The winery that keeps on going

Forsee Vineyards and Winery

18165 North 4th Avenue

Coffeen, IL 62017

(217) 534-6347

 http://www.forseevineyards.com/

Hours of Operation:
Thursday – Sunday
Noon to 10PM, year-round

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Location, Arrival, & Lodging:
It’s a normal midwest drive for me to see mostly fields and not much along the interstate.  So, as you wind through the country it’s a WOW moment when you pull around the corner to see this diamond in the field.  The winery building has a lot of character and charm to it all alone.  Then to see it sitting among a beautiful vineyard in the country was just wonderful!  It was a nice surprise.  There’s hotel lodging in a local town if you’re traveling from afar which I would recommend to stop in Forsee to see for yourself!

Staff and Service:
Everyone we met was very friendly.  The bartender Lisa who assisted us with our wine tastings was very knowledgeable and helpful.  Anything that she couldn’t answer she asked someone else who did know.
Samples were unlimited and free and if you let her know you’re likes she was kind to lead you to some great recommendations.

Food Offerings: 
Currently they only offer appetizers which with the addition of a new fryer that smell was dominating the tasting area so they are in the midst of adding on again to accommodate a separate kitchen area. This should help with the smell.  They seem to be expanding very nicely.

Amenities & more:
I love the fact there are so many private and secluded areas you can sit and enjoy your wine and friends.  Above the wine tasting bar is a nice open loft with a variety of seating that could hold approximately 24 people and you can look out the front window over the vineyard or out the back window peeking into the wine making facility.  An additional enclosed room with a large television can also be enjoyed all year long with approximately 40 friends.  Lisa told us the outdoor covered deck that they enclosed with vinyl gets them through the cold months with a nice fireplace and heaters you could host a family reunion of about 90 members.  When the weather is nice the multi places to sit outdoors and take it all in is a perfect winery experience in my book.  Its a winery that keeps on going.  Everywhere you look there is a different sitting area. Take your pick!

I can’t wait to go back!

Chrissy’s Crushes:   The ambiance and setting!

View of the winemaking tanks from the upper level window.

 

Lynn’s Vine:

 

Wines and Winery

It’s pretty common to go to an Illinois Winery and find certain grape wines like Norton, Chambourcin, and a blend of the two. In the whites you will find Traminette, Vignoles, and Niagra.  So to find Corot Noir, a dry red, was very unusual.  It is a full bodied red, lightly aged in American Oak which gave it a buttery creaminess. It tasted drier to me than the Norton even though it was only 12% alcohol. It had a very long finish meaning the taste hung on in your mouth.

 

The wines ran between $14.25 to $26 a bottle and $4.25 to $5 a glass. Tastings were free.  The wines I chose to try were:

 

Norton – 2009 -$24 a bottle

It was deep ruby colored, good spice, dry as soon as it hit your mouth but had a nice finish. I enjoyed this Norton the most.

 

Okaw Red – $17 a bottle

Lighter strawberry colored, semi sweet red (12% alcohol), nice but I still enjoyed the peppery Norton better.

 

No. 76 – $15.75 a bottle

Why the number 76 for a grape name? It’s because they haven’t actually named it yet.  Researcher, Bruce Reisch from Cornell University, bred the NY76 grape in 1976. It is known for its winter hardiness and productivity and is similar in characteristics of a Gewurtztraminer or Muscat according to Reisch.  A contest to name it was held up until Aug. 6th and the new name will be released at the Viticulture 2013 Conference in February.

 

This grape is a dry white with a floral and apricot bouquet.  It has a long, dry finish.

 

Traminette –2011- $15.75 a bottle

This semi-sweet is a medium bodied, crisp white that tingles at the end! It is very similar to a German style Riesling. I enjoyed it very much.

 

Vignoles – $15.75 a bottle

Even though this wine is listed as sweet I was a little surprised that it tasted a little drier than expected. I would call it a semi sweet white. This one is on a limited release so get it now!

 

Niagra – $14.25  a bottle

I am definitely not a Niagra fan so it forces me to try it everywhere I can only because I am looking for that one that I REALLY like! As soon as I smelled this one, I knew it was Niagra.  The only way to know is by doing tastings as often as you can! To a point. Not such a good idea for breakfast though.  Sorry to say I did not enjoy this one like all the rest of the Niagra grapes from around the area. They compare this grape to the white version of the Concord grape.

 

Lynn’s Wins: the 2009 Norton- the dry spicy flavor was nicely balanced and it is the one I ended up with a glass of so it is my win for the day!

Piasa Winery & Pub – a laid back way of life!

Piasa Winery & Pub

225 West Main St

Grafton, IL

http://www.piasawinery.com/index.html

 9/21/12

Saw a paddleboat heading down the river while at Piasa Winery & Pub

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Arrival : Well this was the last stop for the day for the Midwest Winery Gals.  We really enjoyed our travel to Grafton. There’s so much going on when you drive the beautiful quaint town of Grafton that if you aren’t paying attention Piasa Winery & Pub can get mixed in the shuffle, but you need to be looking for this one!!  I had heard Piasa was the first winery in this location and I felt it was important to find it and check it out!! It was well worth the stop.  It sits on the corner and is a small older building that if the walls could talk I bet would have some great stories to tell.  I had to stop for a photo outside just because of curb appeal and it being a fun thing to do.  As you enter it feels like the old time local pub.  A bar, signage all over the walls and some people even stopped to look at who’s walking in.  If you walk beyond that you’ll come to a small tasting bar and seating, then onto the back patio.  Of course our first stop the tasting bar.

Food, Seating & More: They serve up more than just bar food.  You can get different chicken sandwiches, BBQ Pork, Portabella sandwich to blackened catfish. Your seating options are in a small cozy area by the bar or outside on the upper or lower deck.  There was a separate deck that they had a bridal shower at, so definitely room for small private events as well. Live music was provided on that Sunday afternoon. Great atmosphere! You can look onto the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers from almost any seat in or out of the house.

Staff & Tasting:  Tastings were free and you could try their Piasa Wines as well as the large selection of wines from all over the country.  The bartender we had was very pleasant and knowledgeable..

Chrissy’s Crushes: the history
Chrissy’s Score: Two GRAPES!!

Piasa Winery & Pub entry

Lynn’s Wins:

I remember going to Grafton a long time ago and I believe they were located in the stone building next to them that is occupied by Two Rivers Winery now. Not sure why the change but I think they were close to the first winery around this area. I did notice a trend around Grafton and that seems to be a laid back way of life. I felt relaxed the whole weekend here sitting back with a glass of wine, looking at a great view of the river, and seeing all the people walking the streets and laughing and having a good time! We even saw some hula hoopers!

Piasa’s wines were made in nearby Godfrey but are now made at Villa Marie Winery in Maryville. They do have about 15 Piasa wines to choose from but they also have wines from around the world. They also had over 100 different beers to choose from on draft, bottles, and cans.

Wine tastings were complimentary at Piasa.  The server was fun and new the wines well. So being that it was towards the end of a long day I only tried a couple.

They were:

Piasa Norton – $19.95 bottle

Their Nortonis a native varietal wine. It is a wine grape that dates back to Thomas Jefferson at Montecello.  Of course it tastes much better now than 200 years ago. Their Norton was spicy with hints of black cherry, somewhat oaky.  It needs to be paired with a great juicy steak!

Piasa Chambourcin  – $17.95 bottle

It was lighter than the Norton but still dry, buttery like almost creamy, yummy!

Piasa Riverfest –$15.95 bottle

A white, crisp, light, tart but smooth, fruity, almost like a Riesling. Not overly sweet. Refreshing!

They also carried about 12 other Piasa wines and many others like Tomasello’s Broomstick Brew and Vampire for the season.

Lynn’s wins: Piasa Riverfest – 4 Glasses – Goes great on a warm evening sitting behind Piasa overlooking the river.

Saw a Pirate Ship while at Two Rivers Winery

Two Rivers Winery

211 West Main Street

Grafton, IL

(618) 786 – 3934

 http://www.tworiverswineryil.com/Grafton-Winery/index.php

 9/22/12

View from back of winery

By Lynn

Building & Location

The winery is a quaint, rock, old historic building, circa 1840,  nicely redone with a small bar for tasting.  It is located directly on Main Street in the middle of downtown Grafton. Easy find! Most of the seating was outside and plentiful on their decks which overlook where the beautiful Illinois & Mississippi Rivers converge. It was the most perfect day to sit outside and listen to the one man band play oldies and some blues music while watching the boats and barges go down the river.  We even saw what looked like a pirate ship.  Not quite sure what that was.

Food & Beverages

Two Rivers offers light foods like cheese and sausage as well as pizzas. They feature wines from Hopewell Winery in Rockport, Illinois and Villa Marie Winery in Maryville, Illinois but also carry other Illinois and Missouri wines. If you can’t find a local one that you like then try the different wines from around the world. For beer lovers, Two Rivers Winery carries several brands of beer, domestic and micro-brews. A little for everyone!

The owners do not make their own wines yet but after talking with the owner they plan to have an existing Illinois winery help them make wine to label with Two Rivers Winery by next year.

I enjoyed a glass of:

Villa Marie Archview White which is a local wine from Maryville, IL.  It was a semi-dry white with fruit like peach, apple, and pineapple.  It was nice, crisp and a little tart. I tried other national wines but went back to this one.

The workers were very kind and informative when we were doing the tastings. The view was wonderful. Enjoyed the evening at Two Rivers Winery and will certainly go back especially when they get their own wines.

Lynn’s Wins:  Villa Marie Archview White: 3 glasses

Service & Atmosphere:  4 glasses

Wild Experience at the Wild Goose Restaurant

Wild Goose Restaurant

1505 West Main

Grafton, IL

(618) 786-8888

9/23/12

By Lynn

Restaurant Review

What an experience this place was! This is about the only restaurant in town that we know of that serves breakfast.  It was recommended by the waitress at Aerie’s Winery. It was located along the main street on the outskirts of Grafton, IL along the river so it had a beautiful view.  It was built on stilts but handicap accessible. When we walked in we were unsure if we needed to seat ourselves when we heard a yell from the back to have a seat anywhere. OK, so which dirty table do we sit at? We chose a table that sat six people for the two of us since that is the majority that they offered. We asked the waitress to please clean off our table which she continued to clean our two spots on the table. The people at the two tables next to us that came in after us had to push all the dirty stuff on their table to one side to find a clean spot as well. They were busy but not overwhelming busy. The food was your typical eggs, bacon, sausage, and hashbrowns and ranged in price under $8 per plate. It was average tasting. When the waitress served our food she immediately put the bill down.  I guess at that point she was done with us. The bill was not even totaled plus we were charged $.25 for a glass of water. When we paid the bill we asked for a receipt so they tore the bottom of the receipt off with nothing wrote on it. My receipt was a ½ inch by 3” copy of nothing. Hmmm.  What do I do with this? Despite all the circumstances we did still have the view of the Mississippi River.

Service & Overall experience: 1 fork

Food & Pricing: 3 forks

Aerie’s Winery has one of Grafton’s most beautiful views

Aerie’s Winery

600 Timber Ridge

Grafton, IL 62037

618-786-7477

http://www.aerieswinery.com/

Hours:

Sunday – Thursday 12pm-8pm

Friday & Saturday 12pm – 10pm

Open all year.

9/21/12

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Arrival & Lodging Options:
I was told by Aries Winery that we will be turning onto a steep road to lead up to the winery, that was an understatement!! We made the turn and it looked like we were going to drive onto a concrete wall, ha ha!! All I got to say is if ice is in the weather forecast you may want to bring an ice pick and cleats… ha ha
On the steep drive up to the winery you will find fairly new and nice looking condos and rentals on both sides, so I guess if it gets icy once you’re there it’s no problem to find lodging. At the top of the hill the road winds around the main lodge office to check into the lodging accommodations of which you can choose from the rooms above the lodge, cabins or rental apartments.  The lodge is not marked very well, so you may first mistake it for the winery itself, but continue to circle the building and you will drive right between small cabins that are available for rent as well. I found it interesting that all the traffic going to the winery must drive directly thru that area. Walking to the winery is beautiful if you look out onto the bluffs and riverfront. The main entrance of the winery was confusing at first but we figured it out. We walked into a bar area that looks like you could do tastings but we were not offered to do so, past that was seating, then onto the outdoor deck which is where we ended up sitting. WOW! The view is breathtaking and sits approximately 253′ above the flood level of 1993!  In January they said it’s a great view of the eagles from here as well.  What a great patio to visit with friends and sip some wine. They had a guy playing music on the patio below ours and you could hear the music fine but still hold a conversation.

Necessities & Seating & More:
The bathroom although small and nothing fancy was clean!! The lower patio had a bar setting with patio doors that can be opened for the good weather days. Beware before settling in, they only accept cash! We were unaware of this and for someone who never has any on her this was a problem.  Kootos to them knowing how to make money on supply and demand is to have an ATM machine that charges you a $2.50 processing fee!!  After the long drive I first wanted a glass of water which they don’t have, you can buy a bottle of water for a dollar. So, I guess you don’t need to stay hydrated while drinking, or is it another smart supply and demand money making move?? You could come here on a bachelorette/bachelor party or small get together. There’s not a private area but it is cozy and nice with lots of seating options. Besides lodging they do have zip lines over the bluffs. I wasn’t ready to venture there alone but a friend of mine had been there and said it was beautiful and a good safe experience. So, next trip I’m bringing my tennis shoes!! He said it took them approximately three hours with a group of twelve people and then they bus you back to the winery.

Staff:
Our waitress said she was fairly new, but I felt she was very helpful and pleasant along with the rest of the staff!!  That’s always a bonus in my book!

Turkey Burger and Allure Pink Moscato Wine

Food & Stuff:
I had gotten the turkey burger with chips, which was my first turkey burger ever!! It was good and flavorful if you are into turkey. I’m a beef girl so I like the extra juiciness and fat I guess!! I had sampled four different wines with it and my favorite was the Malbec.  I sampled Cari’s bread and oil, which was just delicious, but how can you go wrong with that right?? Also I tasted a piece of Lynn’s Pizza which seemed to be homemade YUM. The crust was crisp and the pizza as a whole was nicely spiced and the cheese was melted nicely. Not that I know anything about cooking, but it was very tasty and went well with all four of my wines!! I was totally looking forward to dessert to be told that they only have cheesecake. They offer turtle cheesecake and regular cheesecake with raspberry drizzle which sounded ok, but I was ready for sugar, chocolate and wonderfulness and the sound of cheesecake didn’t cut it.

So, off we go……
As we left I put my hands in the air as if I was riding a roller coaster. It was that steep and I realized why I was hearing other people leaving hooting and howling. They were enjoying the same feeling I think? It makes a quick turn just like a roller coaster. So the moral of that is first and foremost have a designated driver and don’t go fast if you don’t like roller coasters, ha ha!! There’s no guardrail, so fast is never a good idea!! And make sure you have good brakes for your departure.
Overall a good experience, a nice place to sit on a deck, enjoy some good food & wine in a cozy open setting with an awesome view of the bluffs and rivers.

Chrissy’s Crushes:  The friendly Staff & View

Chrissy’s Score: THREE GRAPES!!

Lynn’s Cottage Stay

Date: 9/21/12

The stay at Aerie’s Winery consisted of two nights on a Friday and Saturday in one of their cottages. When we arrived at the top of the hill we drove around the rental villas that Aerie’s has available as well as the cottages that we chose to stay in for the weekend. The cottages were located along the one way path that led to the winery so traffic was right outside your cottage doors. The parking was very awkward near the cottages since we were on the bluff and the man that parked across the street from us needed to pull out of his spot to let his passenger in otherwise she may have fallen down the cliff.  Thank goodness he was in a truck because as he backed up his vehicle wheel started spinning because of the steep incline. He made it through with four wheel drive.

The cottage was a clean, nice, quaint one room cabin with private bath and what seemed to be a three person Jacuzzi tub. Included was a small kitchenette with no dishes except for two plastic plates and two foam cups. They provided dish soap so I guess you could clean your foam cups! For a winery, I think a nice accessory to include might be two wine glasses. A refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, and toaster were also provided.  A nice touch was two orange juices, and two muffins on the first day only.  The bed consisted of an extremely soft mattress that when you lay in you fall to the middle. I ended up sleeping on the 1990’s sofa that was provided. I was miserable. The next morning when I went to take a shower I realized there was no shower.  For some reason I overlooked that until that point. Their version of a shower was to pull the shower head out of the Jacuzzi tub and hold it in the air to wash your hair while either sitting or standing. Now I know why the floor had a very soft spot next to the tub.  I’m sure the floor was rotting underneath the linoleum. Besides the fact that the whole cottage shook when you walked across the floor, the blinds didn’t work as well. Maintenance was definitely an issue. BUT when you walked down the path to the winery you were overwhelmed with an absolute gorgeous view of the River.

We had a late check in (about 7:00pm) so we went to the front desk at the winery where they took care of our credit card payment signing. They told us what cabin we were in and that was it.  Later, we realized, what time is check out? What do we do with the one key they gave us for checkout? Where do we park? Where can we get breakfast? There was no information available in the cabin either.

Overall the experience at the winery itself was wonderful and relaxing but I would certainly try a different place to stay possibly the villas that they offered or another location.  For $149 a night I feel it was not worth it. I have stayed in much nicer cabins for around $100. On the flip side, I would stop in the winery for a nice, relaxing evening for food and drinks again.

Lynn’s Cottage Stay score: 1 glass

Wine:

(rated by glasses- 5 being best)

I think the  Midwest Winery Gals spent the most time here and how could you not with the absolute beautiful view to enjoy.

Aerie’s doesn’t offer its own wines, but rather offers over 30 wines from California to Australia, ranging from dry to sweet, white, blush, and reds. The beer list is also fairly extensive with an emphasis on local and microbrews and run about $3 a bottle. The winery does not offer wine tastings. It can be ordered by the glass or bottle. Most wines were priced in the low $20’s or $6 a glass. The wines we chose to taste are:

Brassfield Serenity, CA – Golden yellow, heavy bodied with the smell of ripe pear, fruitiness, crisp taste, tangy, long lingering finish which paired well with the Wild Mushroom Pizza. 56% Pinot Grigio, 31% Sauv. Blanc, and 13% Gewurtztraminer. 3 glasses

William Hill Chardonnay, Napa, CA – Greenish hue with pale yellow, medium bodied with the smell of fresh, ripe apricot and peach, nicely oaked, smooth finish. Buttery without being heavy. 4 glasses

Allure Pink Moscato, CA – Blushing rose pink color, medium bodied with a light sparkle, smelled of very ripe berries with a hint of mango, light and refreshing, semi sweet with a short finish. Would go well with a cheese plate or fresh fruit. 3 glasses

Maipe Malbec, Argentina – Garnet colored, fairly heavy bodied with smells of black currants and wood. The mouth feel is peppery, mostly in the middle to the back of the throat however it has a short finish which is surprising. Great on a cool, clear night. would go great with dark chocolate.  3.5 glasses

Lynn’s Wins: William Hill Chardonnay -I normally don’t care for Chardonnay’s, but this one is delicious. 4 glasses

OUR SPECIAL GUEST: CHEF CARI reviews the food at Aerie’s

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted and allowed to find our seats, of which there were plenty of options to choose from.

The menu is divided into appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.  It varied enough to provide something for everyone. One of the companions ordered a standard beef burger cooked medium and it came as requested, juicy and flavorful. The accompanying side order for most of the menu is chips, not fries. the pizza menu has a section entitled “Build Your Own” and includes an extensive list of impressive, non-standard toppings such as pancetta, sweet pickled jalapanos, and sun-dried tomatoes.

From the appetizer selections, we ordered Bread and Oil for $7. It included French Bread with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. The bread was sliced and slightly crisped, but not grilled or toasted (there was no color nor grill marks). That would have been appreciated, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

We also ordered a Turkey Burger ($9), Wild Forest Mushroom Pizza ($9), and Aerie’s signature salad ($5.50). The turkey burger was dry, but that is not surprising- ground turkey has very little fat in it. Perhaps adding some cheese to this burger would enhance it. The pizza was delicious and was just large enough for one person to enjoy alone.  The crust was cooked perfectly and obviously handmade.  The cheese was certainly present, but not overwhelming and the woodiness of the mushrooms came through like a champ. The salad had crisp romaine lettuce, pepperoni, red onions, and cheese.  The choice of dressing for the salad was limited to ranch or raspberry vinaigrette; we chose the latter. Although it wasn’t house made, it was good.

Overall the order arrived within 10 – 15 minutes, was served on nice china, and the ingredients were fresh, crisp, and the quality good. The server was excellent; attentive without being intrusive and knowledgeable about not just the menu and wines but about the full range of services that Aerie’s offers as well.

The bill came to $70 before tip, which included the five menu items, four glasses of wine, and two beers. Overall, its a good value for theprice and the setting and we will definitely return. Thank you Aerie’s for a lovely evening!

Aerie's Winery has one of Grafton's most beautiful views

Aerie’s Winery

600 Timber Ridge

Grafton, IL 62037

618-786-7477

http://www.aerieswinery.com/

Hours:

Sunday – Thursday 12pm-8pm

Friday & Saturday 12pm – 10pm

Open all year.

9/21/12

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Arrival & Lodging Options:
I was told by Aries Winery that we will be turning onto a steep road to lead up to the winery, that was an understatement!! We made the turn and it looked like we were going to drive onto a concrete wall, ha ha!! All I got to say is if ice is in the weather forecast you may want to bring an ice pick and cleats… ha ha
On the steep drive up to the winery you will find fairly new and nice looking condos and rentals on both sides, so I guess if it gets icy once you’re there it’s no problem to find lodging. At the top of the hill the road winds around the main lodge office to check into the lodging accommodations of which you can choose from the rooms above the lodge, cabins or rental apartments.  The lodge is not marked very well, so you may first mistake it for the winery itself, but continue to circle the building and you will drive right between small cabins that are available for rent as well. I found it interesting that all the traffic going to the winery must drive directly thru that area. Walking to the winery is beautiful if you look out onto the bluffs and riverfront. The main entrance of the winery was confusing at first but we figured it out. We walked into a bar area that looks like you could do tastings but we were not offered to do so, past that was seating, then onto the outdoor deck which is where we ended up sitting. WOW! The view is breathtaking and sits approximately 253′ above the flood level of 1993!  In January they said it’s a great view of the eagles from here as well.  What a great patio to visit with friends and sip some wine. They had a guy playing music on the patio below ours and you could hear the music fine but still hold a conversation.

Necessities & Seating & More:
The bathroom although small and nothing fancy was clean!! The lower patio had a bar setting with patio doors that can be opened for the good weather days. Beware before settling in, they only accept cash! We were unaware of this and for someone who never has any on her this was a problem.  Kootos to them knowing how to make money on supply and demand is to have an ATM machine that charges you a $2.50 processing fee!!  After the long drive I first wanted a glass of water which they don’t have, you can buy a bottle of water for a dollar. So, I guess you don’t need to stay hydrated while drinking, or is it another smart supply and demand money making move?? You could come here on a bachelorette/bachelor party or small get together. There’s not a private area but it is cozy and nice with lots of seating options. Besides lodging they do have zip lines over the bluffs. I wasn’t ready to venture there alone but a friend of mine had been there and said it was beautiful and a good safe experience. So, next trip I’m bringing my tennis shoes!! He said it took them approximately three hours with a group of twelve people and then they bus you back to the winery.

Staff:
Our waitress said she was fairly new, but I felt she was very helpful and pleasant along with the rest of the staff!!  That’s always a bonus in my book!

Turkey Burger and Allure Pink Moscato Wine

Food & Stuff:
I had gotten the turkey burger with chips, which was my first turkey burger ever!! It was good and flavorful if you are into turkey. I’m a beef girl so I like the extra juiciness and fat I guess!! I had sampled four different wines with it and my favorite was the Malbec.  I sampled Cari’s bread and oil, which was just delicious, but how can you go wrong with that right?? Also I tasted a piece of Lynn’s Pizza which seemed to be homemade YUM. The crust was crisp and the pizza as a whole was nicely spiced and the cheese was melted nicely. Not that I know anything about cooking, but it was very tasty and went well with all four of my wines!! I was totally looking forward to dessert to be told that they only have cheesecake. They offer turtle cheesecake and regular cheesecake with raspberry drizzle which sounded ok, but I was ready for sugar, chocolate and wonderfulness and the sound of cheesecake didn’t cut it.

So, off we go……
As we left I put my hands in the air as if I was riding a roller coaster. It was that steep and I realized why I was hearing other people leaving hooting and howling. They were enjoying the same feeling I think? It makes a quick turn just like a roller coaster. So the moral of that is first and foremost have a designated driver and don’t go fast if you don’t like roller coasters, ha ha!! There’s no guardrail, so fast is never a good idea!! And make sure you have good brakes for your departure.
Overall a good experience, a nice place to sit on a deck, enjoy some good food & wine in a cozy open setting with an awesome view of the bluffs and rivers.

Chrissy’s Crushes:  The friendly Staff & View

Chrissy’s Score: THREE GRAPES!!

Lynn’s Cottage Stay

Date: 9/21/12

The stay at Aerie’s Winery consisted of two nights on a Friday and Saturday in one of their cottages. When we arrived at the top of the hill we drove around the rental villas that Aerie’s has available as well as the cottages that we chose to stay in for the weekend. The cottages were located along the one way path that led to the winery so traffic was right outside your cottage doors. The parking was very awkward near the cottages since we were on the bluff and the man that parked across the street from us needed to pull out of his spot to let his passenger in otherwise she may have fallen down the cliff.  Thank goodness he was in a truck because as he backed up his vehicle wheel started spinning because of the steep incline. He made it through with four wheel drive.

The cottage was a clean, nice, quaint one room cabin with private bath and what seemed to be a three person Jacuzzi tub. Included was a small kitchenette with no dishes except for two plastic plates and two foam cups. They provided dish soap so I guess you could clean your foam cups! For a winery, I think a nice accessory to include might be two wine glasses. A refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, and toaster were also provided.  A nice touch was two orange juices, and two muffins on the first day only.  The bed consisted of an extremely soft mattress that when you lay in you fall to the middle. I ended up sleeping on the 1990’s sofa that was provided. I was miserable. The next morning when I went to take a shower I realized there was no shower.  For some reason I overlooked that until that point. Their version of a shower was to pull the shower head out of the Jacuzzi tub and hold it in the air to wash your hair while either sitting or standing. Now I know why the floor had a very soft spot next to the tub.  I’m sure the floor was rotting underneath the linoleum. Besides the fact that the whole cottage shook when you walked across the floor, the blinds didn’t work as well. Maintenance was definitely an issue. BUT when you walked down the path to the winery you were overwhelmed with an absolute gorgeous view of the River.

We had a late check in (about 7:00pm) so we went to the front desk at the winery where they took care of our credit card payment signing. They told us what cabin we were in and that was it.  Later, we realized, what time is check out? What do we do with the one key they gave us for checkout? Where do we park? Where can we get breakfast? There was no information available in the cabin either.

Overall the experience at the winery itself was wonderful and relaxing but I would certainly try a different place to stay possibly the villas that they offered or another location.  For $149 a night I feel it was not worth it. I have stayed in much nicer cabins for around $100. On the flip side, I would stop in the winery for a nice, relaxing evening for food and drinks again.

Lynn’s Cottage Stay score: 1 glass

Wine:

(rated by glasses- 5 being best)

I think the  Midwest Winery Gals spent the most time here and how could you not with the absolute beautiful view to enjoy.

Aerie’s doesn’t offer its own wines, but rather offers over 30 wines from California to Australia, ranging from dry to sweet, white, blush, and reds. The beer list is also fairly extensive with an emphasis on local and microbrews and run about $3 a bottle. The winery does not offer wine tastings. It can be ordered by the glass or bottle. Most wines were priced in the low $20’s or $6 a glass. The wines we chose to taste are:

Brassfield Serenity, CA – Golden yellow, heavy bodied with the smell of ripe pear, fruitiness, crisp taste, tangy, long lingering finish which paired well with the Wild Mushroom Pizza. 56% Pinot Grigio, 31% Sauv. Blanc, and 13% Gewurtztraminer. 3 glasses

William Hill Chardonnay, Napa, CA – Greenish hue with pale yellow, medium bodied with the smell of fresh, ripe apricot and peach, nicely oaked, smooth finish. Buttery without being heavy. 4 glasses

Allure Pink Moscato, CA – Blushing rose pink color, medium bodied with a light sparkle, smelled of very ripe berries with a hint of mango, light and refreshing, semi sweet with a short finish. Would go well with a cheese plate or fresh fruit. 3 glasses

Maipe Malbec, Argentina – Garnet colored, fairly heavy bodied with smells of black currants and wood. The mouth feel is peppery, mostly in the middle to the back of the throat however it has a short finish which is surprising. Great on a cool, clear night. would go great with dark chocolate.  3.5 glasses

Lynn’s Wins: William Hill Chardonnay -I normally don’t care for Chardonnay’s, but this one is delicious. 4 glasses

OUR SPECIAL GUEST: CHEF CARI reviews the food at Aerie’s

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted and allowed to find our seats, of which there were plenty of options to choose from.

The menu is divided into appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.  It varied enough to provide something for everyone. One of the companions ordered a standard beef burger cooked medium and it came as requested, juicy and flavorful. The accompanying side order for most of the menu is chips, not fries. the pizza menu has a section entitled “Build Your Own” and includes an extensive list of impressive, non-standard toppings such as pancetta, sweet pickled jalapanos, and sun-dried tomatoes.

From the appetizer selections, we ordered Bread and Oil for $7. It included French Bread with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. The bread was sliced and slightly crisped, but not grilled or toasted (there was no color nor grill marks). That would have been appreciated, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

We also ordered a Turkey Burger ($9), Wild Forest Mushroom Pizza ($9), and Aerie’s signature salad ($5.50). The turkey burger was dry, but that is not surprising- ground turkey has very little fat in it. Perhaps adding some cheese to this burger would enhance it. The pizza was delicious and was just large enough for one person to enjoy alone.  The crust was cooked perfectly and obviously handmade.  The cheese was certainly present, but not overwhelming and the woodiness of the mushrooms came through like a champ. The salad had crisp romaine lettuce, pepperoni, red onions, and cheese.  The choice of dressing for the salad was limited to ranch or raspberry vinaigrette; we chose the latter. Although it wasn’t house made, it was good.

Overall the order arrived within 10 – 15 minutes, was served on nice china, and the ingredients were fresh, crisp, and the quality good. The server was excellent; attentive without being intrusive and knowledgeable about not just the menu and wines but about the full range of services that Aerie’s offers as well.

The bill came to $70 before tip, which included the five menu items, four glasses of wine, and two beers. Overall, its a good value for theprice and the setting and we will definitely return. Thank you Aerie’s for a lovely evening!