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.
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.
The cooks at the newly remodeled Molly McGuire’s populate the menu with comforting tavern-style fare, and the bartenders pour cold glasses of refreshing libations. Six Crunch chicken strips ($5.99) write meal prologues with a choice of dipping sauce and a breading recipe that, like most diaries and football players' love of touchdowns, is a secret. Meat seekers sink teeth into layers of cheese, tomato, and onion atop the half-pound Angus burger ($6.49), which is served with a side such as potato salad or hash browns. Herbivores can nosh on the veggie wrap’s cucumbers, red onions, carrots, and cheddar cheese ($5.49). Patrons can rack up for games of pool, dance to a DJ’s handpicked tunes, or bask in exclusivity with the elegant VIP lounge’s bottle service. Glasses glisten with premium spirits including Grey Goose, Patrón, and Crown Royal, the preferred liquor of discriminating queen bees.
Being a health-conscious foodie can be a challenge, because it’s not always easy to determine the history of how and where food is produced. The owners of Armstrong Apples Orchard and Winery have created such a narrative for their clients, growing fruit deeply rooted in their commitments to community and homegrown produce.
Sixteen years ago, they planted their first apple orchard, calling on friends and neighbors aged 8 to 80 for help. Since then, the farm has expanded and now grows 14 varieties of apples, peaches, pears, and grapes, which they serve fresh, baked into pies and turnovers, and pressed into their award-winning wine. Of these libations, apple wine is the owners' specialty, and it ranges from the very dry—best paired with meat—to the cinnamon sweet—best paired with Halloween costumes.
In addition to fresh fruit, baked goods, and adult beverages, the farm boasts entertainment for kids and adults alike, including a playscape and a zorb ball, which is a 12-foot high hamster-ball-like contraption that guests climb inside to travel across an open 5-acre field.
Housed in the historic Ramada Plaza Hotel, Cibo Steaks & Spirits hosts a team of culinary wizards who craft hearty bread-bound edibles by day and a dinner menu brimming with Italian-inspired plates by night. Noontime noshers can start with an order of mozzarella sticks ($5) or red pepper poppers ($5.50) before wrapping mitts around a lightly breaded buffalo chicken sandwich ($6) or a charbroiled brat burger ($6), which hides its identity crisis beneath a thick cloak of sauerkraut and mustard.