This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. We took a break from weekly stops due to the pandemic, but we will highlight outdoor activities that don't conflict with health and safety recommendations.
An afternoon visit to three western Wisconsin wineries would be a good way to sample a variety of wines, enjoy the scenery and drive some beautiful country roads.
Though Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery, Villa Bellezza Winery and Danzinger Vineyards all serve wine, a visit to each is a different experience.
Located 30 minutes from Red Wing and 45 minutes from River Falls, Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery would be a good place to start.
From County Road E, the lane into Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery is lined with rows of apple trees, each marked with the type of apple growing in that row. A picnic table under a large shade tree welcomes visitors to the main building where, at the back of the salesroom, vats each containing 1,000 gallons of apple cider are stored.
“We are the only cidery on the Great River Road Wine Trail,” owner Herdie Baisden said. “We are able to grow fruit and use it in making cider.”
Baisden and his wife, Carol Wiersma, explain on their website that the goal is: “Presenting a unique collection of premium hard ciders and wines -- produced from fresh, local fruit -- flavored by Wisconsin.”
The second stop at Villa Bellezza is a short 12 minutes away, but visitors may feel like they have flown to Europe.
While working in the tasting room, Kelly Englerth said visitors to the winery on the edge of Pepin, Wisconsin, enjoy not only the wine, but also the experience.
“Just look at the place,” she said. “It is like a little Italy.”
In addition to the vineyard and tasting room, owners Derick and Julianne Dahlen have created the Piazza, a large outdoor sitting area, and the Il Forno Ristorante, an Italian restaurant next door.
From Villa Bellezza to the third stop, Danzinger Vineyards, it is a 30-minute drive along the shore of Lake Pepin.
Danzinger Vineyards is on the bluffs above Alma, Wisconsin, and their vineyard is across the road from the tasting room and pavilion. Two outdoor terraces are on the west side of the main building, and they overlook the valleys and Mississippi River.
Visitors enjoy the wine and the view, said Lynn Bennett, who works in the tasting room. "The two compliment each other so well."
All three wineries rely heavily on local and regional fruits and offer a wide variety of wines — far too many to explain in one article. They provide tastings and plenty of advice about making wine selections.
Find a designated driver and enjoy a day on the roads through Wisconsin’s bluff country.
If you go...
Name: Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery
Address: W12266 King Lane, Stockholm
Name: Villa Bellezza
Address: 1420 Third St., Pepin, Wis.
Email: use form on website
Name: Danzinger Vineyards
Address: S2015 Grapeview Lane, Alma, Wis.
All three wineries have seasonal hours, so be sure to check websites before visiting.
Information about the Great River Road Wine Trail, a longer wine tour that visits 10 wineries is available at https://www.greatriverroadwinetrail.org.