Well hello there friends! Is everyone having a good weekend? The weather has been unbelievably gorgeous here in MN this weekend and I am loving every second of it. I took a day off from the blog yesterday so I have some catching up to do these next couple of days.
Let’s rewind to Friday afternoon.
Dana and I had a date night planned. We had received a gift certificate for our wedding from our friend’s Tim and Heidi to a unique little Vineyard called Vino in the Valley. This destination is located in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin in the Rush River Valley and it is going to receive rave reviews from me.
But first…we begin with our journey to Wisconsin at 4:30 pm because it was about an hour and 15 minute drive and we wanted to be able to enjoy some “light” time in the Valley before the sun went down.
On our drive we saw a whole lot of farmland…
Crossed over the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers…
And were welcomed to Wisconsin…
From then on the views just got better and better. The bluffs were beautiful. The leaves are beginning to change colors and the way the sun was beating on them they just looked gorgeous.
This photo below is the driveway leading into Vino in the Valley and you can see what I mean by the picturesque bluffs.
We pulled into the gravel driveway and upon arrival were greeted by a sweet man sampling different local cheeses (we are in Wisconsin after all), next to that was a honey stand, as well as a mini market with pumpkins and watermelon. We sampled some cheese and made our way to make reservations for dinner.
At 5:45 when we made our dinner reservations, we were told it would be a 45-60 minute wait. This was completely fine since neither of us were very hungry yet and we had plenty of wine and views to take in while we waited.
Not to mention there was live music! They had a quaint little gazebo nestled in the middle of the action where three men were singing and playing live. That night Vino in the Valley was hosting the Riddle Brothers and they were definitely fun to watch. I really enjoy live music!
The whole set-up is open air from the dining area to the bar to the music, etc. Dana and I made our way to the bar and ordered a bottle of their house red wine called Rush River Red .
We learned that they although they have a vineyard, they don’t actually produce their own grapes. The original plan was to grow their own grapes and use them to make their own wine. This process usually takes 3-5 years, because you have to wait for the grapes to reach a perfect mature stage. However, the bartender was telling us that there was a terrible flood last year (or the year before?) that completely washed away all that had been developed. They had to start over basically and now it sounds like they may never harvest their own grapes. I am not sure if the soil was denatured or what. I have absolutely no idea. I hope their grapes will still flourish, but either way I know this place will do well.
So although they can’t produce their own grapes at this time, they still continue to make their own wine, they just import grapes from local growers. I’m all about keeping it local and cutting down on fuel emissions and air pollutants!
The vineyards are very pretty and reminded me a lot of our honeymoon in Italy.
Dana and I walked along the vineyards (mind you we were battling many-a-gnats), and I discovered that I can’t walk and carry a glass of wine without spilling. Remember my little episode at the Healthy Living Summit in Boston? Well, I couldn’t help but realize that I don’t walk very gracefully because my wine always seems to spill over the sides. Luckily I wasn’t wearing a khaki skirt this time. We decided to end our walk and just enjoy the live music while we waited for dinner.
It was a good thing I wasn’t wearing a skirt because man, once that sun went down it dropped about 20 degrees.
The atmosphere really changed once the sun began to set. They have two bonfire pits on site so they got those roaring, they eventually brought in space heaters into the restaurant, of course they turned some more lights on, and the atmosphere became very warm and cozy (albeit it wasn’t very warm temperature wise). I learned real quickly that I wasn’t dressed appropriately. I should have known better.
***Note: bring an extra sweater or jacket when you go!
Once we were seated inside the restaurant, we got to browsing the menu.
We decided on two side salads and to split a 10-inch gluten-free pizza. We built our own and went with chicken, spinach, black olives, and tomato with a red sauce. I was very impressed they had gluten-free crust available.
While we waited for our dinner to arrive we took in the views, sipped our wine, and sang “That’s Amore” led by a MC type of guy working for Vino in the Valley. He went around the restaurant announcing any birthdays or anniversaries that were being celebrated. It made for a very fun and friendly atmosphere. He would only talk for about 5 minutes every hour or so, so you didn’t feel like your dinner was being interrupted or anything. It was just friendly.
They brought us out a bread basket with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and pepper. I passed on the bread but Dana enjoyed a couple of slices and said it was good!
At this point in the game I was still feeling chilled but not too terribly yet.
Then came the salads. A simple salad with mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, onions, and carrot served with a side of raspberry vinaigrette. I really liked the dressing. I cleaned my plate.
To the left of where I was sitting was the wood fire oven where the pizzas were being made. Pretty neat looking!
While we waited for our pizza, the sun went down completely. This is when the heat lamps were brought out. Unfortunately for us, they weren’t brought over by our table and I got very cold. Again, my fault for not dressing appropriately but it’s hard knowing exactly how cold it will get when you leave your house and its 75°!
Anyway, our pizza came out of the oven and was so tasty. I could really taste the difference from the wood fire stove. It tasted slightly smoky. The sauce was great too.
Before we left we made our way into the gift shop and bought ourselves a bottle of the house red wine to take home with us.
I cannot say enough good things about this place. If you are looking for a unique dining experience full of cozy and romantic ambiance (yet kid-friendly too), great entertainment (they even have bean bag toss set up and some other yard games), gorgeous views, friendly staff, nummy wine, and wonderful food, this is the place for you.
Dana and I had such a great date night and obviously HIGHLY recommend this destination to any of my local readers. It’s worth the hour and 15 minute jaunt.
I am not going to go into a Saturday recap today but definitely had a very productive day yesterday. I spent a good portion of the day in the kitchen, and will be sharing some recipes with you soon. For now though, I am heading to the gym and plan to bombard my house with Fall decorations this afternoon.
Excited to catch up with you all again! Much love….