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John Ernest Vineyard & Winery Tama, Iowa


John Ernst Vineyard and Winery
John Ernst Vineyard and Winery

On your way to the Meskwaki Bingo Casino and Hotel, take a quick detour to visit the John Ernest Vineyard and Winery.  This area is full of history and activities and is right between Cedar Rapids and Ames.  If you’re interested in learning about Meskwaki culture check out the site above.

The winery sits on top of a hill just off the highway.  You’ll see lumbering dogs, and friendly staff and lots and lots of wine!  The gal working on the Saturday that we went, was more than happy to let us try each one of the very distinct wines.  Our favorites were Cranberry, Red Zinfandel, Dusty Road, Iowa Sunset, & Lincoln Highway Red. Ok there were a lot of wines that we enjoyed.  🙂  I admit.

They do have music at the vineyard, but this weekend of the 5th is the LAST of the season!  With Dogs on Skis.  You can get the info HERE on their website.  You can always call them at (866) 533-4544.  They’re official address is 3291 North Avenue Tama, Iowa.  The winery is beautiful and looks like it could be rented out for weddings or other kinds of formal events.  They also have small gifts and of course wine truffles made here in Iowa.  Definitely need to stop and visit if you’re near!

Here is their contact info:

web address:

Phone: (866) 533-4544

Address:  3291 North Avenue Tama, Iowa

Little Swan Lake Winery Estherville, Iowa

On our trip to Terrill, to visit the family, one of our outings was Little Swan Lake Winery in Estherville.  Little did we know that it was the day of their Harvest Festival featuring World Port, Billie James, and Neal Ruge.  Along with a whole other host of goodies.  I desperately wanted to stay to listen to World Port, but my company was getting restless so we left after trying a few different wines.

Now, technically, this isn’t an eating establishment, but it is local and all Iowa.  The beautiful barn turned winery sat as the focal point across from a field where lumbering buffalo roam.  There is a host of different and wonderful wines to chose from and tasting is of course welcome.

Of the wines I was able to try, my favorite was the Concord.  I also enjoyed the Buffalo Blush and Buffalo Frost, one of their signature and award winning wines.  The prices were reasonable on their wines, ranging from their fruit wines starting at $8/bottle to their more traditional (or not) reds for $34.  I honestly found nothing traditional about their wines, at least the ones that I tried, and that was very refreshing.  This is wine you can’t get just anywhere and I’m glad that it’s here in Iowa.