VINO IN THE VALLEY: GOOD VINO. GOOD VIEW. GOOD VIBES. NOW OPEN

Maiden Rock, Wis. (May 19, 2008) —

Vino in the Valley, the unique, outdoor wine and dining experience located between Ellsworth and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, is now open.

Now in its second year of operation, Vino in the Valley is open for business through September 28, 2008 on Thursdays from 5 – 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 4 – 10 p.m. New this year, Vino in the Valley will also be open on Sundays from noon – 8 p.m.

Enjoy your meal in the welcoming open-air pavilion surrounded by the scenic Rush River Valley. On Thursdays and Saturdays, diners select from the evening’s choices of pasta, vegetables, meat and sauces. Or enjoy a tasty brick oven pizza. Chef Erik Hendrickson enhances many of the menu items by incorporating seasonal local vegetables, fruits and honey. Also on Thursdays and Saturdays, enjoy the very best in live music from talented local artists!!

Sundays now feature Vino in the Valley specialties served in a relaxing, buffet-style manner. Start with warm brick oven bread and a salad, then enjoy all-you-can-eat of four different, made-from-scratch pasta dishes. Dessert is also included!!! Prices are $17 for adults, $13 for seniors and kids under 12 are only $8.

Vino in the Valley is located less than an hour east of the Twin Cities, eight miles east of Ellsworth, Wisc., and is in close proximity to a number of cities and small towns known for their charm such as Red Wing, Maiden Rock, Pepin, Stockholm and Chippewa Falls.

Reservations are welcome for groups of eight or more. For more information, sample menus and directions to Vino in the Valley, please visit www.vinointhevalley.com, call 715-639-6677, or email larry@vinointhevalley.com.

Vino in the Valley opens with cork-popping pizazz

Debbie Griffin River Falls Journal
Published Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wine flowed. Pasta steamed. Bread chefs removed loaf after loaf of steaming-hot focaccia bread from the brick oven.

And lots of “rich chocolate torts with fresh berries and whipped cream” got boxed to go.

Owner, president and host of Vino in the Valley Larry Brenner welcomed guests and led them during dinner in the famed Dean Martin number “That’s Amore.”

 

Vino in the Valley owner Larry Brenner welcomed dinner guests to the grand-opening night of his pavilion restaurant that overlooks a vineyard and the Rush River. A couple times each night, he leads the crowd in singing the classic song “That’s Amore,” from words printed on the back of a card at each table. Seated at this table are dinner guests and friends (clockwise): Bill Paatal, Jenny McEneny, Tatum Huppert and Tom Place. Debbie Griffin photo

With the words to “That’s Amore” printed on cards at each table, people seemed to delight in singing along with the song’s peppy lyrics. At the refrain, he asked diners to raise and clink their glasses.

Vino serves many beers, too, but wines include merlot, chardonnay, pinot noir, chianti, Riesling, pinot grigio and a few local selections: Rush River Red, Moonlight Whisper and Lost Creek Sunset.

The local wine names refer to features found near the new Thursday and Saturday dining spot that overlooks a vineyard on the banks of Rush River.

Located 25 miles southeast of River Falls at W3826 450th Avenue in Maiden Rock, ties to Vino in the Valley reach home.

Its executive chef, Allen Whitney, also creates the chocolate confections for River Chocolate Company on County Road U in rural River Falls. He’s supervising food and making all the desserts.

The chef making the food, Catharine Noel, lives in River Falls. Jerome McNamara, a chef at the West Wind Supper Club, helped Vino by cooking on grand opening night when Noel couldn’t make it.

Locals Colleen Raye and Norton Lawellin entertained the crowd on grand opening night.

Vino’s gift shop offers interesting and many local items including Ingridware Pottery out of Beldenville. Brenner said he incorporated local goods at every opportunity, for example he serves Chippewa bottled water, coffee from Elmwood and goods from many other area vendors.

A few of Brenner’s neighbors set up stands in the vendor area selling homemade honey and signs made from old barn wood.

Vino, view, vibes

Brenner just planted three acres of vineyard before opening the open-air pavilion and kitchen.

From it Vino serves mainly bread, pasta, some meal-sized salads and an appetizer of Italian nachos. Guests had two choices of meal salad and two choices of pasta for the grand opening: Rigatoni with rustica (pork sausage, tomatoes, white wine, peas, butter, onion and garlic; and a linguini with marinated, sautéed chicken breast and an asparagus-parmesan cream sauce.

Salads cost $18 and pasta’s priced at $17. The chocolate tort dessert sells for $5 a piece. Wine by the glass ranged from $4-$6; by the bottle in cost between $23 and $30. The local wines Brenner sells were bottled in Stillwater, Minn., and all made from either Wisconsin or Minnesota grapes. He said when his vineyard matures, it will yield about 9,000 bottles of wine.

Whitney said in the future they might place dining tables in the vineyard.

Brenner said he’s just always wanted to do something with his big farm that sits in the lush Rush River valley. He’s worked at Clear Channel Communications for 28 years and said he enjoys meeting people.

“I wanted to figure out something different to do with the land,” Brenner said.

So he planted a vineyard and built a kitchen and bar, gift shop, restroom and open-air pavilion. He manicured the property and landscaped the dining area.

Brenner made two fire pits and placed benches and other seating outside. He created a path right along the river, where a cool breeze blows on strolling guests.

“They’ve done a good job with quality” said diner Joe Glab, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina but is from New Jersey.

He said he considers himself an Italian food connoisseur and commented that the food tastes “just like home.”

Vino in the Valley seats 80 people and employs 15. Whitney said it’s done some “soft opens” since the end of May, but last Thursday was the official Grand Opening.

Regular hours are 5-9 p.m. Thursdays and 4-10 p.m. Saturdays. Seating is on a first-come first-served basis.

Get directions or more information online at www.vinointhevalley.com or by calling 715-639-6677.

Whitney said, “It’s just like Tuscany in Wisconsin!”

Vino in the Valley sits about 25 miles southeast of River Falls in Maiden Rock. The open-air pavilion serves pasta, bread, salads, dessert and wines beside a newly planted vineyard in the Rush River valley. Debbie Griffin photo

Vino in the Valley Supported Breast Cancer 3-Day Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 24, 2007
Contact: Becky Beissel
bbeissel@innovativesurfaces.com
715-273-0218

Vino in the Valley Supports Breast Cancer 3-Day Team Ticket prices are $15 in advance, $20 at the door with all proceeds going toward Breast Cancer Research and the 3 Day!

The Rush River Valley’s newest dining treasure is offering support to a local team of walkers raising funds for Susan G. Komen For the Cure. The team, creatively named the “Mammary Makers”, currently includes siblings Becky Beissel and Jenny Funk along with Justina Lansing-Wakefield and Pam Peterson of Ellsworth, Rachel Funk, Menomonie and Mandy McKenzie, Lakeville, MN.

The event, appropriately named “Raising Glasses for the Cure”, will be a wine tasting benefit held on August 18, 2007 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, at Vino in the Valley in rural Maiden Rock, WI. The tasting will feature appetizers and several varieties of wine, surrounded by the beauty of Vino’s astounding scenery. A silent auction and rare solo appearance by Anita Straub, of Thurston Hill fame, will round out the event.

No reservations are required but advance tickets are recommended. The special event will coincide with Vino’s regular menu offerings. Advance tickets can be purchased at a discounted price through several local establishments including Brad’s Corner Liquor, Compass Financial Services, Cubby’s Video and Tanning, the Mammary Makers Team at 715-273-0218 as well as at Vino in the Valley during their regular business hours. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

All proceeds from the event will benefit breast cancer research and the Breast Cancer 3-Day. Taking place in 12 cities nationwide, the Breast Cancer 3-Day is a three day, 60-mile walk that provides an opportunity to educate tens of thousands of people about breast health, including the importance of early detection. Funds raised through the Breast Cancer 3-Day are used for breast cancer research, education, and community outreach programs.

More information can be found at www.the3day.org.

Vino Grand Opening – By Paul J. Seeling- Sun-Argus

Vino in the Valley is Open “That’s Amoré!”
By Paul J. Seeling- Sun-Argus

Gateway Publishing

MAIDEN ROCK- With a sparkling wineglass raised in a toast, Vino in the Valley host Larry Brenner, thanked everyone for coming to his new unique outdoor dining experience on its opening night last Thursday, May 31, 2007. After the toast of thanks Larry explained that a part of the dining tradition they will be following as you stimulate your senses at Vino in the Valley is to sing along as in Napoli, where love is king, when boy meets girl here’s what they say, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, That’s amoré…” with the end of each chorus of the song after singing “That’s amoré” the guests raise there glasses in a toast and take a little sip before singing the next verse of this fun song.

It was an absolutely beautiful sun lit evening to sit in the Vino’s delightful new open air  pavilion overlooking the newly planted vineyard and enjoy the company of friends and family while dining on a sumptuous meal and listening to the pleasant acoustic sounds of local artists Emily Huppert on standup bass and vocals, and Tim Casswell on guitar and slide guitar.

Being the very first night of operation for the Vino in the Valley, owner Larry Brenner dealt
with a few “hiccups” that few if any in attendance seemed to notice or care about. The new kitchen has a hood fan ventilation system that wasn’t working properly and didn’t pass inspection for the operation of the kitchen, so in lieu of a meal of pasta, which will be the standard fare for the Thursday night outings at Vino in the Valley, Larry and his marvelous staff served up a large slice of brick oven baked pizza as the main course. There were four varieties of pizza to choose from and each was delicious.

To begin the dining experience each table was served fresh home baked richly crusted bread with Brischetta toppings, and a glass of private label wine was offered as one of the beverage selections. Over pleasant conversation one can relax and enjoy the million dollar views of the Rush River Valley and the vineyard. Gourmet notchos were served as the tasty appetizer before the pizza slice was served. Capping off this fine meal was a slice of a sinfully delicious chocolate desert that was topped with fresh raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, beyond yum!

Over one hundred guests of young and old, couples and families were served on this inaugural Thursday evening at Vino in the Valley and all appeared to be having a great time at this unique dinning experience. The service was first rate and the guests enjoyed the attention of their host who stopped at every table to insure that their meal and service were meeting their expectations. Brenner thanked them for coming, shared toasts
for birthday and anniversary celebrations and even had a dance with one lucky gal.

Even the boorish attempts of disgruntled neighbors who tried to vandalize the evening with distant fireworks and other loutish behavior went unheeded by the guests who had picked a beautiful summer evening to “stimulate all their senses,” with good friends, good food and good wine.

It was nice to experience this new business venture of agricultural tourism, which has put
thirteen employees to work to the benefit of the economy in Pierce County. In addition to dinning at the open-air pavilion, there is a gift shop that is offering Vino in the Valley private label wine selections and handcrafted pottery. Ingrid Bjerstedt Rogers was there with her ingridware Pottery with special Vino in the Valley pieces along with other selections of her fine artistic works at reasonable prices.

The Pierce County Land Management Committee should feel good about their sound
judgment in granting the permit requests to advance this worthy business enterprise. This is a venture that should be good for the county.

Vino Valley is also hosting the El Paso Farmers Market where Larry’s good neighbors
will be offering their produce, eggs, honey and crafts. There were some beautiful wood cravings available on this first night.

If you have a special occasion coming up or want to take that favorite someone, or have the family out for a nice time, consider spending a Thursday evening at Vino in the Valley, “That’s amoré!”

Pasta alfresco


Vino in the Valley waitress Julie
Karlstad, sister to owner Larry
Brenner, and executive chef Allen Whitney believe strongly in good food and a good atmosphere for customers. The open-air-pavilion restaurant offers Italian food.
Staff photo by Pamela Powers

If You Go What: Vino in the Valley. Where: Rural Maiden Rock. When: May through September, 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays.

Directions: Take Interstate 94 west to the Glenwood City-Elmwood exit or Highway 128. Turn left and go to Spring Valley. Just past Spring
Valley, take a left on Highway CC. Drive 9.5 miles to 450th Avenue. Go right on 450th. The restaurant is four miles ahead on the right.
Cost: Entrees cost between $18 and $19 and include bruschetta, the main course and dessert.
Information: 715-639-6677 or
vinointhevalley.com. The restaurant has a first-come, first-served policy.

Being out in fresh air
will encourage appetites at an Italian
restaurant along the Rush River.
By Pamela Powers

Menomonie News Bureau
MAIDEN ROCK – Good vino, good views, good
vibes. That’s amore!, according to the owner of the new Vino in the Valley, an open-pavilion Italian
restaurant.

Owner Larry Brenner, 48, who works as a salesman
for Clear Channel Radio in the Twin Cities, built the
restaurant on his 300-acre farm along the Rush River.
While designing the pavilion, he kept in mind the beautiful scenic valley.

“It’s about having a framed picture of the valley,” he said. The pavilion is shaped like an amphitheater so customers can see the entire open-air seating area, as well as 1,800 grape vines planted nearby. The fruit eventually will be harvested for wine to be
served at Vino in the Valley.

“The restaurant is really there to provide a market for my wines,” Brenner said. “I definitely wanted the restaurant to be something different and a new experience.”

With the short summers in Wisconsin, he wanted to make sure customers could get outside and enjoy the warm weather.

As well as Italian cuisine, Vino in the Valley offers live music by area performers.

Visitors can stroll through the vineyard, walk by the river or relax by a bonfire.

Others may enjoy buying items from the farmers market, which features local produce, or the gift shop on site.

Vino in the Valley, which lies in the town of El Paso, opened in May. Dinner is served Thursday and Saturday evenings, May through September.

In October, Brenner plans to be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with a pick- your-own pumpkin patch, apples and gourds available for visitors.

In December, people can purchase Christmas trees there. With planting underway, visitors eventually will be able to get Christmas trees grown at the farm.

Vino in the Valley serves about four entrees, all of which include bruschetta, the main course and dessert, said executive chef Allen Whitney.

The menu is small because the restaurant is open only for a few hours.

“People come for the food, but they also enjoy the atmosphere and the breathtaking view,” Whitney said.

All entrees cost between $18 and $19.

On the menu recently was a red wine vinaigrette salad that tossed together
Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and romaine lettuce.

Another salad combined rigatti pasta, shrimp, vegetables and spring mix lettuce.

Rigatoni with a rustica sauce included pork sausage, tomatoes, white wine and peas. The other pasta dish featured linguine with marinated and sauteed chicken breast, topped with an asparagus-Parmesan cream sauce.

“We make everything from scratch,” Whitney said. “We’re trying to use as much locally produced food as possible.”

For example, locally grown heirloom tomatoes are excellent for sauces, he said.

For dessert, a slice of chocolate torte cake from Whitney’s River Chocolate
Co. is topped with fresh seasonal fruit.

Pizzas baked in a brick oven are available for $19.

Among the recent selections, That’s Amore! was topped with pepperoni and sweet
Italian sausage with fennel, green bell peppers and onions.

Another pizza, the “Whey” Good, blended mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses
with roasted red peppers and black olives.

A third offering, the Farmer’s Market Pizza, consisted of eggplant, fresh mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet roasted garlic and fresh basil.

The menu suggests wines to accompany entrees. A glass of wine costs
between $5 and $7. There are three house wines, which were created at Northern Vineyards in Stillwater, Minn.: Rush River Red, Moonlight Whisper and Lost Creek Sunset.

“A lot of people aren’t familiar with what wine works with which entree,” Whitney said.

Screens on the pavilion help keep out bugs and offer some sun shade. Inside, linen napkins dot tables. Flowers line the path to the restaurant, and hanging ferns swing in the breeze.

Each evening, Brenner leads customers in a rendition of the song “That’s Amore!”

Julie Winger of Ellsworth has eaten at the restaurant about four times. “I am absolutely
impressed. I love being outside,” Winger said.

“I love the salads and the rigatoni,” she added. “I love the view. It’s down in
the valley, and it is just beautiful.”

“Everyone is so friendly. The food is great. The scenery is beautiful,”
agreed Becky Beissel of Ellsworth.

“It is just so different,” Beissel added.

An open-air restaurant is rare in Wisconsin, Whitney said, but the 80-seat restaurant stays busy.

“If it gets a little chilly, we will drape a blanket over a customer’s shoulders,” he
said. “They can still enjoy the outdoors.”

Powers can be reached at
715-235-9018 or
pamela.powers@ecpc.com.