Round Lake Vineyards and Winery: A Southwestern Minnesota Oasis

By Randy Gutzmann

I set out for Round Lake Vineyards and Winery on a cloudy, rainy day this summer. The trip took me into beautiful southwestern Minnesota, south of Worthington close to the Iowa border. After traveling on U.S. Highway 90, passing power poles, corn and soybeans, the winery is just five miles south of the interstate at the end of a tree-lined driveway with grape vines on one side and the winery on the other. It is a gorgeous setting, like an oasis in the middle of the patchwork of traditional southern Minnesota agricultural land, and the lake itself creates a beautiful backdrop.

Owners Scott and Jenny Ellenbecker established the winery in 2007 when they planted its first four acres. Today, they have 30 acres that offer 13 estate-grown varieties of grapes. They are very hands-on with the control of their grapes from winter pruning through fall harvest, giving them the opportunity to nurture exceptional fruit and produce-quality wines.

Jenny and Scott Ellenbecker

Round Lake Vineyards and Winery owners Jenny and Scott Ellenbecker

The tasting room is very comfortable, with a fireplace that is great for winter time tastings. Upstairs, above the tasting room, is home to the couple’s business, Ellenbecker Communications. We sat out on the nicely landscaped patio that surrounds the tasting room on what ended up being a sunny day despite the rain on my journey to the winery.

Round Lake Event Center

Round Lake Vineyards & Winery Event Center

Jenny also gave me a tour of the new 1,500-square-foot wine cellar and the 3,500-square-foot event center, catering kitchen and restrooms. There were preparations going on for a wedding as we walked through.

Round Lake Wines

Courtesy of Round Lake Vineyards & Winery

You definitely do not want to miss out on any of their wines. A few that I recommend are:

  • Reserve Marquette: A dry red wine with a spicy upfront bouquet offering notes of black currant, cherry and white pepper. The beautiful garnet color is unique to Marquette. Exclusively sold in the tasting room.
  • La Crescent: A semi-sweet white wine that balances its floral aromatic nose with a refreshing citrus finish. This wine pairs well with light cheese and fruit, or with a light meal of fish or chicken salad.
  • Frontenac Gris: A sweet white wine with citrus notes of mango and grapefruit that balance nicely for a crisp and sweet flavor. Goes great with spicy Latin or Asian food, as it rounds out the burn.

Round Lake received fun recognition earlier this year from the Star Tribune when they were selected “Best new(ish) Minnesota winery” for the Best of MN 2016 contest. As the Star Tribune puts it:

“Minnesota wineries continue to improve, thanks to some combination of grapes from the West Coast, cold-hardy varieties planted here, and perhaps some fruit wines. Tucked into the southwest corner of the state, Round Lake has taken giant leaps in all three realms since hiring Washington transplant Sam Jennings in 2014. Even the wines from that year’s cruel vintage (remember the polar vortex?) are fresh and flavorful, and Jennings has a deft hand with Marquette and La Crescent grapes from the University of Minnesota. […] Some of the wines are available at retailers in the metropolitan area, but hey, an excursion to Nobles County is not the worst idea for the fall.”

I agree with the writer; a trip out to Nobles County to visit Round Lake Vineyards and Winery is a great end-of-summer travel plan, complete with some perfect Minnesota wines to top it off!

Round Lake Vineyards and Winery

Round Lake Vineyards and Winery

Round Lake Vineyards and Winery is located in Round Lake, Minn. For more information, visit www.roundlakevineyards.com or find them on Facebook by searching “Round Lake Vineyards.”

 

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