As a silly romantic girl, I sit places and think, "I would like to get engaged here." Vino in the Valley is one of those places. (Of course, not now. Now that I've said it aloud, it is ruined. Keep shopping, future-fiance.) About a one hour drive from Eau Claire, the same from Minneapolis, it's a spot that is definitely worth the drive if you're looking for an evening out. And I do literally mean "out": Vino is an entirely outdoor experience. Dinner is served in a pavilion with billowy white tie-back curtains, looking out on the small vineyard from which local crooners serenade relaxed diners. Early this summer, a random smattering of girlfriends got together at this picturesque eatery-indulging in wine, pasta, bread and fudgey desserts.
It's been weeks since I took these photos, and I swear I think about this fudge pop at least once a day. The inside is a moist, heavy chocolate cake, the outside a crusty fudge topped with fresh whipped cream, a strawberry and a refreshing mint leaf. Drool.
After dinner, the five of us took a stroll past the vineyard and through a field to the bubbling creek, where we refilled our wine glasses and toasted to our wonderful evening together.
There was a gorgeous amount of fog hanging in the air that night, floating just inches above the field of scattered weeds and wildflowers. Unfortunately, the vines had not yet taken off in the vineyard, but it the scene was still very photo-worthy.
All of my trips to Vino are running together in my mind (there have been four in the past year...), but I believe we took advantage of the outdoor games at Vino, playing a round of ladder ball and relaxing while listening to the smooth vocal stylings of the live musician.
My favorite part of the entire experience is this: Several times during the night, the owner of Vino cues up the classic tune "That's Amore", beckoning diners to sing along with their tablemates, clinking and drinking each time they belt "that's amore!" At this point in the night, I typically have at least one glass of wine in me...which is enough to make me giggle endlessly while attempting to keep up with the "amore".
The girls and I discussed how we'd really love to be taken here by a boy, on an uber romantic date...without having to tell him by dropping obnoxiously obvious hints. So, boys, I'm doing you a solid, here. (And I know there are a few of you reading this. Past comments and conversations have proven this.) Woo your love interest with a little trip to Vino in the Valley. Sure, it's a longer drive than your local Olive Garden, but it will be beyond magical...and she will love it. I guarantee it. :)