Round Lake Vineyards & Winery Updates

2 May 2019

Round Lake Vineyards & Winery Wins Double Gold and Goes 6 for 6 in 2019 International Wine Competition


Result are in for the 2019 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) held in Rochester, New York. With over 3,000 total entries from commercial wineries from around the world, Round Lake Vineyards & Winery was one of only 59 to win a coveted Double Gold Medal with its red blend, The Gander.

In the blind tasting competition, conducted April 13-14 all six wines submitted by Round Lake Vineyards received medals. In addition to The Gander’s double gold, the 2016 Frontenac Gris took a gold. Silver medals went to its 2017 Brianna, 2017 Marquette Reserve and The Drake, a blend of Marquette, Merlot and Zinfandel. A new blend for the winery The Heron, consisting of Petite Pearl, Marquette and Petit Sirah was awarded a bronze medal.

As many as 60 national and international wine professionals are drawn each year for the event, three to four to a panel. Panels blind-taste the wines in “flights.” Each glass from a flight delivered to a judge is identified only by its computer-generated code number. Judges then score each entry on its presence, balance and varietal character.

Round Lake Vineyards & Winery selects wines released in the competition year to represent the winery. “We can’t send all our wines to the competition, so we have to be selective,” says Scott Ellenbecker who owns the winery with his wife Jenny. “Those chosen for the 2019 competition are some of the most popular at the winery and those sold through retail outlets and to restaurants,” says Ellenbecker. 

Ellenbecker explained that an FLIWC medal distinguishes a wine as having exceptional quality and excellence. “We are competing with some of the best and biggest US wineries like E & J Gallo and but also global wineries from Israel, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Northern climates like Minnesota and New York compare in sunlight, and to an extent climate, to places like Northern France and Germany where we know good wine comes from. Competitions like this, and the ability to purchase on-line, make the world of wine a much more local place for everyone to enjoy.” 

Round Lake Vineyards & Winery adds Executive Chef


Executive Chef Brendan Waltz has joined Round Lake Vineyards & Winery just in time to develop the new summer menu, which starts May 1. Owner Scott Ellenbecker said, "We've been increasing our food offering every summer since we opened and it's time again to raise the bar. We are lucky to get Brendan onboard so he can take charge of our new menu for the busy season."
Chef Waltz brings experience from 15 years working in Omaha, Sioux City and Okoboji at world-class establishments such as Regency Hotel, Crave, Kahill's and most recently Minerva's, so diners can be assured of the high-quality menu.

Waltz is looking forward to some in-depth time in the kitchen with the winery's extended summer hours. "Building relationships with the community of people eating here is one of the things i enjoy most. I've always loved the creativity of food, trying new flavor combos and experimenting. When I was a kid, I played with my food and I still do." Although now the focus is on pairing food with wine.

Ellenbecker said, "We are foremost a winery, although we serve a full bar and non-alcoholic beverages, we focus on the tastes and flavors that make wine and food work so well together."

Working at a winery gives Waltz another level of flavor pairing that he has embraced. "Discovering wine and learning how flavors marry together is something everyone can benefit from. There is no right or wrong to food or wine, it's understanding what makes each other pop. I will be serving complex but approachable food - what I like to think of as classics that I've reworked and presented in a new and stunning way."

His personal favority wines from Round Lake Vineyard & Winery are Marquette, LaCrescent and The Gander. Waltz said, "It really depends on what I'm eating, but Marquette seems to pair well with almost anything."

In addition to serving through The Bistro at Round Lake Vineyards & Winery, Waltz will create menus and help execute special events such as weddings and meetings for larger groups at the winery's event facility, The Cellar.


Round Lake Vineyards & Winery began planting grapes in 2007 and today is a destination winery open seven days a week. The tasting room is open to the public and tours are offered daily. The winery offers event space for groups from 25 to 300. The winery is located 5 miles south of I-90, just three hours from the Minnesota Metro Area and one hour from Sioux Falls, SD. To learn more about Round Lake Vineyards & Winery or how its wines are crafted, contact the Marketing & Brand Manager Vanessa Moore, at The winery is located at 30124 State Highway 264, Round Lake, MN 56167.