Midwest Wine Country Weekend Getaways | Midwest Living

Midwest Wine Country Weekend Getaways

Enjoy the Midwest's growing wine scene with a scenic drive or overnight stay in one of the region's thriving wine areas.

Midwest wineries: Take your pick

Hundreds of wineries dot the Midwest countryside, perfect destinations for an afternoon outing or quick weekend getaway. The next slides highlight some of our favorite wineries in seven Midwest states, plus suggestions for a great place to stay and another activity in the area.

Virtually all Midwest wineries offer tastings; some also can arrange tours of vineyards or winemaking operations. Check before you go for times and prices. Many wineries also host music festivals, wine dinners, harvest festivals and other special events.

Most of the state winery websites (see the links on the following slides) have wine trail maps so you can plot a scenic drive covering two or more vineyards.

Pictured: Willow Vineyards in Suttons Bay, Michigan, is one of more than 15 wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula.

Willow Vineyards

Ohio: Grapes along Lake Erie

Some 60 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio's largest grape-growing area thrives along Lake Erie and in the nearby region, hiding amid old-fashioned covered bridges and shore towns trapped in time. Nearly two dozen wineries nicely complement the area's long-established resort scene.

Sip: The cellars at Harpersfield Vineyard in Geneva (left) are a dead ringer for those in France's Burgundy region. Sample wines, freshly baked bread and imported cheese in the tasting room, where a large fireplace warms visitors on crisp days.

Stay: Bordering Geneva vineyards, the historic Polly Harper Inn Bed and Breakfast has three spacious bedrooms, including one with a staircase to the Polly Harper Tower.

Play: Take a driving tour of the 17 covered bridges in nearby Ashtabula County, or plan your visit during the fall Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival for van tours, music and pumpkin carving.

Ohio Wine Producers Association

Harpersfield Vineyard

Polly Harper Inn

Ashtabula County Covered Bridges

Missouri: Winemaking tradition

The wine scene in Missouri long predates the current fad for vineyard tours. German winemakers arrived in the region around Hermann, on the banks of the Missouri River, in the 1800s. Today, Missouri has 80-plus vineyards and wineries throughout the state.

Sip: More than a century old, Stone Hill Winery in Hermann (about 90 miles west of St. Louis), with a restaurant and bright tasting room that offers ridge-top views, is a star among a dozen-plus wineries along the eastern Missouri River Valley.

Stay: Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn offers both an attractive B&B and modern cottages overlooking the Missouri River.

Play: In Augusta, about 40 miles east of Hermann, Mount Pleasant Winery hosts elegant winemaker meals--and murder mystery dinners.

Missouri Wines

Stone Hill Winery

Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn

Mount Pleasant Winery

Michigan: Prestigious vintages

Vintages from two established wine regions--in the southwest corner and around Traverse City--have won prestigious awards. New wineries are gaining reputations in the southeast.

Sip: Gaze out picture windows onto lovely views of the vineyards at Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant (left) in southwest Michigan's Buchanan. In the Traverse City area, Chateau Chantal has a panoramic view of the bay plus tasting room, cellar tour and B&B.

Stay:  In the Traverse City area, Stafford's Perry Hotel, a renovated 1899 landmark in Petoskey, offers views of Little Traverse Bay, plus boat and trolley tours.

Play: In southwest Michigan, visit the only female Dutch-certified miller in North America at Windmill Islands and Gardens in Holland. In Traverse City, grab a bike and whisk down the new paved 29-mile trail along Little Traverse Bay.

Michigan Wines

Leelanau Peninsula Vintner's Association

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail

Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail

Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant

Chateau Chantal

Stafford's Perry Hotel

Windmill Islands and Gardens

Little Traverse Wheelway

Illinois: Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

While Illinois has nearly 80 wineries, the best-known area is the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in the southern tip. The 25-mile trail connects about a dozen wineries along the scenic backdrop of the Shawnee National Forest.

Sip: Blue Sky Vineyard, at the east end of the trail, offers wine tasting, food and a two-bedroom inn, with memorable views over the vineyards (left) and countryside.

Stay: Explore 12 acres of woods and gardens, plus a lake with a paddleboat, at Hidden Lake Bed and Breakfast along the wine trail.

Play: The huge Shawnee National Forest covers 280,000 acres between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Popular spots in the park area include the Garden of the Gods rock formations and Bell Smith Springs, a canyon and watershed with 12 miles of trails.

Illinois Wines

Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

Blue Sky Vineyard

Hidden Lake Bed and Breakfast

Shawnee National Forest

Indiana: Winemaking along the Ohio River

The Ridge Winery in Vevay and a handful of other vintners have revived one of the country's original winemaking regions along the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana.

Sip: Sample some of the Ridge Winery's dozen wines while you watch the Ohio River flow lazily beyond the Tasting Room deck (left).

Stay: In Madison, about 20 miles west of Vevay, the Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park offers recently renovated rooms, a restaurant and a pool, with hiking, tennis and a nature center nearby.

Play: Go antiquing in Madison, an old steamboating town. Almost the entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wineries of Indiana

Southeast Indiana Wine Trail

The Ridge Winery

Clifty Inn


Switzerland County

Iowa: Scenic northeast wine trail

Taste regional specialties along a trail that links several wineries in the state's rolling northeast corner.

Sip: At Park Farm Winery (left), a picturesque chateau soars above the tiny burg of Bankston, with a tasting room and retail shop (17 miles west of Dubuque). Buy a bottle and head to the back deck for a valley view of farm and forest.

Stay: The Hancock House in Dubuque, a Queen Anne Victorian built on a bluff, has some of the best views in town.

Play: Iowa's only authentic paddle wheeler, The Spirit of Dubuque, and the modern yacht Miss Dubuque cruise the Mississippi on sightseeing or dinner cruises leaving from Dubuque.

Iowa Wine Trail

Park Farm Winery

The Hancock House

Dubuque River Rides

Kansas: Head to Smoky Hill

About 20 wineries dot the eastern and central parts of the state, with several clustered close to Kansas City.

Sip: Taste hearty reds and drier whites, along with sweeter varieties, at winemakers' dinners or the tasting patio at Salina's Smoky Hill Vineyards & Winery (left).

Stay: Swedish Country Inn in Lindsborg, about 20 miles south of Salina, celebrates the town's Swedish heritage with a Scandinavian-theme breakfast buffet and Swedish furnishings.

Play: Learn about pioneer life at the McPherson County Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg.

Kansas Wines

Swedish Country Inn

McPherson County Old Mill Museum

Comments (0)

Loading comments...

Add Your Comment