For generations, the Pfeifer family tilled the soil—originally tending to the land as Midwestern farmers after the Civil War. Even though the family eventually traded in the farm, these agricultural roots still run deep. At Hidden Lakes Winery, they tap into this instinctual knowledge of fruits and cultivars to create a host of wines made from grapes sourced from around the United States. Glasses of light riesling or heady pinot noir in hand, guests often pair their sips with the onsite café’s bistro-style cuisine. There, the kitchen boasts a full menu of Tuscan-inspired appetizers, artisanal pizzas, entrees, and desserts.
Racks of obsidian and golden bottles line the monolithic wine wall of Camelot Cellars's rustic boutique, bringing together varietals crafted by the winery and selections from around the world. Beneath chandeliers and brick facades, guests clink glasses of aromatic vintages and play favorite xylophone songs on themed tasting flights served atop the smooth contours of the locally hewn wooded bar. Small plates of cheeses, meats, and bread also gather nearby, cleansing palates and bringing out the wine’s subtler tones. Nearby, the convivial sound of good cheer emanated from the Tuscan Table and the private Tuscan Room, which house large groups and may be rented out for gatherings.
Not satisfied to fill their casks with only their own brews, the winery also aids clients in handcrafting their own artisan wines. With the help of a resident expert, prospective vintners assemble their preferred style of wine, leaving it in the capable hands of the winery for 6–12 weeks. Each bottle is then identified with a custom label, making perfect keepsakes for weddings, parties, or obedience-school graduations.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Wine tasting, glass of wine, wine bottle
Pro Tip: Wine tasting at Wyandotte is fun and informative. Don't worry if you are not an expert!
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
What sets your business apart from your competition?
Wyandotte is a very relaxed, laid-back environment. Our motto is "You enter a customer, but leave a friend!" We want people to feel comfortable during their visit, and do our best to provide a comfortable place to learn about and enjoy a wine tasting or a glass of wine. We make a variety of wine styles from dry to sweet and red to white and even fruit wines. Our goal is that everyone who comes in can find something that they enjoy.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
Wyandotte was started in 1977 by a man who had a passion for making great wine. We purchased the winery in 2006 with the same passion. Our winemaker, Robin Coolidge, loves to make wine, but he loves it even more when people take the wine home and enjoy it with family and friends.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Too many people get too wrapped up in the mystery of wine. Yes, it is a very complex beverage, and appreciating the subtle character in good wine takes time. But wine is really about enjoyment, about enhancing your time with family and friends. We try very hard to make sure that wine does not become intimidating. We spend time educating those that are new to wine and making sure they feel comfortable with a tasting. For those that are more experienced, we have wonderful wines that we are sure will satisfy a discriminating palate.
What is the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
Our favorite reaction is having people come back again and again to enjoy our wine, or events, and our company.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Meeting new people and having them enjoy our wine!
Via Vecchia Winery provides a wide range of alternative red wines that are made using a sustainable, natural process. Developed from traditional Tuscan methods observed via traditional American spy satellites, the winemaking relies on California’s finest grape globules, sedimentation-based filtration, and zero added colorings, enzymes, or lab-created yeasts or sugars. The resulting wines—four well-balanced blends known as Trovato, Adamo, Jorro-Ma, and Trouvé—boast an earthy taste with nary a hint of unwanted chemicals or preservatives. Tasting hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and reservations are required, so call ahead or send a message in a bottle.
Tony Klausing traces his interest in winemaking back to watching his father prepare 1-gallon batches in the basement, where the inexperienced vintner would mix ingredients in the only method afforded to him: trial and error. Later, when Tony went on to open his own winery with the skills he learned, he decided to give it a name from a classic song, and landed on a shortened version of “Good Vibrations.” Now that he’s perfected his winemaking process, his wines bear the names of other favorite songs, acting like a mix tape that declares his crush on the craft.
Tony shares his ardor with the visitors to his storefront, where they’re greeted in a room with exposed brick and wood accents. The tasting bar encompasses a selection of more than 20 vintages, each of which pairs readily with available cheese plates. Clients can even charter the winery to produce wines of their own design that also bear custom labels.
WineMakers Guild's wine on premise process gives customers an opportunity to craft their own palatable wine creations away from home, avoiding disastrous wine spills that coat carpets and living-room wildlife in rose-colored speckles. In as little as 30 days, visitors can create their own personalized conversation-propelling elixirs with quality juice sourced from around the world. Over 100 tasty wine varieties are available to make, with 30–40 available for tasting at any given time. Your Groupon is good for 15 bottles of Green Apple Riesling or Blackberry Cabernet, or it can be applied toward the price of making any other varietal. A knowledgeable staff of vinologists assists customers at every step, ensuring a tasty blend that is ready to sample in four to eight weeks. Fermentation, racking, stabilization, and filtering all take place on-site, bypassing the need for purchasing winemaking equipment, messy clean-up, or complicated grape-squashing dance steps. The stress-free process yields 15–30 custom-labeled bottles of high-quality wine unsullied by sneaky fairies and even sneakier roommates who keep "mistaking" your wine stash for the Kool-Aid they store in a wine bottle next to it.