Our Story

"I met Steve Zeller on a paddle tennis court," recalls Lin Deardorff, one of the principal owners of Parley Lake Winery. "And away we went." 

Parley Lake Winery was established in 2008 at Deardorff Orchards & Vineyards by Lin & Bonnie Deardorff and Steve & Deb Zeller.

The first commercial season for the winery in 2009 is remembered quite fondly. "We sold out of our La Crescent in two days, Parley Vu Rose in four days and closed just eight weeks after opening as we had sold most of our wine," the Zellers recall.

With both couples interest and appreciation for wine and grapes, its was only natural that chance meeting on the paddle tennis court would keep Lin and Steve in contact over the years.

Lin, along with his wife Bonnie, continued growing and selling a variety of apples, including the Honeycrisp Apple at Deardorff Orchards which they began in 1981. Steve and Deb both continued working their daytime jobs at Rosemount and spent a couple years abroad in Germany. 

Meanwhile, a few miles from Deardorff Orchards, the University of Minnesota was developing cold hardy Minnesota grapes. The Frontenac grape was introduced in 1996, La Crescent in 2002, Frontenac Gris in 2003 and Marquette in 2006. As more varieties were introduced so grew the number of wineries in Minnesota. And in 2005, the Deardorffs and Zellers began planting cold hardy grapes that in three years would become the wine for Parley Lake Winery (named after the lake that is adjacent to the property).

Today, the vineyard consists of seven acres made up of the Marquette grape, Frontenac grape, Frontenac Gris grape and La Crescent grape. Parley Lake Winery will also be planting the Itasca grape, introduced by the University of MN in 2016. Wine from this grape will be on the tasting menu in 2020.

A Little Snapshot In Time

We Do Stay Busy...

Steve is head Winemaker, while still continuing his day job as Global Director of Real Estate for Donaldson. Lin oversees growing operations of the vineyard and orchard; he also heads up the distribution of our wine to local liquor stores. Deb, the integral force behind the winery's brand and early-on marketing, lends her artistic talents to the winery: creating the Goddess of the Grapes bronze statue that greets guests when they arrive at the tasting room, drawing portraits of guests throughout the season and organizing local artist events and the winery's Sculpture Stroll in collaboration with Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery. And Bonnie's green thumb creates the beautiful gardens out and around the tasting room grounds and she also continues to help organize Apple Pick'n Days, a weekend-long fundraiser for Children's Hospital at the orchard.