Travelers follow Jo Daviess County's sprawling fields and undulating hills toward Massbach Ridge Winery’s 18+ acre estate. Founded by the Harmston family in 2003, the winery’s proprietors select grapes grown in Jo Daviess County to concoct their batches of reds and whites. Members of the winery family escort guests on impromptu tours before rendezvousing in the tasting room or on the patio for samplings. The outdoor patio grants a heightened view of the vineyards below, which visitors can wander through on quests for vine-ripe copies of The Grapes of Wrath. In addition to its frequent tastings and tour sessions, Massbach Ridge Winery hosts a number of wine-related events each year.
Located inside a brick-hewn building reminiscent of a grand castle, the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery recounts the history of the company’s former brewery, which dates back to 1844. Visitors tour Pabst’s corporate offices, take photos with a statue of Captain Frederick Pabst, and drink tall pints of the brewery’s concoctions. The gift shop stocks vintage Pabst memorabilia, including steins, shirts, and artwork. Best Place’s halls and courtyards can also be rented for banquets, weddings, and other events.
Ivy snakes around door frames and fine stemware dangles above the Von Klaus Winery Tasting Haus?s bar where racks of all-natural fruit wines give off a kaleidoscope of colors. In this space, Von Klaus's staff re-creates the secluded winery experience right in downtown Baraboo. During four-course tastings, they pour samples of their sulfite- and preservative-free wines crafted from handpicked apples, wild cherries, or New Zealand kiwis. As guests gaze out the windows onto the historical square, the staff brings out small plates that may include Wisconsin cheese, jumbo shrimp, and chocolate truffles. As intimate as these pairings can be, the team at Von Klaus also finds a way to re-create the same feeling on a larger scale at private events. In addition to mobile tastings, the winery also brings its traveling vineyard to events in which a professional wine steward is on hand to offer guests a variety of sips.
Con Amici Wine Bar invites guests to relax with glasses of wine or craft beer in a calm, convivial atmosphere. Live musicians play blues and jazz sets as patrons sip a cabernet sauvignon or merlot and nibble on Wisconsin cheese and chocolates. In addition to serving delectable snacks and glasses of fine wine, Con Amici prides itself on its commitment to sustainable practices, sourcing food from local producers and composting waste when possible.
"The wine industry is overwhelming and confusing to many," says wine steward Merrell Tomlin, "but once you understand the basic premise that wine was created to make food taste better, you're on your way to a lifetime of dining enjoyment." Tomlin, who has visited hundreds of vineyards over the last 30 years, shares his accumulated knowledge at wine tastings and wine-appreciation courses he runs through Learn Vino. During each session, participants learn proper food and wine pairings for varieties as light as a riesling or heavy as a cabernet. Tomlin also fills students in on correct glassware, ideal serving temperatures, and how to keep wine from getting spoiled or throwing tantrums in the cheese aisle. An education in proper terminology helps students to make savvy observations about a wine's nose or mouthfeel. More advanced appreciation courses last four weeks and cover topics such as the history of wine or the eight "noble grapes" of France, from which many popular wines are made.
In addition to the sense of perseverance and accomplishment that comes with finishing a 5K, the organizers of the Bacon Chase have added another incentive: bacon. During their two races?the 5K Piggy Pilgrimage, which is a traditional 5K, and the 0.05K Blitz to Bacon, which is a 164-foot sprint?runners can munch on unlimited bacon bits before feasting on unlimited amounts of bacon at the finish line. Runners 21 and older can wash down the savory strips of bacon with a bloody mary, and all runners get a Bacon Chase T-shirt and a signature bacon-scented bib. The festival opens at 8 a.m. and features many bacon-themed activities, plus music.
The festive day serves a greater purpose, too. Attendees will be able to register to become a St. Jude Hero, raise money for St. Jude Children?s Research Hospital, or both.