lovers. These wine aficionados pay no membership fee but commit to accepting four shipments of wine a year for at least one year. These shipments are sent directly to their homes, or pick up at the winery is available, at which time we also have fun events to celebrate the new selections. In addition, Wine Circle members also receive complimentary wine, event passes, discounts on additional wines, and other perks. Members work directly with our Chankaska Wine Circle Concierge to optimize their experience. This is the perfect way to take part in everything Chankaska has to offer!
Going beyond just wine, Chankaska’s latest enterprise is in the distilling of whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, bourbon, and brandy. We imported a still from Germany, the company we purchased from provided extensive training for our staff. By offering hard spirits, we’re able to add a rebellious twist to the growing list of Chankaska’s offerings! Undeterred by the dry days of Prohibition and the Minnesota-bred Volstead Act, the original establishment that occupied our Ranch would not give in to those who feared that partaking in fine spirits fueled social ills and a lack of public morals. Instead, it became a speakeasy for the locals serving up liquor and games of chance. Today, that tradition of offering small-batch hooch continues at Chankaska Creek Ranch for the thirsty and adventurous.
Staying true to our mission of making our wines an “Experience,” Chankaska offers over seven venues for large groups and events. By far, weddings are our most popular and cherished events. We also cater to receptions, birthday parties, showers, corporate functions, and almost anything else a host can think of! Click here to see a list of events that we offer each year like the popular, “Uncorked,” or “A Toast to Women.”
Our very popular Barrel Room can accommodate a party of 50 seated to 75 cocktails/standing people; while up to 100 guests can gather on the Tasting Patio. On the right bank of the creek, the aptly named Creekside features a 40×80 tent with cathedral windows, flooring, and an additional lawn. It offers seating for about 250 guests. Across the bridge, in Chankaska Forest, there’s theatre-style seating for up to 350 - 250 guests or dining space for 200. Years ago, we offered more athletic guests to play bocce ball or croquet on Chankaska Court, but this is no longer offered. As for our guests seeking a private view of the Minnesota River Valley, there was the hilltop Chankaska Field, which is now private property. Regardless of the event site chosen, we promise your event will be exceptional and memorable.
What to do when you arrive.
Stop in for an afternoon in our Tasting Room. Here, you may sit and relax with friends as you sample our wines and spirits as they perfectly pair with delicious appetizers and small plates. Take a tour of the winery and see first-hand how vine to table works! Finish your afternoon and shop in our boutique retail area that offers a fun and unique assortment of wine-themed gifts, apparel, and gifts from local businesses.
Drop into our Tasting Room, join our Wine Circle Select membership to enjoy our wines from home, or book a special event on our grounds; the Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery welcomes you to our family, and we will help you with your story whatever that includes! Thank you for supporting our dream and mission to make Chankaska Wines some of the most notable in the country.
Cheers to a perfect pairing of life, love, and a great glass of wine!
Chankaska Creek Ranch, LLC was formed on June 19, 2008, out of a pure passion for wine and the artistry of winemaking. Our founders' goal was to produce the finest wines possible, but create a unique experience for our patrons at the ranch.
We believe the experience of wine extends far beyond the palate. Aromas can return us to childhood memories, a bouquet of flavors can remind us of a special event from the past, and wine shared with those we love brings people together over conversation and meals. In essence, wine is an experience, and we take pairing ours perfectly to the special moments of life. So enjoy a sip above the rest at Chankaska.
Before our winery was even conceptualized, the Dakota Indian tribe roamed, hunted, and rooted their culture in the rich and fertile lands of what we now know as the Southern Minnesota River Valley. Giving attention to the creek that ripples through the present ranch property, and the lush forest that embraces us, the Dakota named the creek, “Chankaska,” meaning “enclosed by forest.”
The beauty and abundance of the earth provided for and sustained the Dakota tribe in the past, we use the soil that is so richly steeped in history, to foster truly unique grapes for our wines. We are honored to have such a special parcel of land to build our dream upon and remain respectful to its heritage and story.
The lineage of grapes at Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery was christened in 2008. As grapes take up to three years to grow before the first harvest, we then turned our attention to the rest of the Ranch!
In the fall of 2010, construction began on our 11,000 square foot winery and tasting room with an opening date set for May 2012. In the buildings, we strove to create an atmosphere of rustic warmth, with a sophisticated edge. We selected repurposed and aged woods offset by various metals and ironwork. Our goal is to make our guests feel that the winery was warm, friendly, accessible, and unlike anything, they have ever experienced.
We stay true to our historical roots of the land and estate. So, we did not tear down the original farmhouse near the winery. Instead, to celebrate this unique structure built in 1864 and homesteaded as Chankaska Creek Ranch, we restored it and turned it into our winemaker’s on-site residence. This brings a whole new caliber of proximity to ‘babysitting the grapes,” because the vineyard was right outside our winemaker’s front door! Later this building was converted to office spaces, as well as a bridal changing area.
EVENTS & GROUNDS
As our dream started to solidify, we turned our focus onto creating beautiful and functional outdoor event venues for our guests. In all, over seven such sites were created to perfectly pair with any occasion our patrons may wish to host. They also serve as sites for Chankaska sponsored events throughout the year and allow us to partner with amazing local businesses, non-profit philanthropic ventures, and offer something that is truly unlike anything else in the area for our guests!
Sparing no expense, our event sites are meticulously landscaped and maintained. Our floral and fauna architecture was carefully chosen to be colorful and balanced, but not overstated to pull away from the focus of an event, or a bride! Since their creation, the outside venues have become one of the most popular wedding venues in the entire state!
ART OF LIFE
Chankaska was so proud to be chosen, in 2015, to participate in the interactive sculpture tour. Several beautiful works of art and sculpture are stationed at various points on our property. Guests can stop at each one and use their smartphone to learn more about each artist and even inquire about purchasing!
We agreed from the inception of our winery that giving back to the local community would be a pivotal piece of our business practice. To be able to do this through art that is complemented by our estate is the perfect pairing! It has since become a highlight for many of our guests when they visit us.
In December of 2010, we hired our first winemaker to craft Chankaska’s inaugural wines. With his experience and expertise, we outfitted the new winery with the most advanced equipment for harvesting, manufacturing, and aging both wine and spirits. Our choices are based not only on what was the most up to date in methodology but also on what would keep the integrity and authenticity of the practice alive.
Thank you for choosing our wines to commemorate the events and special moments of your life. By your patronage, you become a part of our dream and the unfolding of our story.