Business Highlight: Zumbro Falls Winery


Kevin purchased his stunning 80-acre property 31 years ago and has evolved it into the little slice of heaven it is today, weaved between the rolling hills of lush green, located off Highway 63 in Zumbro Falls. Zumbro Falls Golf Club was built in 1999; this year marks the 24th season of golf since the business opened its doors to the community and surrounding areas. In the summer of 2015, Kevin and his wife Laura were enjoying a glass of wine on their deck when he turned to her and said, "For as much wine as we drink, we should plant grapes". Kevin and Laura quickly devised a plan to expand their services in the local area utilizing space on their current property and spent that entire winter researching viticulture. In the spring of 2016, they planted 200 grape vines in total. That same year, Kevin joined the Minnesota Grape Growers Association - he and Laura quickly began networking with many other grape growers across Minnesota. The MNGGA hosts a remarkably informational and highly educational 3-day conference in Minneapolis every year; Kevin states that this conference is worth checking into if you are interested in learning about viticulture. In 2018 Kevin and Laura were then able to plant another 900 grapes; they continued to add more grapes in smaller lots over time. Currently, there are just over 2,200 vines planted in the vineyard.

In 2020 Kevin was voted Vice President of the MNGGA board; it was here that he acquired an abundance of knowledge and experience. Kevin and his wife Laura had the opportunity to tour 50-60 wineries throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Traveling to different wineries was their favorite activity together; Kevin and Laura eventually decided they wanted to work towards becoming a winery themselves. The two then made plans to use the existing clubhouse for wine tastings and retail. The shed was later remodeled for production and processing, as well as a warehouse for storage. It took about a year to get final approval on the plan review from the township before work could begin on the remodel. While moving forward with the process Kevin and Laura worked very closely with the Wabasha County Zoning Department and County Commissioners and experienced no opposition. Next, they obtained their Alcohol, Tobacco, and Gambling License, issued by the Federal US Government; which took an additional 6 months. While Kevin and Laura handled the logistics of their new venture the grapes were maturing and produced a small crop for them that fall, the crop was sold to Next Chapter Winery of New Prague, Minnesota, and Bellezza Winery of Pepin, Wisconsin.

Tragically, on December 9, 2021, Kevin’s wife Laura unexpectedly passed away. It has been an extremely, difficult time for Kevin and their family following Laura’s passing. Kevin continues to work hard on the future of Zumbro Falls Winery in honor of Laura and their dream together. In May of 2022, Kevin asked the Minnesota Department of Ag for a preliminary visit to tour both facilities. Following the tour of both facilities, the Minnesota Department of Ag responded with an extensive “to-do” list for Kevin and his team, who quickly took action on the requested items. Kevin then began to purchase all the necessary processing and fermenting equipment from chillers, pumps, filters, and storage tanks. Zumbro Falls Winery was approved as a Minnesota Licensed Winery on May 1, 2023, and was ready to offer their product to the public

Kevin and his team wanted a menu that could find the likes of an experienced wine drinker and a novice wine drinker. They crafted their menu to offer 12 excellent choices; 5 sweet wines, 3 semi-sweet wines, and 4 semi-dry wines. They named their #1 choice Sweet Laura Lynn, from their Frontenac Blanc grape variety; the team changed the profile of that grape by backsweetening the juice. Their semi-sweet wines are the most popular and sales have been strong for all 3 of the varieties. The fruit juices are frozen in barrels and then imported from Michigan; the barrels of frozen juice are defrosted by Kevin and his team and the fermentation process begins. Kevin states that fermenting the fruit juice is very rewarding. The production room smells exactly like a floral shop for weeks afterward. After the fermenting process, Kevin and his team follow the same steps as the grape process.

All great wines start in the vineyard. You can’t make great wine without great, high-quality grapes. At Zumbro Falls Winery Kevin and his team strive to produce the highest quality grapes with the highest yield possible. To ensure that Kevin and his team produce the highest quality grapes and yield possible the vines are properly sprayed every 14 days all summer starting mid-May and looked after throughout the season. Kevin shared that he was homeschooled in wine-making by Drew Horton from the University of Minnesota. Drew has 25 years of commercial wine-making experience in California and has been at the University of Minnesota for the past 10 years. Kevin met Drew at the University of Minnesota, during his time on the MNGGA board. Recently this past January Kevin was appointed as President of the Minnesota Grape Grower board. Kevin loves both viticulture and the enology of making remarkable wines. Kevin has always had a passion for agriculture and horticulture and viticulture was an easy addition. Kevin has been delighted to have his son Kaleb on the team full-time. Kaleb helps immensely with handling the weekly golf leagues and general maintenance of the golf course.

The Zumbro Falls Winery logo is a black Percheron draft horse. Kevin has 2 black draft horses who reside on the property and are full brothers named Jack and King. It has been the plan for a long time now to give carriage rides around the vineyard for hire. This summer the idea will finally come to fruition. The winery will also offer spectacular live music on the weekends. Kevin and his team hope that the locals will utilize the winery for their social gatherings and their spot, the view from the patio overlooking the golf course and pond is breathtaking.

The Zumbro Falls Winery is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday nights they offer a fish fry from 4:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. and live music starting at 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday Wine Bingo beginning at noon and goes until 2:30 p.m.; food will be served all day. Prime Rib & Salmon will be served for dinner at 5 p.m.; you're welcome to stay for live music beginning at 3 p.m. and going till 6 p.m. Sunday brunch is served at 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Broasted chicken is on the menu from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. - food will be served all day - live music from 2 p.m. to 5 pm.