I got a text Friday morning from my friend Sheri, telling me that she needed an adventure this weekend and wanted to know if we’d be interested in going to a vineyard for some fall tastings. Nate and I don’t usually turn down those requests, so we said yes. I also mentioned it to my friend Jean at work and she and her husband were also available.
We went to the Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, located in St. Peter. St. Peter is near Mankato and home to the College of Gustavus. It’s a pretty little town, about an hour away from Burnsville. We had planned to stay and have dinner and listen to the music out on the patio, which happened to be a guy playing the piano. Perfect background music for our evening.
A little background history of the winery….Chankaska Creek Ranch, LLC was formed on June 19, 2008, to develop a vineyard and winery in a rural setting between St. Peter, Minnesota, and Mankato, Minnesota. The goal of the founders was to produce the finest wines and social experience through focused excellence. Settled along the right bank of Chankaska Creek, the open landscapes of the winery provide a setting for visitors that is defined as first-class, pristine and relaxing. Grapes have been growing in Chankaska’s vineyard since 2008. In the Fall of 2010, construction began on the 11,000 square foot winery and tasting room with an opening date set for May 2012. The facility is surrounded by 25 acres of vineyard and event venues. The original farmhouse and an outbuilding built in 1864 remain on the site and have become the winemaker’s residence. Production capacity of the winery will achieve approximately 10,000 cases anually. A winemaker was hired in December of 2010 to craft Chankaska’s inaugural wines. He immediately went to work equipping the new winery, establishing out-state grape sources and defining our winery operations. After successfully completing the first harvest in 2011, Chankaska Wines now has produced over 9,000 gallons (approximately 3,800 cases) of wine.
The vineyard and winery sits on the right bank of the creek that they take the name from in Kasota, Minnesota. Chankaska is a native Dakota Indian name meaning “forest-enclosed” and we enjoyed the natural setting of the southern Minnesota River Valley, while sipping our wine. I have to say…we all enjoyed their wines very much.
This was our favorite winery so far. It is so picturesque, spread out, with many trees and picnic tables all around. With fall upon us, the trees are starting to turn colors, which made this an even more beautiful backdrop for our evening.
As soon as we got there and found the perfect table, we girls we went for a walk around the entire vineyard. We wanted to take advantage of our surroundings before it got dark and get some nice fall pictures.
We started on the path and it led us to three different areas of their vineyard. One was called the “court”. They do “music-in-the vineyard” out here as well as weddings. There is also a area called the “forest” where weddings are held as well. The third area was the actual vineyard full of grapes. They have this area fenced off, but do offer tours a couple of times a day. We missed that this time, but most of the grapes were harvested by this time anyway.
The creek runs alongside this path and their were two cute bridges that we crossed over during our walk. So many people were stopping to take photos on the bridges…including us.
After our walk, we settled in for a nice evening with our friends. They also have a Tasting Room inside, which features woodfired pizzas and antipasto’s. We didn’t sit up here, but did go inside to order our pizza’s. It was completely full inside as well as outside, but just as pretty in here.
We were getting hungry, so each couple ordered a pizza to share and some cheese bread. It took a while to get our orders, but worth it in the end. They were fantastic and paired wonderfully with our wine.
Out on our patio, there was also another really nice seating area with a bonfire pit, where you could sit and make smore’s while chatting, sipping and listening to the music. The tasting deck was yet another deck filled with tables that overlooked the wooded area and river. It was very scenic.
Yesterday was just what I would call a perfect evening. Loved the conversations, we laughed all night long and we were surrounded by beauty. When it’s 75 degrees in October, you must take advantage of that…and we certainly did. We stayed and closed the place down. I got a spectacular sunset picture as well. Ah, good times…and love our Autumn nights~