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Learn More about Our Leading Mankato Winery


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Nestled into the lush rolling hills and fertile soil of the Southern Minnesota River Valley, lies the award-winning Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. Summer mornings see over 13 acres of meticulously tended vines bathed in the warmth of the nurturing sun. Evening sunsets illuminate the gorgeous landscape and rippling creek that embrace the winery. This is a place where magic and memories are paired perfectly with a family of wines that are completely redefining the industry with their uniqueness and 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. Wanting to respect and honor this unique historical detail, we chose to name the winery after Chankaska creek.

From the inception of Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, 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, share moments with friends and family, and use our beautiful estate as the setting 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.


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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 300 accounts in 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 tastings, 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!


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Going beyond just wine, Chankaska’s latest enterprise is in the distilling of whiskey, gin and brandy. We are currently the only winery in Minnesota to hold a distilled spirits license. Being from Tennessee himself, our winemaker Mike Drash is passionate about making whiskey! To support his efforts, we imported a still all the way from Germany, whose company also provided extensive training for our staff. By offering hard spirits, we’re able to add a rebellious twist to growing list of Chankaska’s offerings!

Staying true to our mission of making our wines an “Experience,” Chankaska offers six 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! Visit our website to see a list of events that we offer each year like the popular, “Uncorked,” or “A Toast to Women.”


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Our very popular Barrel Room can accommodate a party of 50 to 75 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 200 guests. Across the bridge, in Chankaska Forest, there’s theatre-style seating for 250 guests or dining space for 200. More athletic guests can play bocce ball or croquet on Chankaska Court. And for guests seeking a private view of the Minnesota River Valley, there’s the hilltop Chankaska Field. Regardless of the event site chosen, we promise your event will be exceptional and memorable.


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Many guests chose to simply stop in for an afternoon in our Tasting Room. Here you can sit and relax with friends as your sample all of our wines and spirits as they are perfectly paired with delicious appetizers and small plates. Plus, you can ask to take a tour of the winery and see first hand how the process of vine to table works! Finish off your afternoon by shopping in our boutique retail area that offers a fun and unique assortment of wine themed gifts, apparel and gifts from local businesses.

Whether you simply stop into our Tasting Room, join our Wine Circle Select membership to enjoy our wines from home, or honor us with booking a special event on our grounds; the Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery welcomes you to our family. 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!

 

 

Our History

 

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Long 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 special attention to the creek that gracefully ripples through the present ranch, and the lush forest that embraces us, the Dakota named the creek, “Chankaska,” meaning “enclosed by forest.” 

As the beauty and abundance of the earth provided for and sustained the Dakota tribe in the past, we presently utilize the soil that is so richly seeped 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.

Chankaska Creek Ranch, LLC was formed on June 19, 2008 out of a pure and unadulterated passion for wine and the artistry of winemaking. The goal of our founders was to not only produce the finest wines possible, but also create a unique experience for our patrons at the ranch. 

Our belief was, and is, that the experience of wine extends far beyond the palate. Aromas can return us to childhood memories, a certain bouquet of flavors can forever be correlated to a special event in our lives, and wine is shared with those we love as a vehicle to bring people together over fantastic conversations and meals. In essence, wine is an experience, and we take pairing ours perfectly to the special moments of life.

The lineage of grapes at Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery was christened in 2008. As grapes take up to three years to grow before first harvest, we then turned our attention to the rest of the Ranch! In fall of 2010, construction began on our 11,000 square foot winery and tasting room with an opening date set for May 2012.

In these 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 was to make our guests feel that the winery was warm, friendly, accessible, and unlike anything else they have ever experienced. 

 


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Wanting to stay true to the historical roots of the land and estate, we chose not to 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,” as the vineyard is right outside our winemaker’s front door! 

As our dream started to solidify, we turned our focus onto creating beautiful and functional outdoor event venues for our guests. In all, 6 such sites were created to be perfectly paired to any occasion our patrons may wish to host. They also serve as sites for Chankaska sponsored events throughout the year and have allowed us to partner with amazing local businesses, non-profit philanthropic ventures, and to offer something that is truly unlike anything else in the area for our guests!

 


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Wanting to spare 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, our outside venues have become one of the most popular wedding sites in the entire state!

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 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 complimented 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 were based not only on what was the most up to date in methodology, but also 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 party to our dream and the unfolding of our story.