STORY BY ANNA ZAVELL
Madison County is known for its historic Covered Bridges that are scattered throughout the open land.
There are a few other gems hidden within the fields of corn, including Madison County Winery located just outside the small city of St. Charles.
Madison County Winery, located about 45 minutes outside of Des Moines, makes for a great day trip or event location full of laughter, relaxation and, of course, wine.
Perfectly-lined grape vines greet visitors at the native Iowa winery, unveiling the open patio and indoor tasting room.
“My wife and I grew up in Iowa but were living in Chicago for some time,” owner and winemaker of Madison County Winery Doug Bakker said. “While living in the suburbs of Chicago, we used to take our kids to the pumpkin patches and orchards and that’s when I got my idea to open the winery. We knew we were moving back to Iowa, and I wanted to create a leisure destination around the Des Moines area, and so the winery was created.”
Walking up the small hill leading to the tasting room it feels like walking into someone’s living room.
A semi-circular bar is the first thing seen when walking through the doors. A friendly barista greets customers, and she asks how she can be of help.
Visiting for wine tasting? Expect to receive a bright yellow paper that lists all the wines and how each of them sit on the dry-to-sweet scale.
“Our most popular wine is Lollipop,” Bakker said. “It’s a unique taste that no other major wineries make. It is made from Concord grapes so it has that sweet, candy-like taste.”
Not a wine lover? Don’t fret; Madison County Winery can take care of beer lovers, too. Madison County Winery is currently the only Iowa winery that shares a home with a brewery-Twisted Vine Brewery, that is. Twisted Vine produces more than 12 beers throughout a year and rotates four beers on tap daily.
“When I was opening up the winery, I told my brother’s college roommate I was putting in a tasting room. He talked to his friends and they decided to create Twisted Vine Brewery and work with it as a part time job,” Bakker said.
The creators of Twisted Vine Brewery have been brewing beer for some time. Bakker was able to give them a place to make beer and sell it. Both the wine and beer are made on-site.
If driving to Madison County is too much of a hassle, Madison County Winery wines can be found in many Hy-Vees as well as at Calypso 968 in Valley West Mall, Jordan Creek Mall, Targets and other independent wine retailers.
Another great way to get a taste of Madison County Winery is to attend their events both at the winery and off-site locations. Wine-goers can enjoy live music during the summer on the winery’s patio or even schedule an event that the winery can host.
There are also a number of events Bakker created that are hosted in Des Moines.
“‘Indulge’ is a wine, cheese and chocolate event hosted by West End Salvage,” Bakker said. “We use the different floors and set up stations so attendees have a chance to explore the building as well.”
Madison County Winery offers a refreshing atmosphere that is allows for fun and laughter both inside and out. A cold ice bucket of wine, cheese and chocolate engage friends and family who visit and allows for a little getaway relaxation.