Updated: Aug 23, 2022
For years, craft breweries have been hoppin’ up all over Minnesota, especially in Duluth and along the shores of Lake Superior. But, what about the ciders, wines and spirits?
Well, we've got good news, friends!
Over the last few years, there have been more and more wineries and distilleries opening up in our neck of the woods to cater to all taste buds and lovers of adult beverages.
And, while all of these places bring friends together and put the “happy” in happy hour, let’s quickly cover the differences between breweries, wineries, and distilleries.
Brewery: A place where beer is brewed for commercial purposes. You’ll usually find a taproom connected to the brewery so you can enjoy a pint after your tour. There are plenty of these in the Duluth area, and surrounding cities along Lake Superior.
Winery: A place that produces wine or any fermented fruit juice product. And in Minnesota, wineries also can include the making mead and cider, which you’ll learn more about below.
Distillery: A place where spirits are distilled, such as vodka or whiskey. Distillation is the process of using a boiling process to separate certain substances from a liquid to make said spirit.
Now that you’re well-versed on the differences between the three, let’s dive into the best wineries northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin has to offer!
Of course we're focused on Duluth wineries here, but before we head to Minnesota, we'll begin in Wisconsin. Bayfield, to be exact, home to the famous Bayfield Apple Festival. Just about a 90 minute drive from Duluth, you'll find Bayfield Winery—a family-owned and operated winery. According to their website, everything that goes into their wines come from their own orchards and the surrounding farms. The historic farmhouse that hosts Bayfield Winery’s tasting room is also home to Seven Ponds Winery (more below).
Boasting over 20 different wines to taste, and three hard ciders, courtesy of their Blue Ox Cider brand, you'll find a beautiful setting and delicious beverages, just an easy day trip to Bayfield away. It's a scenic drive along the south shore of Lake Superior, and you'll get your cider and apple wine fix from the mouth-watering famed Bayfield apples used in both their ciders and wines.
Recommended Pour: Red Raspberry Farmhouse Cider!
North Shore Winery
Next up, just a short drive up the shore from Duluth, we have the North Shore Winery (and the attached Sawtooth Mountain Cider House), tucked into the Lutsen Mountains. Just about a 90 minute drive up the Lake Superior shore, you'll find a beautiful setting at the base of Lutsen on Ski Hill Road, with outdoor seating, fire pits, and a cozy tasting room for both wine tastings and cider tastings.
They also offer tours of their winery, a wide selection of wines and ciders, and great little snacks to pair with your beverages. North Shore Winery is owned by Chuck and Kim Corliss, avid north shore enthusiasts who wanted to start a business after retiring from their full-time jobs. You'll enjoy the beautiful drive up to Lutsen, the wines and ciders that they have to offer, and the beautiful scenery its offered in. A major benefit too, is that you can buy most of their wines and ciders online, so if you're crazy something you tasted in their tasting room once you get home, you might even be able to get it delivered to your door.
Recommended Pour: Caribou — their first Sauvignon Blanc blended with Riesling and a hint of apple wine.
Wine Seller Winery
We hop back across the Minnesota and Wisconsin border, but just a stones throw away from Duluth this time, into Superior, Wisconsin. Wine Seller Winery in the heart of downtown Superior sells a large selection of delectable homemade wines by the glass, or in flights for tasting, along with bottles. Reviews for Wine Seller Winery tout their friendly staff, including the owner Tracy, and the good selection of wines available. Check out their list of current wines in the graphic below, and give a flight of wines a shot next time you're in Superior.
Recommended Pour: We haven't been yet, so can't recommend a pour, but it appears their staff can steer you anywhere you want to go!
Wild State Cider
Remember that one time at summer camp? Well, that’s where a friendship started between Adam and Andrew 10 years ago and today they’re running Wild State Cider. Wild State Cider is located in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, near Ursa Minor Brewing and the Duluth Grill. Our first location on the list that's right in the heart of Duluth!
Cider, you say? That’s not wine! Well, cider, or as some know it, hard cider, is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice. It’s not a beer or spirit. And cider goes through a similar fermentation process as wine, so that’s why we can throw it on the “best wineries” list!
Plus, according to Minnesota’s Statute, “Wine is the product made from the normal fermentation of grapes including… wine made from other agricultural products that sound, ripe grapes, imitation wine, compounds sold as wine, vermouth, cider, perry, and sake… Wine does not include distilled spirits...” So the technical classification for a cidery in Minnesota actually is a winery. That's also why you'll often see wineries that also sell cider in Minnesota, because... well, because they can!
With many delicious, dry, fruity, and effervescent ciders, you can be sure you'll have a whole spectrum of drinks to try. With flights, pints, and ciders to go in cans or growlers, and creemees for kids and adults, you can taste delicious local flavors however you like! Wild State also consistently has a great calendar of events feature live music, trivia, local food markets, bingo, and food trucks, that will keep you coming back for both the beverages and the live experiences. Be sure to check out Wild State Cider, they're a must stop on your Duluth winery tour!
Recommended Pour: Raspberry Hibiscus!
White Winter Winery
Once more, we're crossing the border from Minnesota into Wisconsin, just a 30 minute drive from Dultuh, for a visit at White Winter Winery. Based in Iron River, Wisconsin, White Winter Winery has been making mead for over 20 years, and they tout themselves as Wisconsin's oldest meadery, cidery, and distillery.
White Winter Winery is also very involved in their community. From using local ingredients to hosting events that showcase the work of local makers and support local causes like the Iron River Fire Department, EMS and Iron River Library.
With a wide variety of events and tastings available, they keep their experience fresh, exciting, and delicious. Plus, with over 110 awards for their wines and ciders, you can be sure the short drive to Iron River is worth a taste!
Recommended Pour: The Sweet Mead is their best selling and award-winning mead, followed by the Cyser.
Located right in Duluth, in the heart of Canal Park at the base of the lift bridge, you'll find Vikre. Vikre is a distillery, not technically a winery, so they won’t be able to offer you a glass of wine per se. But, they do sell a variety of canned cocktails which feature added sustainably farmed wine, and are downright delicious. They're a must-visit during your tour of wineries along the north shore.
Their drink menu changes often, and there’s always something new and interesting to try. Interesting in a good way, not the typical ‘Minnesota Nice’ way. You can sample a variety of gin, vodka, aquavit and whiskey at their taproom in Canal Park.
Recommended Pour: We’re a fan of the Boreal Gin, but they have a rotating drink menu and we’d highly encourage you to try something new next time you visit!
Okay! That's it for now! You have beautiful locations, delicious beverages, gorgeous, awe-inspiring drives, and fun experiences ahead, if you choose to check out all the wineries, cideries, and distilleries on this list. With days of tastings, and places, you could easily make a whole week of visiting the locations on our list. Again, each of the above locations offers wine tastings and cider tastings, many offer tours of their facilities, and all will sell you products to take home, so you can enjoy the magic after you left. We hope you enjoy them all! Did we miss a winery or a cidery? Send us a note and we’ll be sure to add it to our list of the best wineries near Duluth, Minnesota!