Two weekends ago we hit the vineyards of NEO with our friends (more specifically the Madison/Geneva area).
We started off with lunch and tasting trays at Debonne Vineyards. The food was okay, but the wine was excellent. Brad and I had “paninis” which were more like melt-style sandwiches and they were good. Our friend Tyler had a Chicago-style hot dog and reported that it was okay. Natalie ordered a burger and it was not good. Since they were grilling it in the outdoor pavilion, we saw how they cooked it and if I’ve learned anything from Brad’s and my reality TV guilty pleasure Bar Rescue, you should not be cooking a burger under a dome the way that they did.
But the wine was the main attraction here. I discovered that even though I love blueberries, I do not like blueberry in my wine. Peach Grigio is a whole different story though! A couple of my favorites that we tasted were the Razzbery Rieseling and the Peach Tree Grigio, the River Blanc was also very good.
We went down the road a bit to the Red Eagle Distillery, which is NOT a winery, but was still pretty cool. It’s an old barn that was converted into a distillery where they distill whiskey, bourbon and vodka. The atmosphere was cool and the cocktail menu looked amazing.
Then we went across the street to M Cellars, which has an amazing patio and the ladies pouring were probably the most calm and competent on a day that seemed busy for all the places we visited. I ordered a glass of Dry Rose and our friend bought a bottle of a sweet wine. The Rose was great to sip and we spent a long time enjoying the sunshine and breeze on the patio surrounded by grape vines. Since we were soaking up the remainder of summer, we didn’t spend any time inside, but M Cellars would be cozy in the fall to sit around the fireplace.
After M Cellars, we went to South River Vineyard which used to be a church. The atmosphere was unique and this place was rather busy. We tasted their two ice wines while sitting in old pews then wanders outside to what I can only describe as a terrace. It was definitely not a patio. South River Vineyards has this huge, Greek-style terrace area that overlooks the vineyards.
I solemnly swear to stop taking pictures through car windows…
They have some strong words for wine glass thieves!
At the recommendation of a friend we stopped by Harpersfield, which looks like a tiny cottage with a garden tucked into the grape vines. We were looking forward to sharing a tasting flights, but they had run out of flight trays. Since we didn’t really feel like trying to pick one wine for a glass each, we decided to leave and will have to try Harpersfield another day.
We decided that we could have actually parked between the arbors!
We went to Ferrante for dinner to round out our day. Most of the wineries don’t have “real food” but offer small cheese plates, etc. We wandered the gift shop while waiting on our table, it was full of wine-themed things including glasses, stoppers, specialty towels, wine soaps and lotions. When we were seated we each ordered a glass of wine and a meal. I had glass of riesling and the Romano Crusted Chicken Salad. The decor at Ferrante may be a little stuck in the 90s, but the food and wine were fantastic.
One of the things I love about living here is that it’s not far to find a unique afternoon experience!
What’s your favorite type of wine?
How did you say farewell to summer?