If you are considering a wedding at a winery, you have to check out Chankaska Creek Ranch Winery & Distillery! Their sprawling property is nestled in a secluded pocket of Southern Minnesota with gorgeous sunset views and several ceremony and reception location options — plus, you and your guests will love their delicious wine. We talked to Cynthia, their Director of Events, about the history of this modern wedding venue and why it’s a perfect spot for weddings.
Q: Let’s get to it, what’s your business’ specialty?
A: We are a wedding venue at a Winery & Vineyard! We have two reception spaces and three ceremony spaces throughout our grounds privately set apart by woods, vines and Chankaska Creek!
Q: Where can we find you?
A: We are in the small town of Kasota, MN between Mankato and St. Peter which is just a short drive of 1.5 hours from the heart of the Cities!
Q: Tell us when and how Chankaska began.
A: Chankaska has been in business for 10 years! We planted our first vines in 2009 and opened our doors for the first time in 2012. We started with our Tasting Room and Tent Reception space and since then in 2018 have expanded and built our Spirits Room & Event Center!
Q: What makes your company unique from others?
A: Chankaska’s atmosphere reflects Italian/European aesthetics while embodying our Minnesota traditions by accents of Kasota Stone around the grounds. There are few Vineyards within the Southern MN Area, so our Winery and Vines really attract couples and amazing photo opportunities.
Q: How long have you been in the industry? What do you think has changed the most since then?
A: I have been in the industry for 6-7 years and since then I have seen shorter engagements and dessert traditions change. I have seen a 3-tiered cake go from the most popular faze into more individualized items, such as cupcakes for a more grab-and-go with no cake cutting needed, or more unique items like donuts, macarons, dilly bars, etc.
Q: Walk us through your average workday.
A: Typically, on the weekdays I work later into the evenings so I will arrive late morning to do my office/administrative work, catching up on emails and phone calls along with meetings as well. Then I will end my workday with a tour, meeting, or a glass of wine with a co-worker or two 😊 On weekends, if I am the main contact I will be onsite to greet our couples in the morning and stay throughout the evening to ensure everyone is happy and everything is running smoothly! Wedding days are filled with helping with last-minute needs, getting the guests to the right locations, ensuring the bar is ready and always stocked, and that all vendors can come to me with any needs! The best part of the night is taking the photographer(s) and if there is a videographer to the large vines with our couple to get the stunning golden hour photo’s during sunset. It is a perfect reflection time to get away from all the hustle and bustle and let the day soak in for the couple 😊
Q: What is the history behind your venue?
A: Our Owners Kent & Jane Schwickert have a passion for food and wine and have traveled to Italy and other places around the world and fell in love. Inspired by their travels they planted our first vines in 2009 and opened Chankaska Creek Ranch Winery & Distilleries Tasting Room in 2012. Events were an important part of the business plan and from the beginning, they had them in mind to host weddings and other events such as concerts, corporate parties, social parties and more! In 2012 Chankaska started with Creekside Tent as a wedding venue space, along with the three ceremony space options. Our winery expanded since then by becoming a Micro Distillery where we offer a variety of spirits. Chankaska quickly expanded with the addition of our Spirits Room and Event Center.
Q: What would you want couples searching for their wedding venue to know?
A: Don’t overwhelm yourself! There are SO MANY beautiful venues to choose from. Do your research and choose your top few to really dive into to learn more about, then do tours with only a couple people. If you hit it off with your venue coordinator, or it just feels right, go with your gut 😊
Q: How far in advance should a couple book with you?
A: A year and a half is best, but if you’re flexible on your dates and months, I am able to find a date for you!
Q: What is the biggest crowd-pleaser at your venue?
A: That’s a hard one, I think the top crowd pleaser would have to be our grounds! There is so much of it! Three outside ceremony spaces surrounded by plant life, vines, a creek that rolls down the middle of our grounds, and endless walking areas for photos!
Q: What are your other hobbies and passions besides creating beautiful wedding days?
A: I do love to be outside and spend time with friends! Anytime there is a concert, and I can attend I try to! Does shopping count as a hobby? I’m always buying new décor for my house or shopping for new cute outfits 😊 I currently started a podcast where I talk about life and wedding planning with a fellow wedding venue manager, so that keeps me very busy! Check it out “The Corner Booth Podcast”.
Q: Do you have any favorite podcasts?
A: Shameless plug, but I’d have to say mine! The Corner Booth Podcast where I talk about life and weddings with Megan, the Manager at The Capitol Room! I also love listening to “Crime Junkie” and my favorite comedian Heather McMahan “The Absolutely Not Podcast”!
Q: Who’s your most played artist on your streaming service?
A: I am not even sure how to check my most played! I’m sure if I did it would say Morgan Wallen 😊
Q: Heels or flats?
A: Love me a Heel, but I run around too much! So flats!
Q: Mountains or Beach?
A: Mountain to live in- beach to vacation
Q: Go-to cocktail (or mocktail)?
A: Espresso Martini
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A Veterinarian!
Q: You’re at brunch. Are you going for something sweet or savory?
Q: Go-to comfort food?
A: Chicken & Potatoes
Q: Duck Duck Grey Duck or Duck Duck Goose?
A: Hands down, Duck Duck Grey Duck!
To book your tour and see Chankaska Creek for yourself in person, reach out to Cynthia on their website here!