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Pinning down the singular identity of Minnesota wine, beer, and spirits would be So. Totally. Lame! The true beauty of our sate is wild, tough, and distinctive — sometimes quietly and sometimes bombastically so.


This year, we’re celebrating Minnesota Month on all cylinders and in all its many facets…



Celebrate Minnesota Wine Royalty with new AxeBridge/Laketown wines from Schram Vineyards, and ever-classic mainstay wines from Saint Croix Vineyards throughout August. Find tour dates at your local Top Ten here!


PLUS – meet the whole Beverage Club cast of personalities leading Minnesota in charm and character, from delightful spirits to delicious brews.


Saint Croix Vineyards


From: Stillwater

Interests: Live music, picnics, yoga (all regularly enjoyable at Saint Croix Vineyards!)

Well-established pioneers of Minnesota varietals, Saint Croix owners and winemaker, Martin, have solidified their status as top-quality producers of wines defining a Minnesota style to be proud of. They’ve long been honing their viticultural approach to varietals developed for cold weather heartiness at the UofM, each vintage revealing extra depths and dimensions that open up a new kind of conversation around cold climate winemaking potential.

Their experiments with sparkling wines, native fruit cofermentations, and varietally-local red grapes (no Cali imports) are proving that cool weather varietals can offer complexity and balance on the dry/off-dry end of the spectrum, as well as seriously compelling dessert wines. What a cool opportunity for winter — perhaps the most Minnesota vibe of all — to enter the global conception of terroir!

Check out our favorite bottles at a Top Ten tasting near you:

  • Frontenac Blanc
  • Marquette
  • Summer Red
  • Raspberry Infusion
  • Port

AxeBridge Winery


From: The North Loop

Major: Urban Development

Since building a devoted following at their original winery in Waconia, MN, Aaron and Ashley Schram have proved they are deeply devoted to promoting and elevating Minnesota on the beverage scene. The first in the state to establish both a winery and brewery at their Waconia estate, the Schrams can’t-sotp-won’t-stop with their plans for local beverage culture innovation.

Their newest venture, a beautiful and fully-functional urban winery in the North Loop, offers the platform to explore exactly what Minnesota varietals can bring to the world of wine. Especially exciting is their pursuit of sparkling wine, which they approach with both technical prowess and a cheeky skirting of a few “rules.” We are quite happy to join in their invitation to learn about and fall for Minni-vini.

Check out our favorite bottles at a Top Ten tasting near you:

  • Laketown White
  • Laketown Sparkling Rosé
  • Laketown Red Blend
  • AxeBridge Itasca
  • Axebridge Mill City Red

Vikre Distillery


From: Duluth

Favorite Quote: “A good artist, it is often said, is fifty to a hundred years ahead of their time; they describe what lies over the horizon in our future world…The artist’s sensibility is one that grants life to things outside of our normal human ken.”  -David Whyte

You’ve never met North Shore enthusiasm like this. Directly adjacent to Lake Superior, Vikre Distillery sources their water from deep within those haunting waters to their closed-loop filtration system, promising the most pristine expression of Superior water’s unique purity. Water sourcing is essential to some of the most place-expressive spirits in the world, and Vikre juice can prove it to you. Each of their diverse bottlings feature a silky softness which carries flavors beautifully and contributes a next-level mouthfeel you won’t find anywhere else.

Besides that palpable inspiration from their favorite Great Lake, the folks at Vikre source their earth-bound ingredients as locally as possible, favoring foraging partners and organic growers. Their production is zero-waste, and Vikre bottles can be returned and reused at the distillery (though they make pretty cute vases/water carafes as well). They partner with St. Louis River Alliance and Friends of the Boundary Waters to promote protection of and education about watershed resources and sustainability. That’s quality behind the bottle as well as within.

Our Favorite Bottles:

  • Boreal Cedar Gin
  • Honor Brand Hay & Sunshine Bourbon
  • Ovrevann Aquivit
  • Amaro Superiore
  • Frenchie Canned Cocktail

The Damphwerk


From: St Louis Park

Hobbies: Baking, cooking, generally feeding everyone all the time

With their minds on flavor in all its facets, The Damphwerk is all about neat spirits for sipping neat. Patriarch head distiller, Ralf, hails from southern Germany but spent his young life traveling and experiencing traditional, hyper-local aquavit, brandies, and liqueurs in taverns throughout Deutschland. Finding much more limited spirits categories upon moving stateside, Ralf ultimately decided to bring his singular passion and chemical engineering background to producing German-inspired spirits himself.

And Minnesota turned out to be the perfect spot for spreading that enthusiasm far and wide. Since their establishment in 2016, The Damphwerk have developed relationships with growers and other producers — as locally as possible — to build Minnesota into their European spirit sentiments. Their products reflect Minnesota’s four true seasons, from pursuing native and heritage fruits for their line of brandies, to grain sourcing from friends and fellow distillers, Far North, in Hallock, MN.


Our Favorite Bottles:

  • American Single-Malt
  • Barreled Gin
  • Barreled Apple Brandy
  • The Helgolander Herbal Liqueur
  • The Rabbit in the Rye

Studio Distillery


From: Saint Paul

Major: Photography

Though the Saint Paul distillery is intimately small and nearly a one-man-show, chat up head distiller Brad for a few minutes and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the posh-est of spirits libraries. That artistic attention to detail must come in part from Brad’s background in photography, and his distilling awards are stacking up against his art world reputation at a pretty good clip.

With bourbons, ryes, and gins crafted in the pursuit of the highest level of flavor expression, Brad combines little-seen techniques with a deep respect for tradition. From their sipping gin, which marries old school English juniper notes with exotic spices and Japanese yuzu, to their brewer’s malt chocolatey-smooth rye, we’re lucky to have this one-of-a-kind spirits voice in our own backyard.

Our Favorite Botles:

  • Bourbon Whiskey
  • Rye Whiskey
  • Exhibition Gin

Falling Knife Brewing


From: Northeast

Favorite Quote: “A falling knife has no handle.”

Falling Knife is a little contrarian in their founding inspiration — as in many things. Willing to take those lumps in pursuit of their own authentic style, this is not a brand shackled to trends or established norms in the craft beer arena. While their lineup is certainly not IPA-poor, no two brews are the same (refreshing!).

Much of their inspiration is pulled from classic Belgian and German flavor profiles, rather than sticking to the musty and limiting East-Coast/West-Coast argument. Their tasting room is a cacophony of pinball machines and a healthily-amped punk/metal/trap playlist, and their brews match that energy handily. If you’ve tired of those safe Minnesota craft standards, get your mitts on some Falling Knife. Just watch your fingers!

Our Favorite Cans:

  • Verbal Tip DDH Hazy IPA
  • Hidden Temple New England IPA
  • L-Bombs Imperial IPA
  • Tons of delicious rotational sours – Ask your local TTL Beer Specialist for availability

-Aimee Hutchinson | Wine Manager Top Ten Liquors

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