The Best Towns For Wine Lovers In The Midwest, According To Travelers

While the Midwest may not be the first (or even fourth) place you think about when picturing a wine vacation, America's Heartland is filled with rolling hills, Great Lakes, and some magnificent pours. An underrated wine-producing region, 20 American Viticultural Areas (AVA) are spread across this area's 12 states. That means the government, or the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), has established 20 specific grape-growing regions within the Midwest, including the first AVA designated in the country (well done, Augusta, Missouri). Move over Sonoma and Napa. The Midwest is armed with some stiff competition, and it goes down super smoothly!


From more traditional wines like pinot noir, merlot, riesling, and pinot grigio to French-American mixes like Seyval, Vignoles, and Vidal, the Midwest boasts a variety of vino to please even the pickiest of oenophiles. To sample some of the area's tastiest flights, wine tourists can take a road trip through states like Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio, uncorking the best towns for wine lovers in the Midwest along their route. Use this list to figure out which location to stop at first. We made sure all 15 are worthy of a visit by researching dozens of articles written by wine enthusiasts, foodies, and travel experts and studying state and federal wine agency sites before placing them here.


Augusta, Missouri

Officially the first wine region in America, August, Missouri was awarded the federal government's premier American Viticultural Area designation. It even beat Napa and Sonoma to the punch! Dubbed the "Napa Valley of the Midwest," this historic town has some pretty impressive wineries. With over 875,000 wine-related tourists (per Missouri Partnership) visiting the over 130 wineries in Missouri, this is a state you won't want to miss on your wine-lovers vacation in the Midwest. While you're in town, sign up for one of the Augusta Vineyard & Winery Tours to learn the wine-making process.


Other interesting things to do in Augusta include visiting the historic Daniel Boone Home, biking the picturesque Katy Trail, paddleboarding and hiking at Klondike Park, and taking a cruise on the Missouri River. Check in to the Lindenhof Bed & Breakfast for a relaxing couples' retreat. Reviewed highly by multiple tourists, this Victorian B&B is charming and gorgeous. Plus, it's within an easy walk to two wineries (Augusta Winery and Mount Pleasant Estates Winery) and a brewery (Good News Brewing Company).

Traverse City, Michigan

There's no lack of fabulous wine in Traverse City, Michigan -– 50 wineries call this area home. Thanks to an ideal mix of fertile soil, lengthy sunlight hours, and insulation from neighboring Lake Michigan, the grape vines in this beautiful town offer captivating views and vino so delicious that you'll be forgiven for thinking you're drinking in France. Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery is a fan favorite, with wine-loving reviewers complimenting its beautiful vistas, friendly customer service, and delectable wines. One Tripadvisor reviewer wrote, "I've been to wineries all over the world, but this was by far the most fun." Tip: Reserve a balcony seating online before you go.


Take a break from sipping with a hike through Sleeping Bear Dunes and hit the beach in summer or cross-country ski trails in winter, then grab a bite at one of the fab restaurants in the bustling downtown. Spend a night or two at the beachfront Cherry Tree Inn & Suites. A stay includes access to a hot breakfast buffet, indoor and outdoor pools, non-motorized water sports, and many other activities. Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is another excellent option with four pools, three championship golf courses, an indoor water playground, and more.

Rocheport, Missouri

It's easy to fall in love with Rocheport. A historic town oozing Midwestern charm, this small Missouri beauty is an ideal place to visit on a day trip from Columbia (just over 14 miles away) or, better yet, an easy three-day vacation from Kansas City, which lies 116 miles west. Sauce Magazine recommends visiting Blufftop at Rochefort (a.k.a. Les Bourgeois Vineyard), which features wine and spirit sampling at The Tasting Room, a full-service restaurant, and three luxurious guesthouses to enjoy overnight. It gets rave reviews for its tasty flights, beautiful views, and design.


Biking through the former M-K-T railway tunnel on the Katy Trail and popping into shops and restaurants in the heart of town are other popular things to do in Rocheport. The Amber House Bed and Breakfast is an ideal place to stay for a romantic vacation in the Midwest. In addition to its highly reviewed service, large rooms, and comfortable beds, this sweet spot has a massage studio on site, which means you're guaranteed a relaxing stay.

Hermann, Missouri

There are plenty of exciting places to visit in Hermann, Missouri, and they aren't all wine-related. You won't get bored visiting this small Midwest town, from the sprawling Grand Bluffs Conservation Area to a museum dedicated to railway history (the City of Hermann Caboose Museum), historic Hermann Farm, and the majestic Graham Cave State Park. Whet your whistle with a wine tasting at Adam Puchta Winery or Stone Hill Winery, which are highly rated by wine-lovers who enjoy sipping their vino while ogling scenic vistas.


The Hermannhof Winery is another spot you won't want to miss, and its award-winning wines sit pleasantly on the palate. Hermann Wine Trail offers wine tastings and food pairings at six family-owned wineries. Themes include the Chocolate Wine Trail, Say Cheese Wine Trail, and Wild Bacon Wine Trail. Yes, please! The Cottage receives a five-star rating on Tripadvisor for its "adorable, comfortable, and cozy" treehouse accommodations and friendly service.

Suttons Bay, Michigan

Over 13,000 acres of grape vines spread throughout Michigan's pastoral landscape, and 140 commercial wineries can be found there. Suttons Bay, which sits on the idyllic Leelanau Peninsula, is home to one of the state's best–- Black Star Farms sprawls across 160 acres of picture-perfect countryside and boasts 3 miles of hiking trails, outdoor patios, and fabulous wine tastings. This winery produces over 50 wines, spirits, and ciders. MAWBY Vineyards is another great option known for its sparkling wine production, while Shady Lane Cellars has been repeatedly commended for its atmosphere (especially on the outdoor patio), wine tastings, and knowledgeable staff.


Other fun things to do in this town include playing golf at Bahle Farms, visiting the nearby Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, and exploring the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. Unwind after all that wine sampling at the sweet Korner Kottage Bed and Breakfast, a well-reviewed property boasting three comfy bedrooms, kind hosts, and delicious breakfasts.

Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington, Indiana, is a university town with a variety of eateries, plenty of entertainment, and a whole lot of wine. The Butler Winery & Vineyard and Oliver Winery are worth a visit and are conveniently located within a close drive of downtown. When looking for a break from the vino, sample some of the town's other homemade beverages at local distilleries, like whiskey, gin, and vodka. Soak up all that booze with a meal in town. Cardinal Spirits offers tours of its craft distillery, tastings, and delectable meals in its restaurant.


Shopping in downtown stores, hiking the trails in Hoosier National Forest, and swimming in Monroe Lake are among the best things to do in Bloomington. Don't miss a chance to meditate in the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center. If you'd like to stay in the center of the action, book a room at the four-star Graduate Bloomington Hotel. It's right by Indiana University and boasts stunning décor, a fitness center, bike rentals, and the vibrant Poindexter café.

Baroda, Michigan

Lush vineyards, undulating hills, and fruit-filled orchards surround the tiny village of Baroda in Southwest Michigan. Sound idyllic? It is! There are plenty of wineries to choose from in this pastoral place. Better yet, why choose at all when you can spend a day (or more) enjoying a tasting at them all? Gravity Winery, Baroda Founders Wine Cellar, and Dablon Vineyards & Winery top the list of places to visit for oenophiles.


Round Barn Winery & Estate is unforgettable due to its whitewashed, Amish round barn. But don't miss a trip to Chill Hill, where you'll discover more than 30 varieties of wine, plus hard ciders made from Michigan apples, all set in a beachy vibe. This winery also hosts events like Trivia Night and Open Mic Night. If you're hoping for a romantic evening in, Ambrose Bed & Breakfast is the place to stay. Set in what was once a schoolhouse, this early 1900s property is utterly charming. Plus, it's opening a pickleball court.

Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin

Visiting the Wollersheim Winery & Distillery tops the list of things to do in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Nestled in picturesque hills across the Wisconsin River from the quaint town, this winery boasts captivating views, bucolic grounds (there's even a cave), and wine that Tripadvisor reviewers describe as "delicious" and "worthy of tasting and purchase." In addition to sampling the wares, be sure to book a tour and add an ice wine (or two) to your cart. The winery and its homestead have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.


While in town, explore the Great Sauk Trail, picnic in Westwynde Park, and visit the Sauk Prairie Area Historical Society at Tripp Memorial Museum. The two-star Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sauk City is one of the best places to stay close to town and includes breakfast. Or, spend the night at the more scenic (and slightly more upscale) Inn at Wawanissee Point B&B in Baraboo, about 22 minutes away by car.

Paw Paw, Michigan

It's fun to stay in Paw Paw, Michigan, and not only because its unique moniker rolls so well off the tongue. The most stunning landscapes surround this lovely town –- glittering lakes, verdant parks, and rambling wineries. St. Julian Winery offers tastings of its award-winning wines (both dry and sweet) — It's "Michigan's most awarded and longest-running winery and distillery." Did we mention that it also makes hard ciders and spirits? Warner Vineyards is also based in Paw Paw. Visitors can attend a summer concert, taste the wines, or spend the night in the vineyard's train car that dates back to 1912.


While the wineries are the area's main tourist attraction, you can't go wrong with visiting the adorable animals at CanDo Acres alpaca farm or catching a show at The Lucky Wolf at the historic Paw Paw Playhouse. Exploring the Portman Nature Preserve is another must-do activity. When it's time to turn in, rest your head on a soft pillow at the Baymont by Wyndham Paw Paw. It's not luxe, but reviewers on Tripadvisor say the rooms are clean and the beds are comfortable.

Galena, Illinois

You won't have to go far to sample some of Galena County's finest wines -– they're on offer in tasting rooms dotted along the town's historic Main Street. The Massbach Ridge Winery's Downtown Galena Tasting Room is particularly lovely. We suggest carving out at least a few hours to visit the town's central strip, as it's packed with boutique shops and tasty restaurants (over 125 of them, to be exact). If you're hankering for a vineyard tour, head slightly out of town, where you'll find the pretty, family-run Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery.


Want to try an experience that is entirely different from wine tasting? Don some comfy clothes and head to HOOF IT Goat Treks. You'll spend 45 minutes to an hour on these 1.25-mile treks, which are accompanied by goats. This family-friendly activity is located about 15 minutes east of Galena. Wine-loving travelers love to stay at the Aldrich Guest House and have awarded it with five-star reviews for décor, prime location, and "impeccable service."

Geneva, Ohio

There are so many fun places to check out in Geneva, Ohio, and many revolve around wine! You won't be disappointed with a visit to Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, while a trip to M Cellars Winery is just as enjoyable. A lovely lakeside town, Geneva also offers plenty of amusing outside activities, like zip-lining, fishing, hiking, and lounging on the beach. If you have extra time, book a covered bridge tour. The Lodge at Geneva on-the-Lake offers a four-hour tour of 13 of Ohio's most beautiful covered bridges for $50. Otherwise, you can set off on a self-guided tour of the Covered Bridge Trail.


There are 19 covered bridges in Ashtabula County, where you'll find Geneva. This region also boasts more than two dozen wineries, some of which can be explored easily on the Lodge at Geneva on-the-Lake's Ohio Wine Shuttle. For $50, the shuttle will stop at three wineries, including LLaurentia Vineyard & Winery, Laurello Vineyards, Hundley Cellars, and Grand River Cellars, among others. Book a room there so you can roll off the shuttle and right into bed.

Grafton, Illinois

If possible, head to Grafton via Alton, Illinois. That way, you can enjoy a breathtaking ride on the Great River Road, where you'll be sandwiched between limestone bluffs and the Mississippi River. Speaking of rivers, you'll want to spend much of your time by the water in this quaint town. Take a ride on the Grafton Ferry, follow the paved riverside path, and pause to admire the charming (but fake) red- and white-striped Lighthouse. Grafton Winery is a must-visit for those who like a pretty vista. You'll overlook apple and peach orchards and the vineyard while you taste the vino.


Don't miss Aerie's Resort. Tourists can ride on the Grafton Zipline, enjoy the Grafton SkyTour, zip down Aerie's Alpine Coaster, or nap in one of the comfy rooms. There's also a winery onsite. Tara Point Inn & Cottages is also a relaxing place to stay in Grafton. Set atop a bluff, this pretty spot offers scenic views of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Stick around for sunset if you want to up the romance factor of your wine-lovers vacation.

Waconia, Minnesota

Waconia, Minnesota, is a haven for wine lovers and an ideal place for a day trip from the nearby Twin Cities, under 38 miles east. Another small town in a beautiful setting (it sits on the shore of sparkling Lake Waconia), this sweet spot is home to three wineries. You'll find Minnesota's first winery and brewery on Airport Road. Schram Vineyards opened in 2013, has 4,000 grapevines, and offers reservation-based and walk-up wine tastings, tours, and wine blending workshops. Their brewery lies only 10 miles away. Parley Lake Winery has 125 acres, a tasting room, and an art gallery that tourists can visit from Friday through Sunday.


The Winery at Sovereign Estate rounds out the town's wine offerings and provides guests with guided tastings and tours. Waconia Wine Country offers the easiest solution for getting around. Unwind even further by visiting Carlson's Loveable Llamas. Visitors can hug, walk with, or practice yoga beside a llama. When it's time to relax your wine-riddled head, your best bet is to head back to the Twin Cities or grab a hotel in Excelsior, just over 13 miles northwest.

Clinton, Iowa

While Clinton, Iowa, doesn't have as many wineries within its small borders as others on this list of the best towns for wine lovers in the Midwest, it's still a nice place to enjoy some vino. Wide River Winery calls itself a "wine cellar." Here, you can sample wines by the glass or bottle while enjoying a freshly made charcuterie platter. You can even take your wine to-go, enjoying it as you wander the vineyard's trails. Reviewers on Yelp love the relaxing nature of this winery, as well as the friendly staff and unique wine names, like Not Guilty, "First Degree," and "So Sue Me Sue."


The best things to do in Clinton include ogling the views at Eagle Point Park, visiting the Sawmill Museum, and wandering around the 65 acres that make up Riverview Park. The 14-acre Bickelhaupt Arboretum is another beautiful place to visit in Clinton, especially when the flowers and trees are in bloom. The Fisher House Bed & Breakfast is highly reviewed on Tripadvisor for its helpful hosts, beautiful home, and game room.

How we chose the best Midwest towns for wine lovers

Driving out of your way to visit a subpar winery can feel like a waste of time. When that winery is in a dilapidated town with nothing else to offer travelers, you might begin to regret your trip. We don't want that to happen! That's why we dug deep into the research to find the best towns for wine lovers in the Midwest. To make our list, these towns had to be worthy of a visit. In other words, they had to have other things to do while there (like good restaurants, cute shops, or a tourist attraction or two).


We read through what felt like a gazillion (but was probably more like 30) articles written about the best wineries and wine towns in the Midwest. Noting the repeat names (like Traverse City, Augusta, and Hermann), we cross-referenced the towns with tourist reviews on sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp to make sure they were well-liked by tourists as well as the oenophiles, foodies, and travel experts who penned the articles we read. If the towns' wineries received rave reviews, even better -– this was another sign that they deserved to be on our list. We also delved into research conducted by the TTB and official state and federal wine agencies to double-check the area's worth as a wine-based town.