... I'm back. I couldn't do it. I tried to stop, but too much guilt. The Iowa wineries blog must go on. First of all, big news in Iowa wine world (Upper Mississippi River Valley -- including Iowa -- is new AVA, American Viticulture Area) at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/wire/chi-ap-us-fea-food-bigwinec,0,7376110.story; check out the serious government info at this link to the Federal Register: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-14574.pdf.
Okay, a little quick catching up. In our frantic effort to finish the Heart of Iowa Wine Trail before the end of the year, Heidi and I took a weekend in early December to chop away at the list. On December 6 and 7 we visited Southern Hills Winery in Osceola, Two Saints Winery in St Charles (love love the logo!), La Vida Loca in Indianola (this guy is a little crazy -- but great fun to talk to!), Dale Valley in Stuart (probably the best white wine I've found in Iowa so far), Summerset in Indianola, and Penoach (Pin Oak) in Adel. We spent the night in Osceola. Whew. Just two more to go!
I was determined not to blog anymore at that time, so didn't take any notes, though I did take a few pics, I think. Let's see what I can dig up. And, if I can remember how to post them, ugh. It's been eight months.
Okay, well first of all -- best and weirdest, this was the view from Southern Hills, right in the back yard of Terrible's Casino. Though we did not go gambling. This big neon guy was sort of scary. Our motel was not far from here and there was a nice little place for breakfast the next morning, just across the parking lot. Heidi ordered pancakes and they were big. This, I remember. What I ate, I know not.
I'll just add in a pic or two from each of the wineries. Alas, I can't even remember off-hand the order in which we did them. The first two are Southern Hills, our last Saturday visit, just at dusk and before heading to the motel. I remember we were the only customers, it was a quite large and new-ish place, and the young lady working was definitely just doing her job, nothing vested in the operation here. Not that fun.
These next two are from Dale Valley. Looking at the pics reminds me that this was a very fun place. It's in an old one-room school building. One of the walls (in the photo) had an interesting history, too. I believe the blackboard there is original to the old school -- people sign their names and write notes. The lady was lots of fun to talk to! I wish I could remember which wine it was I so enjoyed later; I believe it was their Country Parrish.
Next on our list that weekend is La Vida Loca. This was a pretty memorable place. This guy makes wine out of all sorts of unimaginable things, including garlic and jalapeno peppers. I tasted the jalapeno wine -- it was startling. Seriously. He suggested people mostly use it to cook with. What a bite. I did buy one bottle from La Vida Loca, one of my obligation purchases, and I find today, July 26, 2009, it is the only bottle I have left from that trip. It is La Vida Loca Red, and of course I bought it because it was drinkable, at least. But I've been scared actually to open it. Maybe I'll set it out and make it next.
I believe Two Saints has my most favorite logo/label of all the wineries we've visited so far, sweet and simple and clear. The winery was also fun, new building, the lady was interesting to talk to, the wines were okay -- although I believe the one I bought is the one I left until early this summer to open, and I ended up having to dump it; it didn't "age" well. Two Saints does have their own vineyards, too.
Summerset doesn't hold any fond memories. In fact, it barely holds any memories at all. I think it was very retaily. Here is the winery building and a photo of Heidi browsing the wines. This is why it wasn't good to stop blogging. I certainly can't make any comments on the wines so late after our visits.
Finally, there was Penoach. Penoach, I remember, was very busy; I think they were having a celebration of some sort. They had good dip and crackers! Don't know about the wine. :( They also had an extremely cool old silo on the farm (see pics), designed to let air in but keep moisture out with very creative bricks.
Tick tock tick tock, wine trail passport must be filled by December 31. Time is running short ...