Friday, November 1, 2019

A Visit to Next Chapter Winery

Disclosure: What you are about to read is an article from my old website: The Sheltered Gallivant. The article, which was posted earlier this year, covered my visit to Next Chapter Winery, which is a small winery based out of New Prague, Minnesota. Given the direction that I wish to take with this website moving forward, I feel that it is now appropriate to share this article with everyone and I hope you all can see why.  With that said, I hope you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed putting it together earlier this year.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, Minnesota is best known for its craft beer, followed closely by craft spirits. However, if there’s one aspect of Minnesota made alcohol that I consider to be vastly underrated, it would have to be wine. In fact, when I tell people that Minnesota is home to a lot of wineries, their reactions range from disbelief to amusement.

I don’t blame them either since I was in that position at one point. That is, until I was a senior in college and did an internship with a wine education company and discovered just how vast the Minnesota wine scene was. Picking up from where I left off from those seven years ago, this is one of those things that I want to keep on looking further into. With that said, let’s delve into our first wine article!

Our first winery is Next Chapter Winery, located in-between New Prague & Montgomery, which is about 50 miles south of Minneapolis. They planted their first grapevines in 2007 before becoming established in 2011 and finally opening their doors to the public & for private events in 2014. They’re located on a farmstead that I accidently drove past when I arrived and had to do a U-turn on account of the GPS on my phone not working. When I finally made my way down the drive way, you know very quickly that you’re at a winery on account of the numerous wine-themed signs hanging from the trees.

Eventually, you come across a big red barn next to a gravel parking lot, which is houses the tasting room. The barn itself is quite old, as in “Built-in-1910” old, and has a certain atmosphere of rustic to it. Behind it, you see the rows of grape vines that stretch outwards. Outside, you get the feeling of rusticness and this is reinforced when you set foot inside.

If there’s one word I’d use to describe the tasting room other than rustic, it would be cozy. The walls are nicely filled with decor and the low hanging ceiling gives you a real sense of intimacy without necessarily being claustrophobic. You can either sit at the bar or at one of the tables spread throughout the tasting room.

Since this is a winery, I had the chance to sample a good variety of wines during my time there. However, wine tasting would be complete without some pairings. For this I decided for a meat platter with offerings from New Prague-based Orenthal Meats. This, of course, comes with a delicious wild rice baguette to act as a palate cleanser of sort.

Now let’s talk about the wine. I decided to try a few offerings; From driest to sweetest, I wanted to be sure to get a good sample of everything. So without further ado, here’s what I thought of the wine.

Muscat – Their driest offering. This wine has a mildy sweet white grape flavor with a slight oak undetone. The aftertaste is very dry, save for some mild bitterness. It’s a nice dry wine that gets the job done and there’s nothing wrong with that

Wedded Bliss – A 50/50 Mix of the Cabernet & Marquette grapes. This one’s got a full bodied feel with some dark grape and some light bitter tannins upfront with a slight hint oak on the back of the palate: Which itself is otherwise reasonably dry. All and all, a nice blend and it keeps in spirit with the winery’s reputation as a wedding venue (More on that in a bit!)

Blackberry Delight – A wine that is made with, you guessed it, blackberries! This one has a sweet blackberry and dark currant flavor that lingers throughout the palate and has a nice sweetness in the aftertaste. Full disclosure, I ended up getting a bottle of this to take home with me; It was literally that good!

MN Ice Wine – A wine whch came with an education lesson courtesy of Chuck. In order to be considered an Ice Wine, the requirements are that the grapes harvested must be on the vine in consistent 17 Degree Fairenheit temperatures for 3 consecutive days and must not rise above that temperature threshold. In any case, this wine was definitely different than the other ones I tried. It’s got a bright white grape flavor to it but there’s also a distinct boozy and honey-like sweetness in here too; The latter of which lingers on the back of the palate. It’s also worth noting too that this wine clocks in at 18% ABV, all the more reason why the sample I got wasn’t a huge heaping portion, which is a good thing because I spent my time nursing this.

As I enjoyed my Blackberry Delight, I was informed by Dawn if anyone had told me about their specialty Wine Ice Cream Float. Perplexed, I inquired as to what exactly that was. It was explained to me that it was their Blackberry Delight with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some Sprite poured in to give it a kick. Since wine & ice cream are two things that I never imagined in the same glass, I decided to go ahead and give it a go.

It is served in, what else, a wine glass. It certainly looked good, but did it taste good? The answer is a resounding “yes!” The vanilla ice cream helps subdue the sheer sweetness of the blackberry delight while giving the Sprite a chance to help bring everything together into a fruity yet not-overtly sweet concoction. I was told that the owner of the winery actually came up with this idea one night. I’m sure what the thought process was behind this and I don’t care because it is tasty!

At one point during my time at Next Chapter, I was shown the barrel room/reception hall, as well as their small bottling and distilling by Chuck. During our time there, he asked if I wanted the light to be on as I snapped photos but I informed him that it wouldn’t be necessary as I thought that ambient lighting from outside was doing the job all on its own. Apparently Next Chapter is considered by some to be a premier place to hold a wedding ceremony and reception. Even though it’s the dead of winter at the time of writing this, I could see just how picture-esqe the winery would look during the spring & summer months. Judging from the photos that I came across of Next Chapter during warmer months, it’s very easy to see why this place could be host to a wedding party.

Overall, Next Chapter Winery has a good variety of tasty wines to choose from, all from the comfort of their cozy, atmospheric tasting room. Plus there’s tons of stories to be had here with how this place came to be. Don’t take my word for it, go visit and see for yourself!

They are located at:
16945 320th Street
New Prague, MN 56071

Their Winter Hours (November-March) are:
Friday 4pm-8pm
Saturday 12pm-8pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm

Summer Hours (April-October) are:
Friday & Saturday 12pm-10pm
Sunday 11am-5pm

For more information about the winery, you can visit their website at

A special thanks to Chuck & Dawn for making my time at Next Chapter an excellent one, I’ll be sure to stop in once the weather starts to warm up again and the surroundings become more greener!

No comments:

Post a Comment