Explore Waconia Winery: Schram Vineyards

Waconia is big enough for the three of them—Schram Vineyards cements Waconia’s status as a Minnesota wine destination.
The crew at Schram Vineyards.

Overlooking the picturesque Reitz Lake, just adjacent to a quaint grass strip airport, you’ll find Waconia’s newest contribution to the ever-growing Minnesota wine-making industry: Schram Vineyards. Under the eve of a new outdoor pergola, and in the shadow of their 1950s one-story farmhouse, Ashley and Aaron Schram are ready to open their doors to the public this July. The vineyard and winery is a dream five years in the making. They bought the property, cultivated the soil on the south-facing slope, planted hundreds of grape vines and began on-site wine production. And, they did it all in the hours between work and bed, minus, of course, dinner time and nightly family playtime—hours that are free from wine talk as they enjoy their 2 1/2 –year-old son and 8-month-old daughter. “It’s just the whole lifestyle in general,” says Ashley Schram, explaining what attracted her family to the vineyard. “It’s such a unique thing we’re doing here; there are so many people in this community and our friends and family who are involved and supportive.” For Ashley, a true suburban girl, raised in Minnetonka, living in a condo in Uptown when she met Aaron, it’s a step into the kind of life in which her husband was raised. Aaron, who grew up on a corn, soy bean and strawberry farm in Berlin, WI, has always had a love for wine and told her on their first date that his dream was to open a vineyard and winery. He first started toying around with wine in college creating bottles from Welch’s grape juice. Today, Aaron is the backbone of the Schram operation, quite literally. In addition to being the official winemaker in charge of creating the company’s specialty blends, he doesn’t shy away from physical labor at the vineyard and always has another massive project on his to-do list. The wine world is miles away from the careers the couple maintains full time. Ashley, who’s in a relationship management position at Allianz, and Aaron, who’s an independent consultant working in IT and project management for Best Buy, each take on portions of the business. Ashley handles marketing and image-creation, while Aaron focuses on the creation of the blends, the entire family though, participates in farm life. This winter Ashley, Aaron and the kids tromped through the snow to prune the vines. “It’s the farm experience of being able to have them be a part of it all,” Ashley says. “The hard work that we put into it to make it all happen, it’s really rewarding.” When the vineyard and winery open this July to the public the Schrams plan to offer six of their ultimately seven varieties of wine—a dessert wine will be coming later—as well as three others available by the glass. Guests are welcome to attend tastings and vineyard tours. There will be bocce ball courts on site, a fire pit for simply relaxing and, as the season continues, they hope to bring in live music. Long term, the couple hopes to have a wine and bocce ball league and be open for event rentals. Schram Vineyards is the third winery and vineyard to open in Waconia; each has its own variety of wines and specializes in providing a different atmosphere. Steve Zeller, the winemaker at Parley Lake Winery, says the vineyards all have a collaborative working relationship, sharing equipment, purchasing grapes from one another and sharing neighborly advice. He looks forward to hosting joint events in the future. The businesses, he says, make Waconia a wine destination. “The cross-marketing opportunities are immense with three wineries in one town,” Zeller says.   Schram Vineyards in Waconia8785 Airport Road, Waconia; schramvineyards.comOpen 5–8 p.m. Fridays, Noon–6 p.m. Saturdays and Noon–5 p.m. Sundays in July. Parley Lake Winery8350 Parley Lake Rd., Waconia; parleylakewinery.comOpen Noon–6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in July and August. When the orchard is open in September and October, Parley Lake opens at 10 a.m. Sovereign Estate Vineyard & Winery 9950 North Shore Rd., Waconia; sovereignestatewine.com Open 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon–5 p.m. Sundays.