If you are looking for a nice drive and day trip from the Twin Cities, head down the Mississippi River towards the Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery.
Located in idyllic farm country in South West Wisconsin, the winery makes a nice escape from the rush to and fro of everyday life.
Warmly welcomed into the winery’s tasting room, we were freely offered samples from the winery’s impressive offering of ciders made from apples grown onsite as well as wines made from locally grown grapes. The same process is used to made both wine and cider, the only difference being the type of yeast used and the amount of sugar that is allowed to ferment into alcohol.
While the wines were pleasant on my palate, it was the diversity of flavors in the ciders that really made the winery stand out in my mind. The orchard boasts an impressive list of apple varieties, many of which are specifically grown for making ciders and many of which I had never heard of before, undoubtedly lending to the complex flavors that tickled my tongue during our tasting.
The Scrumpy cider reminded me very much of some of the wonderful “scrumpy” ciders that we had tasted in our travels through England and France.
The word “Scrumpy” comes from England. The ground fallen apples that Lords would allow their servants to harvest and make into cider were called “scrumpies”. Now, the word scrumpy seems to be the hot word in the cider universe today, and it generally describes a cider that is a little rough tasting and sometimes more raw and unfiltered than its more refined counterparts.
The other standout favorite cider of the afternoon was the Honeycrisp Hard. Splashed with a hint of honey, the flavor was complex, changing as it danced along my taste buds.
After our tasting, we ventured into the next room where we were greeted with a plethora of local apples, cheese curds and other local delicacies. They offer samples of their many varieties of apples, and I enjoyed tasting a couple that were new to me.
If you are coming down, why not make an afternoon of it and pack a picnic lunch, to enjoy under the shade of the orchard’s lovely gazebo.
The Maiden Rock Winery is a part of the Great River Road Wine Trail. If one winery isn’t enough to fill your afternoon, hit a few more along the lovely Mississippi River (if you visit them all and collect the stamps, you could be the proud owner of a nice, commemorative wine glass!)