northern vineyards plus wedge & wheel
Incidentally, this post isn’t about beer, rather it is about the desire to get the taste of bad beer out of my mouth, which incidentally led to a brilliant winery visit.
As I slipped in, there were quite a few people at the bar on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Some patrons were clearly invested in the product, taking brief notes and asking questions while deciding what to purchase. Others were clearly out to enjoy Main Street but happily wandered in.
The four whites, four reds, and two blush wines highlighted were part of the flight, and I did not leave a single drop in any glass. Each of the white wines stood alone and unique, and though I favor the dry, I enjoyed the Prairie Star and Prairie Smoke equally.
Both blush wines were winners, but the Lady Slipper pulled slightly ahead due to its bright but subtle berry notes. The finish is also exquisite, inviting sip after sip.
Relying heavily on grape varietals such as Frontenac produced by the U of M and other regional innovators, the wine at Northern Vineyards is distinctly local. As someone who has had very few positive experiences with Minnesota wine (too sweet, to fruity, and too weird) I was blown away and even had trouble deciding what to bring home.
Finally, in the red department, the Downtown Red was the most enjoyable for my palate. I immediately picked up on the tart cherry and cranberry notes that my server indicated, and the dry to semi-dry finish only underscore the puckering berry notes.
My next trip to Stillwater was a few weeks later when the whether had viciously turned to cold and bleak. The biting wind coming off the river led me inside to the Wedge & Wheel cheese shop, a perfect vantage point to watch cars exiting the lift bridge while drinking a dark beer.
Wedge & Wheel is only approaching its first birthday, but feels like a tastefully updated classic. I was initially drawn to paying a visit since I had seen a line out the door on more than one occasion.
Flights of three high-quality wedges go for $12 and include a modest accoutrement plate and baguette.
Wedge & Wheel has more than just fromage and charcuterie, they serve sandwiches to eager neighbors based on a seasonally changing chalkboard menu. Logical beer and cider selection is a huge bonus for this place, as wine could easily overshadow other offerings.
While you’re in bordersville, Nothern Vineyards and Wedge & Wheel are certainly must-try’s. Also check out Oliphant, a fantastic brewery in Somersert and Casanova restaurant and bottle shop in Hudson (where they fill any growler).