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Vows in the Vines: Minnesota Vineyards for Your Wedding
If you envision nature as a backdrop for your wedding, with rustic elements and Old World elegance, a vineyard might be your perfect venue. Wine country can be found closer than you think. The number of wineries and vineyards in Minnesota is growing, and many are ready to host dream weddings for local couples.
Situated on 160 acres, Carlos Creek Winery boasts gorgeous vineyards, a ceremony site nestled in a grove of trees, and endless beautiful backdrops for photos. Photography by: Graddy Photography
Minnesota Wine Country
Kate Marti and husband Jace admired friends’ weddings in California’s storied Napa and Sonoma valleys. “But our family would have been heartbroken if we didn’t get married at home,” says the recent bride. When they visited Jace’s aunt and uncle’s winery Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm, the couple realized they could have their dream venue without leaving the state.
“We got everything we wanted and then some,” she says. The beauty of the rural setting won them over, and they married there in August. “We’re kind of outdoorsy people. It fit our personality and what we like to do.”
A vineyard provides a picturesque backdrop, says Jeannine Pohl, owner of Jeannine Marie Photography in St. Paul. Pohl photographed Marti’s wedding and says she loved capturing the bride’s dramatic entrance. In the distance, between the lush green hills and blue sky, the bride in white suddenly appeared. Her captivating procession across a field reached its finale under a century-old oak tree with the grapevines cascading in the background.
“The lines of the rows make for really aesthetic photos,” says Pohl. Whether snapping images in the stunning natural surroundings or in front of vintage wine casks, your photographer is sure to have plenty of photo ops.
At Morgan Creek Vineyards, Kate Marti and husband Jace realized they could have their dream winery wedding—without leaving the state. Photography by: Jeannine Marie Photography
With barns, fields and foliage aplenty at a vineyard, it’s no surprise that many brides go the rustic route when planning their wedding décor. Chelsey Schrupp, event manager at Crow River Winery in Hutchinson, has helped create many events that were accented with burlap and farm tables, lace and cowboy boots. Recently, however, she’s seen a shift, as brides opt for a formal ambiance with sequins and candlelit centerpieces.
That’s one benefit of getting married at a vineyard—the versatility of such venues lends itself to many décor themes, so you can make it your own. “There’s a level of personalization that’s not always available at other types of venues,” says Ashley Ebert, owner of the Simply Elegant Group in Minneapolis.
“We kept a natural theme, with loose, draping florals for a romantic feel,” Marti says. At a vineyard, much of the décor comes built in. “With so much natural beauty, you don’t have to do that much,” she says.
Bride Emily Gisler also kept it simple. For her 2015 wedding at Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls, she brought in draped fabric and chandeliers for a touch that didn’t steal the spotlight from the surroundings. “It was important to us to be outdoors, a little casual, but classy and elegant.”
For brides who want to fully embrace the vineyard theme, there are endless possibilities. Wine barrels make charming high-top tables for cocktail hour. Some couples incorporate wine into their ceremony as a unity symbol, each pouring a different wine into a glass to make a new blend. A wedding guest “book” can be a container of signed wine corks.
Crow River Winery’s stunning grounds were the perfect place for Nick and Lydia Schrupp’s sunny summer wedding. Photography by: Laura Duce Photography
Seasons of Love
The most popular season for winery weddings is late summer to early fall, when vineyards are at their peak beauty. But Ebert cautions that these popular dates will book up 12 to 18 months out, so reserve early.
While vineyard brides often take advantage of the scenic outdoor setting, some venues also have gorgeous interiors for the ceremony, reception or both. Villa Bellezza’s reception hall, courtyard and piazza in Pepin, Wis., for example, look like they’re right out of the Italian countryside.
Indoor space opens up the possibility of weddings at any time of year. Winter winery weddings have a romance all their own, and guests can still admire the beauty of the vineyard. “We get a fresh snow and it looks like there are crystals going down the vines,” says Amy Perrin, hospitality manager at Winehaven Winery & Vineyards in Chisago City.
Even if your heart is set on an outdoor wedding, consider having an indoor option available in case of rain. “I always joke to my clients that the only thing I can’t control on your day is the weather,” says Ebert. As Gisler discovered, in Minnesota even sunny weather can have surprises. “I wanted to wear my hair down, but the wind blew my hair and veil all over the place. It was dramatic for pictures, though.”
Another seasonal consideration: what’s happening at the winery at that time of year. Vineyard operations, and in some cases public tasting hours, won’t pause just because you’re getting married there. “They open up their beautiful facilities for clients, but their priority is making wine,” Ebert says.
Things to Consider
Wineries offer plenty of choices for sipping, but usually theirs is the only alcohol they will serve. Sally Berry of Minneapolis wedding planning company Sally Berry & Co. says this has never been a drawback for her clients. Enjoying the beverages created there is part of the appeal of a getting married at a winery, after all.
The rustic beauty of vineyard venues can have its challenges, too. At a recent wedding Berry planned, guests had to walk on a gravel road from the ceremony site to the reception. “We had to make sure they knew to wear the correct footwear,” Berry says. “It’s important that it’s communicated to your guests ahead of time so they can be comfortable.”
When working with nontraditional venues such as vineyards, bring in the pros to help. Wedding planners are used to working with all types of venues and managing all the little details you might never have thought of, making your vineyard wedding a breeze.
The Guest Experience
A wedding at a winery can get the guests in on the fun. Guests love getting into the spirit with tastings, vineyard tours and even grape stomps. Enhancing the day with some of these activities will have friends talking about your wedding for years to come. Winehaven, for instance, can do a presentation for guests during cocktail hour. “They get to learn something fun about the flavor notes of wine and how to taste them,” Ebert says.
At Marti’s wedding, the pre-ceremony cocktail hour was a big hit with guests. “It’s a perk—guests can get a glass as soon as they get to the winery,” says Berry.
“Wineries often give deals on buying in bulk, so champagne or wine takeaways are popular favors that remind you of the wedding,” says Ebert. No matter how you personalize your day, a venue in the vines will make for a memorable occasion. “It’s an authentic local experience,” she says. *
Each vineyard venue has its own flavor. This list of wedding-friendly wineries is a starting point to finding the best fit for you.
Cannon River Winery
Rustic or modern, get the best of both worlds here. Say your vows in a 150-year-old barn and then take your celebration to the property’s new event center, all surrounded by vines and rolling hills.
Carlos Creek Winery
Situated on 160 acres, the property has open fields, vineyards and landscaped flower gardens. The outdoor ceremony site, nestled in a grove of trees, and indoor venue can each hold 350 guests.
Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery
At this outdoor venue on the banks of a wooded creek, 250 guests can enjoy a deluxe air-conditioned tent with vaulted ceilings, flooring and lighting. An additional year-round indoor venue can accommodate 75.
This outdoor wedding venue’s picture-perfect details—stone bridge, gazebos, wishing pool and bridal cottages—make this location unique.
Crow River Winery
At this rural setting just a short drive from the Twin Cities, 400 guests can enjoy the reception hall and outdoor ceremony space. An indoor ceremony site is available year-round for weddings of up to 220.
Dancing Dragonfly Winery
This venue’s event center boasts vaulted ceilings and natural woodwork, while lush vines provide a beautiful backdrop for outdoor ceremonies.
Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery
Ceremonies are held in the middle of the six-acre vineyard. Onsite chefs create cuisine that pairs with their wines, ciders and custom cocktails.
Morgan Creek Vineyards
At Minnesota’s only underground winery, the earth shelter provides perfect cellar temperature for wine production. Up to 125 guests can enjoy the scenic grounds.
Find authentic wine country ambience for your outdoor reception at this winery. They don’t host ceremonies, but they refer other nearby venues.
Featuring classical architecture inspired by the villas of southern Europe, this winery venue can hold up to 300. Located just across the Wisconsin border, the surrounding area offers stunning bluff and river views.
Winehaven Winery & Vineyard
Surrounded by lakes and hillside vineyards, this venue has fabulous views at every turn. It also offers a patio, ballroom and bridal suite.
Woodland Hill Winery
A classic red barn, oak and pine trees, and flower gardens add rustic charm for outdoor weddings at this storybook countryside winery.