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Shorter treks

Other worthy wineries within an hour's drive of the Twin Cities (check websites for hours and directions):

Alexis Bailly: The state's oldest winery and one of the very best. Proprietor Nan Bailly is often around to greet visitors. Try the always-excellent Voyageurs red, and bring along your bocce-ball skills. 18200 Kirby Av. S., Hastings, 651-437-1413,

Cannon River: The atmospheric tasting room (see if you can tell that it's a former Chevy dealership) is in the middle of downtown Cannon Falls. Call ahead to see about having a picnic at the nearby vineyards, with one of the prettiest views in southern Minnesota. 421 Mill St W., Cannon Falls, 1-507-263-7400,

Parley Lake: They share space in a century-plus barn with an apple operation, Deardorff Orchards. The down-home tasting area features some upscale-tasting wines, plus a tasty Apples & Vines bottling. 8280 Parley Lake Road, Waconia, 952-442-2290, (Note that this is near Sovereign vineyards, also in Waconia.)

Saint Croix Vineyards: These guys do a great job with the Frontenac grape, in both table wine and Port versions, and the other offerings are swell, too. Bonus points for a double dip: It shares a parking lot with one of the state's most popular apple farms, Aamodt's. 6428 Manning Av. N., Stillwater, 651-430-3310,

Sovereign: There are sprawling guest grounds and tasting-room options that include an edifying pairing flight. 9950 N. Shore Road, Waconia, 952-446-9957, (Note that this is near Parley Lake vineyards, also in Waconia.)

WineHaven: This is a true family operation, and the Petersons are great hosts. The bee on the labels connotes their "side project," making massive quantities of mead (honey wine). The stuff produced from grapes is pretty tasty, too. 10020 Deer Garden Lane, Chisago City, 651-257-1017,

Woodland Hill: The very definition of a "farm country winery." Lovely vineyards line the highway as you approach this rustic gem, and a giant barn looms over the tasting area. Try the fruit wines, "regular" wines (all above average, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor) and olive oils. 731 County Road 30 SE., Delano, 763-972-4000,