We visited my son, and his wife, in Rochester this past week and, at their insistence, we went for dinner at Four Daughters Vineyard in Spring Valley, Minn. Getting to the winery involved a pleasant 1/2 hour drive southeast from Rochester through rolling Minnesota farm land. Living, as we do in the Niagara wine region, all the while on the drive my wife and I were increasingly curious as to how anyone could have a successful wine grape growing season, and produce quality wines, in the short growing season found in Southern Minnesota.
Let me say that "pleasantly surprised" by the wines, and the food offerings does not do justice to what we discovered at Four Daughters. The warm greeting by the Boss, Vicky, set the mood for our visit.
Everything my son and friends said was true. We we're six people, and were able to select a sampling of wines, and menu items which gave us all a taste of the culinary creativity, and the wine maker's talents. The menu was fun to consider, and the food which was delivered met expectations as described on the Menu.
Don't forget to leave room for dessert. Caramel Chocolate Pana Cota….. Yes!!
Selecting a varietal which will mature in Southern Minnesota presents its own challenge, one which the folks at Four Daughters have handled extremely well. Their whites are superb, their reds, while limited in number for now, are a treat for any palate. Everyone's taste for wine is unique, and I found that there is a wine for every taste here. In their Whites, I found their Riesling compares favourably with any produced elsewhere, the Nude Etude is a real pleaser, as is the Frontenac Gris and Rosé. I would never have considered a Gris from the Frontenac grape a workable wine, but this is a rich one!
While the selection of reds is smaller, mainly due to maturity of the vines, the soil creates a fine wine, a factor which is evident across the listings. The Marquette is bold and well rounded, and the Big Boy Blend (sadly, already sold out) is a true 'Big Reds" wine with a great future once more production from the vines becomes available. As well, their lever and unique sparkling wines will make any event special.
We look forward to returning to visit with my son and wife next year and are fully expecting to discover more fine offerings in both reds and whites. And to discover what the excellent Chef and Staff have to offer on the ever evolving menu. Patio dining was wonderful, and the T-Storms rolling across the horizon while we were there provided a natural show as we ate, and imbibed. Thanks Dave!
This is a glowing review, and well deserved, but there is one areas which I would suggest needs be mentioned. The winery is a beautiful building as is the tasting area and display racking. Both invite one to spend time and to enjoy all that is offered. So far, so good. However, the evening we were there the restaurant was very busy, including a wedding reception in the private room. A large group of people, in any location, tends to induce louder voices. Unfortunately, in the beautiful room, surrounded by a fantastic view of the surrounding vineyards through high glass walls in these situations does note foster quiet conversations about the wines, or food.
Some reviewers have posted negative comments about service, and the folks a Four Daughters are aware of the issue and have made great strides in this area with new hires and training of staff.
To the comments about pricing of menu items and wines, I can only say that we found the quality of the foods, and presentations, were top notch. Portions were generous, but not "He Man, Platters" of some "Family Restaurants" . The prices of the wines at Four Daughters, as with any small production boutique wines, on par with what one finds across North America, be it California's Napa Valley, Washington State's Willamette Valley, Oregon, British Columbia's Okanogan Valley or our own Niagara wine region in Ontario. Yes, one can find a $10.00 wine at restaurants across the continent, but not one which offers the quality, and unique results, found in the wines we enjoyed at Four Daughters.
If you do go to enjoy the wines and excellent foods, which is strongly recommended, do try to eat on the patio as it is much more conducive to conversation.
Oh, and look forward to a pleasant conversation with the Family Patriarch, Gary, who visits guests with his perennial, glass of Sangria (Red) in hand.
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