Garvin Height Vineyards: Beautiful bluffs, growing grape vines and flavorful wines

By Randy Gutzmann

Winona is a beautiful river town, a wonderful destination for a drive down the Mississippi River valley, and home to Garvin Heights Vineyards. The winery is located on the scenic bluffs high above the river, offering a unique view of five different valleys on Winona’s edge.

A recent visitor wrote on TripAdvisor:

“We were on a Sunday fall colors road trip. Part of our plan was to stop at a couple of the wineries along the Mississippi. The drive up to Garvin Heights Winery is beautiful. The fall vista from the back deck [was] splendid. […] Probably one of the most beautiful locations for a winery that we have visited.”

Owners Linda and Marvin Seppanen started growing grapes at Garvin Heights over 20 years ago, while living on the property and raising their family. They opened the winery in 2007. Linda is a registered nurse and nursing professor at Winona State University (as well as the president of the Minnesota Farm Winery Association!), and Marvin is an engineering consultant.


Linda Seppanen

Linda Seppanen

The winery got its start after the Seppanens ordered four varieties of grapes from a seed catalog. As they learned the trade, they also learned about the many other grape varieties suited to our colder Minnesota climate and planted a variety of cold-hardy grapes at the vineyard.

Current grape varieties grown at Garvin Heights Vineyards include Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, La Crescent, La Crosse, St. Pepin and St. Croix, and they offer an array of wines based on these cold-climate grapes.

As many Minnesotan winemakers have experienced, with cold-climate grapes comes a learning curve, and each year the cold-hardy varieties become more commonplace. In fact, any Minnesota winemakers and wine drinkers I’ve talked to say the same thing and agree with the growing quality and character of Minnesota-made wines.

Some of my favorite Garvin Heights Vineyards wines include:

  • GHV Frontenac Gris, a dry white wine with hints of peach, apricot and tropical fruit. The Frontenac Gris grapes in this wine were grown in the driftless blufflands of Minnesota.
  • GHV Frontenac, a red wine of a deep garnet color with a distinctive cherry aroma and inviting palate of blackberry, black currant and plum. Serve at room temperature. Food pairing suggestions: prime rib with mushrooms, veal parmesan or other seasoned red meats.
  • Red Raspberry Fruit Wine, a fruit wine that has been an instant favorite with a pleasant berry aroma from its 100 percent fruit base. Winner of a Silver Medal at the 2010 International Cold Climate Grape Competition.

In the past year, Garvin Heights has expanded its production and also built an event center that capitalizes on the wonderful “five-valley view.” They can host up to 100 guests in the new center, and are hosting group tastings as well. Future plans include adding brandy to their line-up, pending a federal permit for distilling liquor.

Garvin Heights Vineyards

Garvin Heights Vineyards

In the meantime, visit Linda and Marvin at Garvin Heights Vineyards and enjoy a glass of wine made from Minnesota-grown grapes while taking in the gorgeous river bluff views.

Garvin Heights Vineyards is located in Winona, Minn. For more information, visit


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