WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- Under the Tuscan sun in Italy grows the fruit used for making world-renowned vino. And in the coming weeks, California's wine country will be ripening as well.
And even though we're thousands of miles from Europe or the West Coast, these vines, the grapes, the wine can all be found right in our own backyard, like on the sun-drenched bluffs of Garvin Heights Vineyards in Winona-- our first stop on the Great River Road Wine Trail.
"You can have a vacation with just the wine trail and go down the wine trail and hit all the wineries and they're all...each winery is unique," owners said.
A product of the river bluff-lands that were spared from the last glaciers that covered most of North America.
The nine wineries along the Wine Trail sprawl along the Great River Road from Prescott, Wisconsin at its northern most point, to Marquette, Iowa at its southern tip.
The vinyards on the trail thrive on the region's unique soil. The cold-resistant grapes developed by the University of Minnesota create a semi-sweet blend designed for a wide-range of palletes.
Like those of visitors we met at our second stop on the tour at Danzinger Vineyards across the River in Alma, Wisconsin.
While enjoying the scenic overlooks and nearby towns, a group of friends decided to stop by to uncork and unwind.
"We took a little detour," one visitor told KTTC. "Just a little one, but that's okay, you're allowed."
Diane Rivers and her family brought their Aunt Carol, visiting from California, to two of the stops on the trail.
She says her experience here is comparable to that of a tour thorough California's Wine Country. "It's beautiful. It's great. It's all very good," Rivers said.
When we asked her if she had a favorite wine she tried on her stop, she said, "Oh, we drank it already, it's gone!"
Though the laughs and wine were flowing generously, it was time for us to be on our way, and with a toast it was off to our final destination - this one, in Red Wing, overlooking the Mighty Mississippi. We end here, at Falconer Vineyards, with a taste of their "famous" pizza, and the "Grapes of Wrath."
Owner John Falconer says, it's here, nestled in the bluff valleys where he produces more than 5,000 gallons of award winning wine annually.
"Well, it's fun to be part of a new growing industry and the acceptance of the public...everybody comes here, they're happy, they have a good time. It's fun to be part of that, to be able to give that to people," Falconer said.
The bistro's outdoor balcony provides a bird's eye-view of the vineyard where wildlife comes to life at the end of a summer's day.
Now that we've uncovered the wine country of the midwest, this might be the perfect time for you to enjoy all that it has to offer.
And while the sun sets on our day along the Mississippi, a toast....to a great experience, a great life and of course, the wine - from the Great River Road Wine Trail.
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