Wisconsin’s Culture - Vino & the Valleys
Here comes some touring and culinary fun! Two wonderful restaurants, two terrific drives to get there, fabulous views from both locations, splendid hospitality and eatery. Let me introduce you to “Vino Over The Valley” near Arcadia, and “Vino In The Valley” near Maiden Rock. I’ve been to both and all I can say is I’m going back to both and enjoy life!
Vino over the Valley
A friend introduced me to Vino Over the Valley. It is on Hwy 95 about five mikes west of Arcadia and nine miles or so northeast of Fountain City, smack-dab in the Western Uplands Geographic Province .
The Western Uplands’ Province is a rugged hilly region with many rivers and streams cutting through it, rocky outcroppings and numerous caves, simply a beautiful area of the state.
Vino Over the Valley takes advantage of that kind of geography by providing you a location to enjoy “dinner with a view.”
And, if you would like a more informal setting, Larry Brenner, the owner, has Larry’s Lookout right next door.
It is a typical and lovely Wisconsin tavern. I met Larry there. He is a riot, a most affable fellow. He told me he first built the Lookout and worked it until he could afford to build Vino Over the Valley. Great guy, great place.
Highway 95 winds its way through the valleys of the Uplands amidst a lot of corn. Keep your eyes peeled for this sign alongside the road!
Vino In the Valley
Larry Brenner also owns Vino In the Valley. I believe this was his first such endeavor. It is about 9 miles north of Maiden Rock. Finding it will test your navigational skills . I found it with minimum instructions and the help of two guys out in the woods from Minnesota!
Drive west on Hwy 10 from Plum City or east from Ellsworth. Keep your eyes open. This is wonderful country, densely wooded. Take A critical turn to the north on 400th Street, a right if coming from Plum City, a left if coming from Ellsworth. You will drive a little over one mile along what is the Rush River. The Rush River is a 50 mile long tributary of the Mississippi River, one of those many rivers in the Uplands that cuts through the ridges and valleys.
Now you really have to pay attention. You want to turn right on 450th Avenue. The tell-tale signal to do that is to look to the right when you see a road that crosses the Rush River.
You will come upon Vino In the Valley on your left, about 0.3 miles from the turn. Drive in. It is a very short drive to get into the complex. Have fun!
Once you get out of your car, you will see you are in a valley, the Rush River Valley, enclosed on three sides by ridges, and surrounded by an emerging vineyard.
I must say finding this magnificent place is exhilarating after driving through all that beautiful but quite rural country. Here you see the wine bar. The Rush River Tree Farm, part of the overall complex, is a place where people can cut their Christmas tree. The vineyard is adjacent to the Rush River.
The vineyard has been planted but as of 2021 is not yet producing. Vines planted include three red –Frontenac, Sabrevois, Marquette – and three white – Frontenac Gris, La Crescent, and Prairie Star.
In the mean time, Vino In the Valley buys Regionally grown grapes from local growers through the Minnesota Winegrower’s Cooperative and has contracted with Cannon River Winery to create three types of wines for the Vino in the Valley private label: white, blush, and red.
As a relevant aside, Larry bought Larry’s Lookout from Guy and Nancy Hansen, who had operated “Hansen’s Hold Up” for 20 years. They served “a mix of locals and travelers great food and drink accompanied by a breathtaking view.” Larry intends to continue that tradition.