River Bend Winery, front sign

River Bend Vineyard & Winery

River Bend Tasting Room

Tucked literally into – although not directly along – a bend along the Chippewa, River Bend Winery started in 2009 by a husband-and-wife team. Donna and Al (the team in question) developed a variety of reds and whites using their own vineyard grapes and some combinations from other regions. They do everything on-site, from the grape-growing to pressing, tank storage, barrel aging, bottling, and more.

River Bend Tasting Room

River Bend Tasting Room barThe River Bend Tasting Room offers sampling, shopping for wines and associated items, and tables for relaxing and enjoying their wines. The outdoor patio and lawn often hosts live music and other events during the warmer months, and people are welcome to bring their own food to complement River Bend’s wines.

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Outdoor live music shows and more offer the opportunity for a relaxing afternoon amidst the vineyards at River Bend Winery.

Quite a few River Bend wines have won Gold, Double Gold, and even “Best in Class” designations in wine competitions across the country. Their wines are also distributed to stores all across Wisconsin, but there’s nothing like sipping it at the source, right?

White and Blush wines include their Riesling, Cranberry Blush, LaCrescent, Summer White, and Moonlight, a sweet white. Red & Rosé wines include their River Bend Blend, aged in American Oak and featuring the Marquette breed of grape along Zinfandel and Merlot; the Marquette Red and Marquette Rosé, Summer Red, Magenta, and Sunset. Two dessert wines and two sparkling wines are also available in-season. Most of their wines run in the $11-15 range for bottles; the sparkling ones run closer to $25.

River Bend tastingThe Tasting Room is closed Monday and Tuesday. Hours otherwise are:
Wednesday-Friday 11am-7pm
Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm

River Bend also started up a distillery, featuring vodka, whiskey, and more. As they develop and age, inquire during your visit!

You’ll find River Bend Vineyard & Winery just west of Chippewa Falls and minutes north of Eau Claire. It’s accessible off Business Highway 29/County X via 103rd Street and a left on 33rd Avenue (signs point you there, and it’s really your only road choices there.) During that ride, you pass under the newer Highway 29, now a freeway in this area. U.S. 53 just a few miles to the east, as is Highway 124.

River Bend Vineyard & Winery Address:

10439 33rd Ave
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
Phone: (715) 720-9463
Website
E-mail




The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor & Confectionery


One step into this old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor, and you’re whisked back to an earlier, sweeter era. Everything from home-mixed ice cream in waffle cones made right in the store to scratch-made flavored soads and rich, tasty malts from the old-school Hamilton Beach mixer and the metal cup delights the senses. A wall of candies, chocolates, nuts, and other treats make this one of the more complete confectioneries you’ll find anywhere – it could be the 1930s in here!

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lacrosse_thepearl04The Pearl is located right on (surprise!) Pearl Street in downtown La Crosse, right near the La Crosse Center. U.S. 53 begins just to the east; U.S 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 are just a few blocks to the south; and Highway 35 is about a mile to the east. Basically, if you heard towards downtown La Crosse where all the bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife are, you’re practically within eyeshot of The Pearl. It’s definitely a great, sweet stop.

The Pearl, waffle cone making

Want a fresh waffle cone? They don’t get any fresher than this!

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I stocked up on candy cigs; you don’t find them around very often. Don’t worry, I paid for them.

Address:
207 Pearl Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-6655
Website

Northwoods Brew Pub, Osseo

Northwoods Brew Pub

Originally in Eau Claire, Northwoods Brew Pub moved into a massive former condensery in Osseo in April, 2016 and now sports an incredibly impressive space featuring its brewery operations, full restaurant with a front patio, and bars on two levels with event space that rivals anything we’ve seen in Milwaukee or Madison.

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Northwoods Brew Pub’s new building is gi-normous. During World Wars I & II, this place was a condensery.

They still brew Eau Claire’s historic Walter’s Premium Pilsner, a brand they resurrected in the 1990s after decades of dormancy. Northwoods Brewing Company brews quite a few of their own brands, including:

  • Floppin’ Crappie Pale Ale (voted the #1 “Biker Beer” in Sturgis in 2004)
  • Lil’ Bandit Brown Ale (a silver medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival)
  • Rowdy Rye Ale
  • Prickly Pike’s Pilsner
  • Bumbl’n Bubbas Buzz’ Brew
  • Red Cedar Red
  • White Weasel Light Ale
  • Mouthy Muskie Light,
  • and – lest you think we’re getting too light here – Kelly’s Stout.

Northwoods Brew Pub front tapsThey add seasonals here and there including a Ripplin’ Red Raspberry Wheat (from mid-May ’til it’s gone), their Chippewa Valley Oktoberfest Lager (available in fall – you know, around Oktoberfest time), their Buckshot Buck in February, and more.

Northwoods offers tours of their brewing facilities. They’re open seven days a week at 11am.  Their closing times are 10pm Monday through Thursday, 11pm Friday and Saturday, and 8pm on Sunday. Winter and holiday hours can vary; call 715-597-1828 for updates.

Their main brewery, bar, and restaurant is located on the main floor, but worth a look (at the very least) are the beautiful second and third levels. With original wood floors, sandblasted brick, original ceilings, and impressive new bar facilities, they’ve made the most of this solid old building.

Northwoods Brew Pub, 2nd floor

Part of second floor event space at Northwoods Brew Pub.

You’ll find Northwoods Brew Pub one block north of U.S. 10/53 on West Street, just west of Osseo’s downtown (the other big attraction in town, the Norske Nook, is less than half a mile away.) I-94 travelers reach Osseo via Exit 88 (U.S. 10) and going west about one mile and then one block north on West Street. The Buffalo River State Park Trail runs right past the building.

Address:
50819 West Street (just off U.S. 10/53)
Osseo, WI 54758
(715) 597-1828
Website

 

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company


Known far and wide nowadays, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company traces its roots back to 1867, when Jacob Leinenkugel founded his brewery in Chippewa Falls. They stayed primarily regional – as in NW Wisconsin and the Twin Cities – until 1988 when Miller Brewing bought into the company and expanded their reach considerably.

Today, Leinenkugel’s brews a wide variety of beers, from their flagship Leinenkugel’s to their Leinie’s Honey Weiss, Berry Weiss, Sunset Wheat, Helles Yeah, Leinie’s Red, Leinie’s Creamy Dark, Summer Shandy, Canoe Paddler, Oktoberfest, Snowdrift Porter, Big Butt Doppelbock, and more.

The Leinie Lodge is the visitors’ headquarters of all things Leinenkugel, located off Highway 124 just north of downtown Chippewa Falls. From here, brewery tours of the original Leinenkugel Brewery are conducted; they’re available every half hour seven days a week (specifics here) and of course the Leinie Lodge offers plenty of samples and items to purchase for you and other beer lovers.

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The Leinenkugel Brewery in Chippewa Falls.

Address:
124 E. Elm Street
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
(888) 534-6437
Website

Pearl Street Brewery


Pearl Street has long been a center of activity in La Crosse, and La Crosse has long been a major beer town. The Pearl Street Brewery combined the two to offer residents, visitors, and many UW-La Crosse students (21 and over) several craft beers in the heart of downtown “LAX”.

Pearl Street Brewery opened up in 1999, the same year monster brewer G. Heileman shut its doors just to the south (today, it’s City Brewery.)  While still serving beer on Pearl Street (and 3rd Street, famous for being packed with bars), the brewery and Tasting Room have moved north of downtown a bit to a 100-year old former Rubber Mills boot factory just east of Highway 35 that offers plenty of room for both brewing and tasting. The Tasting Room is open every day but Sunday and Monday, and you can take a tour (a “Brewery Tourery” as they call it) on Saturdays from noon to 5pm.

Popular Pearl Street brews include their D.T.B. Brown Ale, which won a Gold medal at the World Beer Championships; Rubber Mills Pils, in salute of the factory in which they now operate; Pearl Street Pale Ale; El Hefe Bavarian Hefeweizen; Java Lava Coffee Stout; and the – get ready – “That’s What I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Organic Rolled Oat Stout.”

Pearl Street’s Tasting Room is a few blocks off Highway 35, north of U.S. 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 by a few miles. U.S. 53 is just to the west and I-90 crosses just two miles to the north.

Address:
1401 Saint Andrew Street
La Crosse, WI 54603
(608) 784-4832
Website

City Brewery


City Brewery in La Crosse grew out of the former G. Heileman Brewing, a longtime La Crosse legacy that brewed Old Style, Colt .45, and many other national brands. Heileman started in La Crosse back in 1858 and in the 1980s was the third largest brewer in the U.S. after acquiring regional brands around the country like Olympia, Rainier, Grain Belt, Blatz, and Black Label. The collapse of a holding company that acquired Heileman hastened its demise, before its late 1990s shutdown.

In 1999, City Brewery started in the former Heileman facilities; “City Brewery” was Heileman’s original name and so the legacy lives on. While Old Style is now brewed elsewhere, City Brewery produces a variety of beers and other beverages, including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, Angry Orchard, and Arizona Iced Tea in La Crosse as well as Iron City Beer and Sam Adams in a brewery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania that they bought in 2007.

6pack_200For local La Crosse brews, City Brewery produces La Crosse Lager, which is “krausened” like Old Style was. It is the flagship brand that adorns the popular “World’s Largest Six Pack”, a set of six metal beer storage tanks formerly labeled as Old Style cans and now decorated as La Crosse Lager cans. You’ll find them just south of downtown La Crosse one block east of the Mississippi River along U.S. 14/61, close to where U.S. 53 and Highway 33 begin and where Highway 16 comes in from Minnesota. Highway 35 is just a few blocks to the east.

The brewery itself does not currently offer tours, but the World’s Largest Six Pack is a must-see and a prime State Trunk Tour photo-op. Just north of City Brewery, downtown La Crosse offers plenty of things to see and do, and the Pearl Street Brewery is also available on the north side of town.

Address:
925 S. 3rd Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 785-4200
Website