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Iowa Wine: A Pleasant Surprise

Updated on January 16, 2011

Eastern Iowa Wine: Iowa Is Home of Great Undiscovered Wines


Iowa wine is one of the great undiscovered pleasures of America's Heartland. While this might come as a surprise to many people, the state of Iowa in the Midwest actually has a very impressive wine culture. Iowa Vineyards have been producing fine examples of Iowa white wine, Iowa red wine, and Iowa blush wine for years. They may not be threatening Australia or France any time soon, but for a small state in the Midwest, Iowa has an excellent wine culture that continues to grow in both size and recognition. Once assailed for only having very sweet "low quality" dessert wines, a lot has changed in the Iowa wine scene, and if you're a wine fan, this Midwest state deserves a closer look.

More on Iowa Wine

Although better known for corn and hogs, prior to the Depression years Iowa actually had a reputation for producing some very solid wine. Agricultural conditions, and later an over-aggressive pesticide, killed an estimated 80-90% of the vines in the state. However wine is making a comeback, and while there are definitely challenges to growing good grapes in the state of Iowa, there are currently over 25 types of grapes being grown at 60+ wineries.

In fact, Iowa is combining wine with tourism by encouraging the Iowa Wine Trail. This includes tours of many of the fields and wineries in towns like Anamosa, Bankston, Baldwin, Decorah, Lisbon, Marquette, and West Bank, among others. The countryside in this part of the state is beautiful with rolling hills, forests, and if you visit during the summer and have never seen a field absolutely blazing with fireflies, then you're in for a treat. Familiar with famous artist Grant Wood? Iowa was his home state and the basis of many of his paintings.

Many of the wineries in Iowa wine country can be visited almost daily, and it's pretty common to see special events sponsored either by individual wineries, or even by a group of them working together. Visitors can view local operations, enjoy the scenic grounds, and sample award winning wines & sparkling ciders that are putting the Iowa wine scene back on the map...or being kept secret by very happy locals.

While enjoying the wine, you can also enjoy the famous Midwest hospitality and the region's scenic byways, rolling wooded hills full of wild flowers, and cold water streams crammed with trout. This is also a part of the state where you can find a bed and breakfast near almost any town. Once a year there is also the Eastern Iowa Wine Festival, which is always worth catching.

Iowa wine is definitely worth a look, and the enjoyable scenery and local hospitality make visiting the Iowa wine country a winning trek.

Wine Pictures

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Red wine picture courtesy of Wikipedia CommonsPurple wine grape photo courtesy of sxc.huWine grape photo courtesy of
Red wine picture courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Red wine picture courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Purple wine grape photo courtesy of
Purple wine grape photo courtesy of
Wine grape photo courtesy of
Wine grape photo courtesy of

Tassel Ridge Iowa Winery

Grape Stomping in Indianola, Iowa

Wine Glass Music

Cedar Ridge Winery: One of the Best Iowa Vineyards


If you're looking for a good winery in Iowa, there are many great choices. Iowa has over 50 wineries in state, with more growing every few years. Many outside of the state are surprised to learn that Iowa wine can be extremely good, and passes the test of even many self admitted "wine snobs."

There are many good wineries in Iowa, and there are even some great tourist packages around them that I recommend for a casual vacation, like the Eastern Iowa wine trail or one of the many wine tours and tastings offered around the world famous Amana Colonies. If you're the type of tourist who likes some structure, but loves finding a ton of hole in the wall places, you need to visit the Amana Colonies during one of the many festivals that takes place.

Out of the many great Iowa wineries and vineyards, one of my personal favorites is the Cedar Ridge Vineyard. The Cedar Ridge Winery, Vineyard, & Distillery is located south of the city of Cedar Rapids, and is a ten acre vineyard. The Cedar Ridge distillery also makes a local specialty vodka, as well as a new specialty rum, and take pride in being the first legal still that worked in Iowa after Prohibition was repealed.

Wines from Cedar Ridge have won many international awards, and offer a wide variety of red, white, and blush wines. Some of the most popular wines, last time I checked, included:

  • "Geisenheim," a relatively new semi-sweet white wine that has been very popular
  • "Reunion Red" an all purpose red wine that is made to go well with a wide array of meals
  • "Brick House" one of their most popular red wines, often sold out
  • "LaCrosse," a white wine that is marked on their website as "our wine marker's favorite." This white has a very strong (but pleasant) pear fragrance and flavor that works very well on the palate.
  • "Harvest Blush," is a semi-sweet summer wine that is a mix of Concord grapes and apple wine for a sweet and enjoyable combination

These are my favorites that I've had, and this is far from the only quality winery in Eastern Iowa. In fact, I dream of the summer I have the ability to just bum around the Eastern part of the state and visit them all, but alas, I'll have to wait a little longer.

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    • Natural Medicine profile image

      Natural Medicine 8 years ago from Midwest USA

      I'm very pleased to find and read this hub, as I live 20 miles from Indianola (in your video). Thank you for getting the word out about Iowa wines! I recognise the buildings, the video was made on the 'square', in the middle of the 'square', on the court house property. Funny!

    • Jerry G2 profile image

      Jerry G2 9 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      LOL, yeah Denise, I lived in Iowa for years and was stunned when I learned the same thing. Apparently back before the Depression Iowa was fairly famous for its wine. Depending on your poison, there are some great home breweries for beer, vodka, and whiskey, too :)

    • DeniseClarke profile image

      DeniseClarke 9 years ago from Florida

      HOLY COW! Who would have thought tha Iowa had vineyards, let alone wineries! Great info thanks....


    • profile image

      Iowa Wine Tours, Inc. 9 years ago

      Iowa Wine Tours has wine tour packages available.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      You're most welcome! And I'll be putting Iowa's wine country on MY list of future travels! ;)

    • Jerry G2 profile image

      Jerry G2 9 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      I've already added the links and info to my "future travels" page. Thank you very much! :)

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, just outside Attus, AR is the one I visited (and dined at), but there are other vineyards in the area. It's the unique geography of a tiny pocket of western Arkansas near I-40 that makes it possible. Just google "wiederkehr" for more info.

    • Jerry G2 profile image

      Jerry G2 9 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Hi Jama, thanks for commenting! Eastern Iowa is beautiful, and the wine trail is amazing. It's like the "hidden secret" that has somehow managed to remain hidden! I didn't know that about Western Arkansas, but I love to visit "unknown" attractions, so I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open next time I run through :)

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I love Iowa, but had no idea it has wineries! The Iowa Wine Trail sounds lovely!

      P.S. Western Arkansas has several small but great vineyards too.