Friday, August 10, 2012

Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery – Spring Valley, MN

D.Rough and I were driving the scenic route back from Illinois, when we drove past Four Daughters Vineyard on a very out-of-the-way country back road just south of Rochester. The building itself stuck out against the cornfields nearby and when we saw what it was, we turned the car around and went back. We’re always up for little adventures like this. It was lunch time, so we thought if they had some sort of food, we might grab a bite to eat and continue on. We’re VERY glad we stopped.

The building and the grounds look very inviting. The restaurant/tasting area of the building has very modern but homey architecture, complete with a nice open patio with tables and chairs for lunch. We walked into the nice open building and found an open table to sit at and looked at the menus. They have a Patio Menu and a Pizza Menu – there’s also a more full menu of offerings, but we didn’t see that until we had already ordered. The menu isn’t super comprehensive, but it does contain some really nice sounding dishes. It’s upscale fare, like you’d expect, but the prices are VERY reasonable. The best part is they have a wine tasting/flight for $5. You get to try six wines (pretty small samples) throughout your meal. Obviously, this sounded great to us. We also decided we would split a fancy pizza.

The server helping us was very down to earth and seemed relieved that we were pretty easy going and told her exactly what we thought of all the wines. We’re not pretentious or anything, but we know what we like and she could tell we weren’t the most formal people she’s ever waited on. She told us a little bit about the vineyards and said they just opened up for business in December of 2011, so it’s really new. The wines we got to taste were all made at the vineyard there:

• Riesling (sweet or off-dry white)
• LaCrescent (light sweet white with a hint of grapefruit)
• Frontenac Gris (sweet white with peach, apricot, and oak)
• Marquette (medium-heavy red wine with some spice and oak)
• Sparkling Moscato (very light white with some bubbles)
• Big Boy Blend (heavy and high-alcohol red)

The pizza didn’t take long to come up, but we kept watching servers brig pizzas to other tables. They looked really good. They had a cracker crust on them and an appropriate amount of toppings (not too skimpy, but not a complete layer of heavy cheese). We had ordered the Greek Olive and Prosciutto pizza – goat cheese, prosciutto, olives, and house-made herb oil. The prosciutto was the star of this show and there was plenty of it on the pizza. The olives added even more salt and flavor to the meal and paired with the (mostly) light wines, it was a fantastic meal. We had to pace our pizza eating, so we still had pizza left when the final glasses of wines came out for us to taste.

At the end of the meal, we even got to taste their homemade hard cider and the homemade sangria, made with the sparkling moscato. Both were good and light, but we thought the wine was the more important and flavorful draw to this place. Maybe if we were out on the patio, the sangria would have been more environment-appropriate, but I thought the cider was a bit too light for me. It’s very light, similar to Crispin, and I like the heartier ciders like Dupont Cidre Bouche Fermier or Strongbow. Again, that’s just me though.

There is a small shop area for wine-related nick-knacks that’s worth a look and the wine is sold right there, as well. It’s very reasonably priced at $16-28 per bottle (and even sold on Sundays!!!!)
We were thrilled with everything about this place. They have all kinds of tours and movie nights and date nights with special menus and wine tastings and appear to run through the winter as well. I’m sure the tours don’t continue through the winter, but the place has plenty of room for eating and wine tasting. There is a wide variety of clientele, which was nice. Looked like some fancy Rochester people, local bubbas, touring motorcyclists, families, and just about everyone in between. I hope this place does well – I know we were very impressed with the servers, the food, the wine, and the whole location. Now that we know this vineyard is on the back way home from Illinois, we might just be taking the scenic route every time!

Top 5 things about Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery
1. Prosciutto and Greek Olive Pizza
2. Sparkling Moscato
3. Frontenac Gris
4. Awesome staff
5. The entire operation/grounds/

Bottom 5 things
1. It’s south of Rochester, so if you’re in that area, it probably isn’t in the bottom 5
2. I know you get six different wines, but I always wish the samples were larger. hahahaha
3. There’s nothing else bad here!!!
4. N/A
5. N/A

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