It wouldn't be a Dog Days Wine Tour without our friends at the wineries. As we have done since our first year, we route our guests to a number of local wineries. This year we will return to our three nearest vintners, Matus Winery, Vermilion Valley Vineyards, and Jilbert Winery. Each spot has its own unique atmosphere and styles of wine they produce. We like all of these wineries and hope you will add them to your places to visit at other times. Remember, you can sample a little, buy all you want for later and we will get it back to the start for you. Our wine runners guarantee nearly everything makes it back unopened.
The first winery on your route, visited by all riders, regardless of the distance to be traveled, is Matus Winery. As you ride up their drive you will pass by some of their vines, to give you a warm welcome and expectancy of what you will soon experience. In mid-July the vines will be busy growing their grapes and will be young and green. These you see will be made into next year's wine. Matus also has a lot of other fruits they will blend into some delicious varieties. Each year Matus comes home from regional winefests with awards and adulations for their products. Check out their website for more information on what they have in store for this year.
All but the shortest route will ride on to Vermilion Valley Vineyards. The first thing you notice here is the abundant grape vines lining the long drive on both sides. What you see growing will become next year's offering. This winery opened only a few years ago but already has made its name well known in the region. They grow their own vines, including some varieties others do not tackle. You will easily enjoy the relaxed atmosphere her, while sipping some samples and looking out over the pond, trying to decide if you want to continue riding or call for a cab. Okay, that's never happened yet but we're pretty sure some have considered it briefly. For the longest routes this winery is about your halfway point, more or less.
The two longest routes also get the treat at Jilbert Winery. This is an older winery (for our region anyway) and is located inside the barn, adjacent to the family homestead. As with the first two stops, this winery has its own special character and personality. A featured wine here is one called mead, made from honey and if you choose to sample it you will understand how it has won so many awards. Other reds and whites are on the list as well and it is indeed tempting to try them all. Save that for when you are not getting back on a bike, however.
Our longer routes also go to the new Redhead Ciderhouse. It also houses Grandma Bea's Bakery, so there go your diet plans. The cidery offers alcoholic and non-alcoholic ciders of varying flavors and serving styles (cider slushy anyone?).
Enjoy these wineries - they are special to us and really make our tour something unique. Sample responsibly, eat plenty with any sampling, and visit the wineries again on other special occasions.