Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Great River Road Wine Trail, plus a Brewery

I had previously told you about the little mini-vacation my husband and I took going trout-fishing into the National Eagle Center and this was also part of that mini vacation to celebrate his birthday. We visited 4 places that made wine, cider, or beer. The above collages of some of the things we tried at each of the four places.

 This is Villa Bellezza. It is in Pepin Wisconsin. We had no idea what to expect from this place when we drove to it because the ad was very basic in the Guidebook and did not have pictures of the facility. But when we got there we were surprised to see that it was just gorgeous and looked like a mini Napa right in Wisconsin. Who knew? I will have more pictures of the grounds of this place in a wordless Wednesday post on Save Green Being Green in July. There was a wedding going on in the reception hall but we could walk around the grounds and see what they had their including a fountain and big Plaza area separate buildings for wine making and a lot of vines as well as a tasting room and they were in the process of construction of a restaurant on site. It is a pretty neat place. We did the wine sampling for $5 that includes your choice of three wines. And you also get to sample the wine of the month for free.
Next we drove about a half hour to go to Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery. One of the owners who was on site distributing free samples. They sell their own cider and wine as well as wines from other Midwest wineries. They also have a little gift shop there as well. The wine and cider tasting they offer for free includes five different samples. Since we were there we only wanted to try the things they made because we could try wines from other wineries at their location if we wanted to. We ended up buying a few bottles at this place.
This is just a picture of where they do the brewing at Maiden Rock. It is right off of The Tasting Room.
Next up was the Red Wing Brewery. We needed to get some food in our stomachs and the Red Wing Brewery is also a restaurant as well as growing their own beer and root beer. My husband tried a couple of the beers and I had the root beer. They were okay not spectacular, but what we really enjoyed was there homemade pizza that they use brewer's yeast in the crust. This is definitely something to check out if you are in Red Wing Minnesota.
Lastly as we were making our lop and starting to head back for home we went to Cannon River Winery. This place actually stays open quite late compared to all of the rest so we were able to go here and buy a sweet red as an after-dinner drink. Here we bought a bottle and had it while we were there. We have been to Cannon River Winery a couple times before and have done the same thing so we didn't feel the need to do it again. It was quite busy when we were there with a wedding upstairs and lots of groups of people enjoying wine on the main level. This is in Cannon Falls Minnesota

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rice Lake State Park in Owatonna, Minnesota

A couple weeks we decided to spend the afternoon out at Rice Lake State Park, which is just outside Owatonna, Minnesota. It is not a huge state park, but has manageable trails for hiking with kids and ample opportunities to observe a variety of different kinds of water fowl. They do have a couple of displays up that tell what typical water fowl visit Rice Lake and how to tell the difference between males and females. I am not really a bird person, maybe when I get older, but I can see why people find bird fascinating.

There were plenty of spring wild flowers in bloom. We were hoping to spot some morels while we were here, but were not lucky.

They do have an old school playground here that the kids like. So many playgrounds are big colorful plastic things, that these old ones are a bit more interesting.

They do have camping here - some campsites even overlook the lake, but we only came for the day. We have a State Park sticker on our vehicle (actually, we bought 2 so we have them on a vehicle at home and at the cabin) so we can just drive in for no additional fee, but otherwise it's only $5 for a vehicle admission.

They have quite a few canoes to rent here and 2 kayaks. We have been canoeing here a couple times and it is best to go in the spring or early summer, but late summer and into fall the reeds are too thick that it is hard to get out there.

This is not a deep lake, I think they say it is 3 feet deep across the whole thing. So there is no swimming here. But there is only one property on the lake besides state park, so it is very quiet and you will enjoy the serenity. In the winter they have groomed cross country skiing trails here and year round there are hiking club trails here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The National Eagle Center and Trout Fishing

My husband recently had a milestone birthday and to celebrate the kids went to the In-laws and we had a weekend to ourselves. Today I am going to share with you a couple of things we did on the east side of Minnesota. Next week I will share with you the three wineries and one brewery that we went to on the east side of Minnesota and west side of Wisconsin. We also did those that same weekend.

The first thing we did was actually go trout fishing for a while at a designated trout stream just outside of Zumbro Falls. This was actually the first time we have ever gone stream trout fishing. Just so you know, you do need a trout stamp on your fishing license in the state of Minnesota, which we have. The stream was incredibly clear and we could see a lot of these tiny baby trout swimming around down the stream. However, I didn't catch anything. Maybe next time. It was a beautiful stream to fish in and see the beginning of Spring.

We also went to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha Minnesota. It is wonderfully affordable attraction that is a nonprofit organization. If you do go to this, make sure you plan enough time so you can watch the show, that is really the highlight of the center. We went there in the spring obviously but they said if we were to come back in the winter there are as many as ten times as many Eagles that call this stretch of the Mississippi River their winter home that fly self to Minnesota from Alaska and Canada. We want to take the kids back there sometime in the winter so we can see all of the Eagles there. It was still pretty amazing to see the half-dozen we did flying overhead as we were crossing the bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin.

They do have their own resident eagles that no longer able to be in the wild because they no longer can fly because of injuries. They have them in a room and you can see them and only be about six feet away from them. It is pretty neat to be up that close to them. We have also seen and Eagle at the Zollman Zoo in Byron. At the National Eagle Center they had two bald eagles and one golden eagle that were for viewing. They brought in another bald eagle for the class presentation. Plus they mentioned a few other eagles that they must have housed somewhere else in the facility. The building is beautiful and they have a fountain that wasn't on but I can only imagine looks gorgeous once it is running. The national Eagle Center overlooks the Mississippi River which is an awesome site.