Monthly Archives: September 2008
On your way to the Meskwaki Bingo Casino and Hotel, take a quick detour to visit the John Ernest Vineyard and Winery. This area is full of history and activities and is right between Cedar Rapids and Ames. If you’re interested in learning about Meskwaki culture check out the site above.
The winery sits on top of a hill just off the highway. You’ll see lumbering dogs, and friendly staff and lots and lots of wine! The gal working on the Saturday that we went, was more than happy to let us try each one of the very distinct wines. Our favorites were Cranberry, Red Zinfandel, Dusty Road, Iowa Sunset, & Lincoln Highway Red. Ok there were a lot of wines that we enjoyed. 🙂 I admit.
They do have music at the vineyard, but this weekend of the 5th is the LAST of the season! With Dogs on Skis. You can get the info HERE on their website. You can always call them at (866) 533-4544. They’re official address is 3291 North Avenue Tama, Iowa. The winery is beautiful and looks like it could be rented out for weddings or other kinds of formal events. They also have small gifts and of course wine truffles made here in Iowa. Definitely need to stop and visit if you’re near!
Here is their contact info:
web address: http://www.johnernestvineyard.com/index.html
Phone: (866) 533-4544
Address: 3291 North Avenue Tama, Iowa
Ditto’s is one of those wonderful restaurants that you find in almost every small town. Especially in Iowa. You can order a skillet breakfast any time of the day, have a porkchop home style lunch complete with mashed potatoes, and supper of liver and onions with a hand dipped milk shake and finish off with a huge slice of homemade pies (if you’re lucky enough to get one before they’re gone.)
Brighton and I and occasionally Andrew, can be found on a lazy Sunday morning having breakfast. We occasionally go there for lunch or dinner and scoop up their huge nummy tenderloin.
Service is usually pretty good, they’re often busy and so it may take a while to get your first cup of coffee, but besides that, you won’t wait long. The owner can often be found in the kitchen in the morning and early afternoons. Speaking of coffee, they serve Farmers Brothers coffee, which is usually served at these kinds of little diners.
Dittos is located on Highway 30 on your way out of Stanwood or on your way into Stanwood – depending on which way you’re coming – or going. Stanwood is on the north side of Hwy 30. You can’t really miss it. And you shouldn’t.
Snuggled in between the rolling hills of Jackson County lies a century farm and acres of grape vines at a
family owned winery called Tabor Home. I’m no stranger to Tabor Home. I met them years ago at the farmer’s market in Cedar Rapids, fell in love with their wines, and have been a “fan” ever since. My husband and I ordered 2 cases of wine for our wedding, and the rest is history.
The road to Tabor Home takes you through the rolling hills deep in the heart of Grant Wood Country. Which makes the trip not only about the destination but also the journey. Through the summer, they have Music in the Vineyard beginning in June every other week until the end of September. But it doesn’t end there, they also have other activities such as the Wine Trail in April and November, Nouveau Wine Festival and the Holiday Open House in November. You can log onto their website to get details.
Among the many activities, they also carry a variety of local foods including cheese and chocolate made with Tabor’s own Raspberry wine (my personal favorite) and offer several recipes and lists of foods to pair with their wonderful wines, also available at their website. Tabor grows all their red wine grapes and most of their whites. They do purchase some from other growers around the area, but also from the Mississippi Valley. Last year, they harvested 18 tons of grapes from their own vineyards and expect that many again this year.
And the Pièce de résistance, their selection of wonderful wines ranging in price from $9.75 to $18.95 and flavors ranging from the grapiest grape to the best of red. (sorry for THAT description Paul). The winery is open for tasting Monday through Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12-6. You can call ahead and ask for tours or just stop in and try some wines. Tell Dr. Tabor that I sent you 🙂
VIsit their website Here
On our trip to Terrill, to visit the family, one of our outings was Little Swan Lake Winery in Estherville. Little did we know that it was the day of their Harvest Festival featuring World Port, Billie James, and Neal Ruge. Along with a whole other host of goodies. I desperately wanted to stay to listen to World Port, but my company was getting restless so we left after trying a few different wines.
Now, technically, this isn’t an eating establishment, but it is local and all Iowa. The beautiful barn turned winery sat as the focal point across from a field where lumbering buffalo roam. There is a host of different and wonderful wines to chose from and tasting is of course welcome.
Of the wines I was able to try, my favorite was the Concord. I also enjoyed the Buffalo Blush and Buffalo Frost, one of their signature and award winning wines. The prices were reasonable on their wines, ranging from their fruit wines starting at $8/bottle to their more traditional (or not) reds for $34. I honestly found nothing traditional about their wines, at least the ones that I tried, and that was very refreshing. This is wine you can’t get just anywhere and I’m glad that it’s here in Iowa.