Brothers Aric and Brad Schmiling cultivated a passion for viticulture while growing up on their parents’ Italian-style winery. After moving to Green Bay, the duo set out to remedy the area’s winery deficit by founding Captain’s Walk Winery, where trained vintner Aric produces small-batch wines in water-bent French-oak barrels. Situated in a restored pre-Civil War building, the facility entices eyes with old-fashioned design features, including plaster crown moulding, an antique tasting bar, and a television from the eighteenth century. During the summer months, an on-site herb garden mimics the flavor and aroma profile of each wine, and a year-round tasting room offers guests an unpretentious glimpse into winemaking with laid-back tastings and a cellar viewing window carved into the wooden floor.
Sometimes, seeing a city from the water that surrounds it gives you a deeper appreciation of its beauty. That's the approach behind Foxy Lady Cruises, a company that grants its guests sweeping views of Jacksonville from their perches on a luxurious yacht. From the various open-air decks, visitors can take in skyscrapers, bridges, and squirrels playing chess in nearby parks during dinner cruises, cocktail cruises, narrated cruises, and even weddings.
Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery's winemaker Steve Johnson and owner Maria Milano shepherd their staff as they transmute Wisconsin varietal grapes into an array of award-winning cool-climate wines. The vineyard's vines—some of which can withstand weather 30 degrees below zero and pinches from elderly snowmen—spawn year-round grapes such as frontenac, st. pepin, and petite pearl. Guides conduct regular public and scheduled private tours of the vineyards, production facilities, and a tasting room decked in cream-colored walls and hardwood accents.
Named for a line of latitude running through Tuscany, Bordeaux, and the Green Bay area, the winery abounds with local culture and Mediterranean atmosphere. Villa arches and wide windows overlook colonnades and rolling green fields, enabling staff to ensure free-growing grapes don't wander to other pastures. The winery grounds swell with revelers during a range of seasonal events, such as festivals and a concert series.
While fermenting and aging, Von Stiehl Winery's 25 wines reside in underground limestone caverns that date back to the Civil War era. Brothers Aric and Brad Schmiling build on experience as a chemist and theater engineer to maintain the winery and stock its online store with French- and American-style blends such as a gold medal-winning cabernet sauvignon, brandy-fortified cherry wine, and merlot aged in French oak, all of which woo palates more gently than Cyrano de Bergerac in a pillow fight. Visits to the storied winery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, allow guests to soak in bold Austrian and Italian architecture as they pass through fermentation quarters and a production facility. Seasonal events range from tastings and food pairings to live music and grape-stomping competitions. In warmer weather, sprawling grass lawns grant panoramic views of Lake Michigan.
Gravity Trails gives visitors adventurous ways to explore the outdoors with ziplines, kayak tours, and bike rentals. The company's portable zipline can be set up at virtually any location and stretch from 100 to 300 feet, giving groups and get-togethers a heart-pounding way to explore a favorite park, take in the coastal scenery, or careen through the mall for some very last-minute shopping. For a more leisurely outing, two-hour swamp tours let customers get up close to one of these areas the native flora and fauna of Cane Bayou, Pearl River, Honey Island, and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve amid the silent ripples of a kayak. Tourists sans transportation will especially rejoice in Gravity Trails' bike-rental program, which delivers gleaming cruiser bikes directly to customers' doors for as little as four hours and as long as a week.