Day 2 – Corn, Wheat, Soybeans, and Cider

I left the brewery bright and early on Day 2 to continue west toward what might be the most picturesque of my planned stays. When I was checking out places to camp along the way, I was particularly struck by the views of the lake at L’Etoile du Nord Vineyard in Parker’s Prarie Minnesota.

Upon my arrival I was greeted by David who was taking care of tasks related to shutting down the tasting room. My instructions were to arrive after 5:00 p.m. local time because they were expecting a busy day. David directed me to a couple of options for parking, and then let me know that his wife Polly was waiting in the tasting room; I was being treated to a private tasting.

I was given lots of options on what to choose, and I settled on a flight of ciders. Polly suggested that I take a seat out on the patio overlooking the lake, and it could not have been a more perfect suggestion.

Of the four ciders I tried, two were clearly my favorites – Lake Irene Lemon, and Raspberry Apple Cider. While the lemons were not sourced locally, the apples were, and everything was made on site. I can neither confirm nor deny that I may have placed in order to send six bottles of each home…

I asked Polly what areas of the grounds I would be able to explore, and what ones I needed to make sure remained private, and she graciously provided me access nearly everywhere. I also asked about going down to the lake, and she directed me along the side of their home to a beautiful stone entry which led to a small dock. I specifically packed my paddle board in hopes that I would have the opportunity to put it out on the lake.

First thing after putting the paddle board in the water, the lake and I had a bonding moment. I got myself back up on the board, pulled algae out of just about everywhere, gathered up my pride since I had done this in front of several folks on boats, and set about exploring this little piece of heaven. At least the water was warm, and I could barely hear the laughter from the witnesses. I had a pleasant hour on the water watching dragonflies, fish, and people enjoying their holiday weekend before deciding to call it a night and head back to the van.

I’m a morning person so when I woke up and saw the light filtering in through the van windshield, I grabbed my camera and set off to enjoy the sunrise over the lake.

Unlike the night before, the lake was quiet and there was not a boat in sight; the morning belonged to nature. As I sat there listening to the water lap against the rocks, I saw a spider seemingly walk through the air. It was moving along a web string that I never could see, and after a while I came to realize there were actually two of them.

While this post has mostly focused on my time at the vineyard, the drive between St. Charles Illinois and Parker’s Prarie Minnesota was beautiful. The land was mostly flat and I could see such an incredible distance. Everywhere I looked, to the left, to the right, in front, and behind, I could see acres and acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat. Everything looked so lush and healthy, and I was reminded of a saying I grew up with that corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July”. Huge farms dotted the landscape with clusters of silos and barns, not like what I am accustomed to seeing on Indiana however, these were HUGE working farms, and they were everywhere!

So far the weather has been quite accommodating providing blue skies and tolerable temperatures. The only challenge I’ve had has been when the wind picked up and driving the van became quite difficult. I am thankful, however that I was not towing a trailer as I saw several folks struggling to keep those on the road.

As I write this post it is now Day 3. Today I am leaving Minnesota, driving through North Dakota, and spending the night at another vineyard, this time in in Montana.


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