Does anyone have a good recommendation for a place to go wine tasting? It is for a group of approximately 12 people. Something outside of the cities is fine but we'd prefer a drive of an hour or less each way from downtown Minneapolis. We would be going during the afternoon, and I'd like to find a spot comfortable enough to spend a few hours there. I'm open to restaurant, wien bar, or vineyard settings but would prefer something with a bit of character!
Depending on what your objectives are, there are many options. There are local wineries within an hour drive (a Google search will reveal many). The State Fair is going on right now, and in the Agriculture/Horticulture building you will find an opportunity to taste many local wines.
There are also many wine bars around. You can search Metromix to perhaps find one that has a vibe you prefer. I like Toast, Beaujos, and Lucia's.
Restaurants often sponsor wine dinners. Check out localwineevents.com for a current list of what's coming up.
Finally, if you want something in your (or someone else's home), some retailers and wholesalers could help you out, and provide someone to lead the tasting for you. There are also some individuals who happend to do this on their own.
I took my own advice today and went out to the Sovereign Estates Vineyard. They were serving wood-fired pizza with a bottle of their Tenuta di Sovrano Red Wine which is Chianti like. We spent a lazy afternoon on their outdoor patio. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It is about the closest winery to our house.