We recently visited Tassel Ridge Winery just west of Oskaloosa, at 1601 220th St. Leighton, Iowa. I recommend a trip. Tassel Ridge is the complete package. It has a large production facility complete with a large tasting room, racks displaying the various wines along with some basic information on each wine, several areas suitable for meetings and dining, and a retail area with wine accoutrements. While some facilities have larger dining areas I really don’t think that any have as large a production plant. They can make a lot of wine with all of that equipment. I lost count of how many stainless steel tanks they have, but it is impressive. Tassel Ridge has also worked hard to match the types of oak barrels that are available with the different wine products that they make. They have two 200 gallon large format barrels used for fermenting certain varieties of grapes. The size of this operation is quite impressive considering the fact that the first grape vines were planted in 2002. According to the Fall edition of Edible magazine, Tassel Ridge currently sells 14,000 cases of wine each year.
In addition, Tassel Ridge produces a quarterly magazine, “Simply Extraordinary” which is one of the only marketing magazines that I read cover to cover and then read again. The amount of detail and explanation regarding their operation is incredible. I am just guessing, but based on the number of fermenting tanks, outlets, and market presence I would have to say that Tassel Ridge Winery is likely to be Iowa’s most productive winery.
They grow eleven cold climate grape varieties in 66 acres of vineyards. About 36 different wines, including whites, reds, and dessert wines are produced and then marketed all around the state. Their wine ambassadors crisscross the state leaving no liquor store, Fareway, Dahl’s or Hy-Vee untouched. They offer a rich and varied listing of activities, including tastings, dinners, and special events year-around. I’ve tried many of their wines and many of their wines are very competitive with the best in Iowa. Although most other wineries can only field one or two winners, most of the Tassel Ridge lineup are among the best in their class.
The Tassel Ridge dessert wines are really good and I would not hesitate to pick one up if you are ever in the market for a port or dessert wine. If you are also fond of chocolate, then the Chocolate Granfinale ($20) is to die for. We purchased some of the Oskyfizzante Pink and we are eager to open it up and see how it is. In addition, as I recently wrote in my review of the 2009 Marquette ($25), Tassel Ridge is a leader in developing new cold climate grape varieties in an effort to expand its reach to the dry wine market. Unless you are wedded to expensive French wines, California Cabs and Chardonnays, or Oregon and Washington Pinot Noirs, then give these wines a try.
Tassel Ridge Winery
1681 220th Street – Leighton
Sat: 10-6; Sun: 12-6