The story of Wineries and Grille in St Croix Falls began at a picturesque Wisconsin orchard. Former owners Linda and Mike Welch were busy crafting delicious apple wines from the fall’s harvest when the phone rang. "I’ve got 20 pails of ripe grapes,” the voice on the other end of the line said. “What do I do with them?" Out of the goodness of their hearts, Mike and Linda sprung into action, blending the grapes with their apples to create unique local wines. Their process evolved, as did their humble orchard, which now encompasses Wineries and Grille. Though they have since sold the orchard, they continue to produce apple and grape wines. They also market and sell wines from other local makers who have a talent for making outstanding vintages but struggle with the vagaries of marketing, sales, or convincing customers that some bottles contain genies.
Linda and Mike have a knack for tracking down Wisconsin’s best wines, partnering with producers such as Seven Hawks Vineyards to spread forward-thinking drinks. They sell new wines crafted from cold-weather hardy grapes at the University of Minnesota. They also carry national labels, such as Canyon Road from California, which is specially crafted for dining, and international labels from Spain, South Africa, and elsewhere. But even stronger than Linda and Mike's love for ambrosials is their love for St. Croix Falls and its local produce and game. Their son Greg uses these local ingredients to create hearty entrees with elk, rainbow trout, and hand-cut steaks. They pair smoked pork chops and crisp salads with bricks of homemade fudge and cheesecake, for meals that highlight the subtle flavors in their wines and leave diners yearning for more.
Inspired by their love of Germany's Rhine Valley, the Shimek family shares the joy of their days abroad with their European-style vineyard without having to hurl their fellow countrymen across the Atlantic. Chateau St. Croix Winery & Vineyard, a 55-acre plot, is complete with stables, a fishing pond, and an art gallery. The heart of the vineyard, though, is its 2.5 acres of grapes, nearly five tons of which are grown in six varieties for use in their award-winning wines. Visitors can sample Chateau St. Croix's sundry varietals and blends after a half-hour tour, pairing each sip with chocolates, cheeses, and crackers.
Inspired by a vacation to Tuscany, executive chef Justin Grecco conducts a symphony of locally sourced ingredients to create authentic Italian fare. After acclimating to the eatery's red walls and checkered tablecloths, diners can begin culinary sojourns with arugula salad ($11) or crispy calamari ($9), the crunchiest thing to emerge from the sea since Poseidon's jam band last toured. Roman Anthony's dinner menu features shapely noodle formations such as the pappardelle pasta, which is tossed with braised beef, wild mushrooms, and basil-infused San Marzano tomato sauce ($25), and the cream-sauce-coated stuffed lobster ravioli ($25). Grilled pork bistecca comes bathed in balsamic reduction and strawberry demi glace, nestled next to a jumble of farm fresh veggies ($22). Roman Anthony's also dispenses an array of fine wines and spirits from behind a granite bar that seats 35 people upright, or 25 if they insist on leaning like their favorite Italian tower.
Nestled in a hunting lodge, Back Roads Bar & Grill specializes in the same thing hunters do: meat. Their juicy sirloin steaks come smothered in mushroom and onions or ensconced in a steak sandwich. Burgers boast similarly hearty toppings such as fried onions and bacon or swiss and fiery jalapeños. Quarter and half southern-style fried chickens brim with down-home flavor. Popcorn shrimp, assorted wraps, and salads round out the kitchen’s offerings, which patrons can pair with pours from the full bar or simply the crackle of the fireplace’s roaring flames.