Chankaska Creek Winery Blog
The Art of Cold Climate Viticulture
When most people picture a vineyard, chances are that they’re picturing California sunshine in Napa Valley or a moderate Mediterranean climate. There’s a reason most wine grapes are grown in temperate climates – but we’ve never backed down from a challenge! Cold climate viticulture is an art, and one that is rapidly growing in Minnesota. The number of wineries in Minnesota has more than doubled in the last decade, and the state now hosts the annual International Cold Climate Wine Competition, where Chankaska has won many awards.
What makes cold climate viticulture so special?
Unique Grape Varieties
Many of the popular grape varieties grown around the world simply aren’t suitable for Minnesota’s weather. As such, local wineries and agricultural experts from the University of Minnesota have worked on breeding hardier grape vines and hybrids that can survive in the Midwest while still producing delicious wine. Our success has been irrefutable – you’ll even find Minnesota-based grape strains in Alaska! This is especially impressive given how young the wine industry is in the region.
Attention to Detail – and Acidity
With new grape varieties come new challenges, however. Minnesota-grown, cold-climate grapes tend to be high in natural acidity, and our winemakers have a short window to create the right balance in taste. This is often achieved through judicious blending or the addition of a small amount of sweeteners, and results in some of the best white wine you can find.
Good, Old-Fashioned Work Ethic
The weather in Minnesota is not only cold for much of the year, but it can be unpredictable. The team at Chankaska is always on alert and watches the vineyards carefully. This is demonstrated through dedicated team members like Jamieson Lindquist, our Grounds and Vineyard Manager, who stayed up all night heat fanning the grapes after an April freeze – and saved the crop!
The wine at Chankaska is truly special, thanks to grape varieties unique to the region and the continued commitment of our expert team. Taste our hard work for yourself by stopping into our tasting room or scheduling a tour of our Minnesota vineyards. We’re proud of our winery and hope to share our story with you in person soon!
Beyond Wine: Discover the Spirits of Chankaska
While Chankaska makes an exceptional bottle of wine, our expertise doesn't end there. Inspired by the Prohibition-era speakeasy that originally occupied Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, we added a distillery in 2014. Now, in addition to our awarded wines, our visitors can partake in a variety of incredible small-batch brandy, whiskey, gin, and “Hard Hops” beer-based spirits.
Like our wines, our spirits are created through a hands-on, high quality process that begins with an authentic German Still. A double distillation process is employed with calculated aging to ensure the best possible flavor profile for each batch. Precise and perfected, our distillery’s process incorporates top ingredients and talent to produce our amazing handcrafted, small-batch spirits.
Our spirits, such as the recently bottled Ranch Road Barrel Gin, are available to try in our tasting room. Come in for a tour of our grounds, one of our live music events, or just to explore the tasting room and experience our wine and spirits:
- Unaged Apple Brandy
- Aged Apple Brandy
- Light Whiskey
- Aged Whiskey
- Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Hard Hops Nut Brown
- Hard Hops Imperial
Discover first hand why Chankaska’s wine and spirits have earned its top regional reputation – and why our customers always come back for more. Stop by our Tasting Room to sample our featured wine and spirits and learn more about the distillery and our Minnesota vineyards!
Experience the Best of Chankaska: Join Our Wine Circle!
Whether you’re enjoying our beautiful vineyard and winery or sipping our spirits at home, we at Chankaska love being part of your special moments. To provide even better experiences for our loyal customers, we invite you to become a member of our Wine Circle!
What’s the Wine Circle?
The Wine Circle is Chankaska’s members-only group. As a member, you receive a first look at new and limited edition products, have access to exclusive discounts, and can join members-only events at our Minnesota vineyards. Becoming a member is completely free! After your initial one year commitment, you may cancel at any time with no penalties.
Are there different membership levels?
There are two levels – Wine Circle Classic, and Wine Circle Select. With a Classic membership, you receive four home deliveries of your choice of wine, first access to new and limited production products, 20% off wine purchases, and invitations to member-only events. With a Select membership, you also receive additional discounts and a spot at our biannual VIP parties. Learn more about memberships here!
How do I get the most out of my membership?
In addition to enjoying wine at exclusive prices, our members use their Wine Circle status for amazing events! Be sure to text “winecircle” to 51660 to get notifications of all upcoming parties, music, community events, and more. Your membership will get you everything from complimentary tickets for select events to special seasonal promotions.
Already have and love your membership? Remember that you can buy Wine Circle Memberships as an exceptional gift for any occasion! For any remaining questions you may have, be sure to check out the full FAQ page or contact our MN winery at 507.931.0089.
From Our Grounds to Your Glass: Explore Chankaska’s Process
At Chankaska, your experience is our first priority. Whether you’re enjoying our wine and spirits in the tasting room, touring our Minnesota vineyards, or savoring a bottle at home, you’ll quickly notice the passion and attention to detail that goes into everything we touch.
Growing and Harvesting
The process of creating an exceptional glass of wine starts with the vineyard. Growing grapes in the Midwest requires special care and patience, so our winemakers carefully select the grape varieties that will produce the desired flavors in Minnesota’s cool climate. The vines are tended to by our dedicated Grounds and Vineyard Manager until they are ready for harvest. The harvest’s timing is determined by the grape’s feel, color, and taste, as well as technical lab results for comprehensive analysis. All of our grapes are handpicked at just the right time in the season and even the right time of day to ensure incredible flavor and quality.
Sorting and Preparing
Based on the wine blend being made, grapes are sorted by purity and flavor. Any debris, such as leaves, stems, and raisins, is removed by a vibrating table and additional hands-on time from our staff. Once the grapes are selected and sorted, they are prepared based on the type of wine being made.
Processing Per Type
White, rosé, and red wines are processed differently at our local winery to create the right flavors and aromas. Differences in crushing and juicing, temperature, fermentation and yeast strains, and aging times are all carefully considered when making the perfect white, red, or rosé wine. No matter the type, each wine’s development is monitored daily, with the winemakers continually working to balance and perfect each batch.
White, red, or rosé, every wine that comes from our vineyard is carefully tended to from vine to table. This absolutely commitment to quality from the very beginning, along with our team’s experience and expertise, is why our customers keep coming back – and why we are one of the most awarded wineries in Minnesota.
If you’re interested in knowing more about our process and products, come by for one of our guided vineyard tours! You can walk through the grounds, talk to our winemakers, and learn how each wine was made. Private tastings with a wine educator are also available through our barrel room experience. No matter how you experience Chankaska, we know it will be excellent – we’ve worked hard to ensure exceptional quality from our grounds to your glass.
Your Day at Chankaska
No two visits to Chankaska are the same. From our inception, our founders believed that our winery should be about your experience first and foremost – and that goes far beyond an exceptional selection of wine and spirits. You’re encouraged to engage with our team by visiting the winery, meeting our team, and exploring all the opportunities we have to offer. From weddings and corporate events to picnics and live entertainment, you can make your visit to Chankaska exactly what you want.
Our stunning winery features rolling hills, the titular creek, and of course, our perfectly picturesque vineyard. With such a beautiful setting, it’s no surprise that many couples choose Chankaska as their wedding venue. Let us accommodate your ceremony, reception, showers, or other celebrations. Working with our experienced team gives you far more than just one of our many wedding venues on the winery. Learn more about our wedding services and event spaces here.
Planning another special event? Try Chankaska for corporate events, birthday parties, weekend conferences, or other group get-togethers. Choose from intimate settings like our barrel room to spacious outdoor sites. Rely on our expertise to make your next event memorable and easy to plan.
You don’t need a reason to visit our winery, though. Whether you’re planning a date night, catching up with friends, or just looking for a relaxing afternoon outing, Chankaska can deliver. One of the top vineyards in Minnesota, you can come here to:
- Take guided vineyard tours and see the production floor
- Visit the wine tasting room or arrange a private barrel room experience
- Breathe in the view from the tasting deck or enjoy great food by the patio’s firepit
- Sip a glass of wine while walking through our sculpture garden
- Play bocce ball or croquet on Chankaska Court
- Shop a unique selection of products from local businesses in our boutique
- Gain access to even more events with a Wine Circle membership
Think you’ve tried it all? With frequent live entertainment events, including a regular rotation of local and nationally known music groups, there’s always something new to enjoy. Check out our favorite food trucks, listen to some jazz, participate in a trail run, or attend a cultural event – there are new things to do being scheduled all the time at Chankaska!