Tour de Willmar Lakes Area: Wineries and Breweries Edition

by Bailey Hovland

As dusk approaches the town of Spicer, Glacial Ridge Winery glows along the side of Highway 23, lit by the string lights dangling from the veranda. It’s just another night in the Willmar Lakes Area, but for visitors to Glacial Ridge Winery, it’s an evening of potential. Perhaps they’re sitting down for one of the many wine tasting events, enjoying local music, or preparing to get their feet dirty in the yearly grape stomp. Regardless of the evening’s activities, Glacial Ridge Winery is a perfect stop during your next visit to the Willmar Lakes Area.


The annual grape stomp is a community favorite in the Willmar Lakes Area, giving people the opportunity to get their hands and feet dirty while enjoying some local wine (photo courtesy of Glacier Ridge Winery).

Their best-selling wines are called Castle Red and Sippin’ from a Slipper, both favorites among locals. Castle Red is a dark red wine for both dry and sweet wine enthusiasts, made from Minnesota Frontenac grapes. Its sweetness is mild, elaborated by hints of deep cherry and berry flavors with every sip of the popular rosé-style wine. Sippin’ from a Slipper is more similar to a Moscato, made with Minnesota LaCrescent grapes. On the sweeter end, Sippin’ from a Slipper is a white wine with a twist due to the surprising citrus aftertaste. This September, Glacial Ridge Winery will be hosting its biggest event of the year, the annual ‘Get Your Stomp On!’ grape stomp, as well as Harvest Fest Family Fun Day.

The Willmar Lakes Area is not only a great place for wine enthusiasts, but also craft beer lovers. With an ever-changing menu of unique brews, Goat Ridge Brewery’s taproom combines an old-school rock-and-roll vibe with a style that can only be described as “bachelor farmer.” Built to honor Goat Ridge Farm out on County Road 5 between New London and Brooten, a lot of the fixtures and furnishings were hand-crafted from the farm’s back groves. You can enjoy a pint while playing some old-school tavern games, paging through a book in their library, or taking in the views of their garden.


The low-lit taproom of Goat Ridge Brewery exudes an atmosphere of comfort and ease, providing the perfect space for conversation and a game of foosball or two.

The New London Amber is a standard but tasty beer, a favorite among Goat Ridge regulars. The Fire Hall is a light and easy beer, popular for its clear and crisp taste. If you’re looking for something a little different, try the American Stout, a brew enhanced by notes of bittersweet chocolate, caramel, and coffee. Goat Ridge Brewery innovates with its brews, changing the menu with new and unique beers when a batch runs out so that you never quite know what to expect when entering the taproom (except for delicious, quality beer). The brewery also lets visitors order food from other local businesses to bring in-house, like Lake Affect Coffee, McKale’s Family Restaurant, Middle Fork Café, and Jimmy’s Pizza. If you’re looking for a calm and eclectic atmosphere paired with a one-of-a-kind brew, Goat Ridge Brewery is the place for you.



The Foxhole Brewhouse’s menu is displayed colorfully and boldly at the forefront of the bar, showing their unique and versatile brews.

Lastly, Foxhole Brewhouse, located in Downtown Willmar, is a beloved taproom that grew out of a couple’s love of craft beer and experimentation with home brewing. As the first brewery in Willmar since 1899, Foxhole brings flavorful and aromatic beer back to the area with its carefully curated small batches. Just next door to The Barn Theatre, this brewery is the perfect place to go after a hard day’s work or a night out on the town. Foxhole, just like Goat Ridge, allows visitors to bring in food from other restaurants, including some downtown favorites like Azteca, Rosita’s, the Goodness Coffee House, and Jake’s Pizza.

Currently pouring at Foxhole Brewhouse are Foxtoberfest, Old Snaggletooth, and Gatewood Electric IPA. The Foxtoberfest is the brewery’s first attempt at the classic German beer, beginning with understated toasted aromas. Bread, crackers, and toast are the primary flavors that hit the taste buds with each sip. Old Snaggletooth is an English Old Ale, bringing strong caramel, toffee, and dark fruit flavors to the table. And finally, the Gatewood Electric IPA is a hopped-up brew bursting with stone fruit, pine, and tropical fruit, which is a perfect drink to sip while enjoying the last few days of warm weather.

With Glacial Ridge Winery, Goat Ridge Brewery, and Foxhole Brewhouse in the community, there are plenty of opportunities to experience local wine and beer when visiting the Willmar Lakes Area.

Fish our lakes

The possibilities are endless on our 30 recreational lakes…boating, swimming, fishing, water skiing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, hydro biking, paddle boarding and so much more!

Fishing Report

Explore our Trails

Surrounded by beautiful lakes and scenery…who wouldn’t take a hike or a leisurely bike ride to enjoy the view? With miles of trials to choose from, you can always find new places to explore.

Trail Report