Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery is right in the Corn Belt, located in Swisher, Iowa. Not only does it have endless Iowa-grown grapes, but it also has never-ending bushels of corn straight from our fertile Midwestern soil. This ensures that there’s a personal touch to all of the wine and spirits at this place. They also age their whiskeys in a non-temperature controlled climate to make sure it tastes as natural as possible. Whether enjoying your favorite bottle of wine or some smooth dark liquor, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery is a great place to unwind.
Located off of Fleur Drive, the Jasper Winery hosts weddings, tastings, and events. The Groben family owns the winery — they’ve been running it for almost ten years. Since everything is locally grown, their philosophy manifests itself in Iowa grapes in every bottle or glass they produce. That doesn’t mean they are behind on the times, of course — they use an innovative process to determine which grape varieties to use during fermentation and how to age the wine once it’s been barreled. Their dry wines are aged exclusively in French or American Oak casks.
This winery offers a variety of different events that allow wine lovers to explore its grounds. Choose the “VIP Tasting Tour” for a 90-minute educational tasting that will teach you how to properly taste wine while you learn about Iowa history ($15), or the “Wine and Chocolate Pairing” session to learn how to best to take your chocolate with your wine ($15). The winery also offers a Bachelorette special for bridal parties that includes your own table, five bottles of wine, two cheese plates, and chocolates to share for only $100.
The tasting room at Summerset Winery is open every day Tuesday to Sunday all year long. If you want to get in on a Monday though, make an appointment. They boast friendly and knowledgeable staff who is down-to-earth enough to understand amateurs and wine aficionados alike. Their formal wine tasting and tour package costs $20, and includes a taste of six wines and a cheese plate. This also includes a look at the wine cellars and a branded wine glass to take home with you. For a slightly larger fee, tours can be private and include your very own dedicated winery representative to show you the wine tasting ropes. It’s great for big groups of friends, but the undivided attention is also useful for curious first-timers too.
Tassel Ridge Winery
The Tassel Ridge Winery offers many events aside from your traditional tasting and wine tour. Each week, they host a wine and small plates event, a wood fired pizza day, a wine and pasta night, and a series of other less regular special events. A hosted tour of the winery is free and includes a winemaking process tour as well as a tour of the grounds. Here, you’ll learn vineyard planting techniques and get a glimpse of the harvesting process, followed by the processing, fermenting, blending, and bottling of wine. If you’re with a group, you can book a ride on the Vineyard Grapemobile, an aptly named open-air trailer that will take you through the vineyard as well. It’s a great way learn all about the vineyard’s history and how to harvest grapes in Iowa’s semi-cold climate.
Fox Ridge Winery
If you’re willing to travel about forty-five minutes outside of Des Moines, the Fox Ridge Winery is one local spot you won’t want to miss. It’s located in gorgeous Northern Tama country just northwest of Traer, Iowa. Though the Fox Ridge Winery doesn’t offer tours, they make up for it in entertainment options. It’s the perfect place to go to enjoy live music on the lawn while enjoying their robust wine selection. Their wines are made exclusively from grapes from the region, and they encourage patrons to wander the grounds as they please. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a more independently led experience that allows you to choose your own itinerary.
La Vida Loca Winery
The folks at La Vida know how to tell it like it is, and their wines don’t hide behind any pretenses either. They offer four wines, each variety harvested and bottled using the freshest grapes for superior quality. Their La Vida Loca Red variety won a silver medal in the Mid-American wine competition this year. Though they don’t offer winery tours, they hold feature evenings where guests are served smoked pork loin or smoked St. Louis ribs. This more than makes up for it, especially when paired with the perfect wine. Be sure to check out their Murder Mystery Dinner nights, which involve an action-packed dinner theater experience and the opportunity to discover how loca la vida truly is.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. The park is popular for sunbathing, swimming and picnicing and there is more than a mile of sandy Atlantic beachfront to enjoy, Ranked of of the "Top 10 Beaches in America" by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka 'Dr. Beach.' Biking and kayaking are also popular activities. Fisherman can throw in their lines from the seawall for some of the best shoreline fishing in the region. Bicycles, beach chairs, and umbrellas can be rented.
Want a guided tour of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage? They are given twice daily, Thursdays through Mondays. If you aren't prepared to bring your own picnic, you can also enjoy two restaurants, Lighthouse Café and Boater's Grill, which offers authentic Cuban cuisine.
See the amazing video DRONE footage below of the Ritz and of Bill Baggs State Park, shot by Sky High Aerial Productions. You'll feel like you're there, and you're flying...
Eating healthy is the new in!
Two life-long friends open the first gluten-free restaurant in beautiful Barcelona, Spain
...By Robin G. Coles
Sergio, my waiter, graciously excused himself and brought the chef out to discuss my options. They assured me everything is Gluten-free. “Everything is Gluten-free,” says Marta, chef of Chaitea Hausfood. She recommended the lentil burger on a bulky roll. The burger came on a flat board with grooves to collect the crumbs. The board also held four hot baked potato wedges, lettuce, tomato, vegetable and chutney. There was also a whip of avocado and one grape tomato sliced in half. To drink, they recommended a glass of Chilean La Rosa wine.
Chaitea Hausfood seats around 35 patrons. Every table has round straw mats, an aloe plant and cane chairs. Each plant has a popsicle stick in it holding a sign. Mine says “Sonrie” No Hay Excusas (Smile, there’s no excuses!). In the front, there’s a small lounge area to wait for your table or take-out. The dinner menus are pieces of white paper on clipboards with choice of either Spanish or English. Breakfast/Lunch menus are on brown cardboard.
The next day (Sunday) I was heading to Montjuic (Mountain of the Jews) and La Playa (Beach). Not sure what to expect for cafes in that area I stopped at Chaitea for take-out. Lunch was standing room only. While I waited for my order of vegetables with goat cheese, beets, tomatoes, sweet potato and radicchio, I heard a familiar accent from back home; New England. It was coming from a group of college students; 3 girls from New York, 2 of which are studying in Rome, the other one is studying in Segovia, Spain. The young man with them is a student at Penn State in PA. He was on Spring break. Another couple from Delaware was visiting their daughter who is studying a semester in Spain.
After a full day’s excursions, I ended back at Chai Tea for my final dinner in Barcelona. This was after I went to 10 different restaurants. Each one said they didn’t want to cook “sin-gluten” for me. Gabriel Monagas was my waiter. Once again, Marta came out to talk with me. She put together a chicken patty topped with carrots, eggplant and goat cheese. Salad and potato wedges on the side. Tonight’s beverage was a gluten-free Spanish beer called Durum Drum. The perfect choice to ending a long 12-day trip riding up and down the coast of Spain.
Once dinner was over I had the opportunity to talk in length with Sergio. Not only does he wait tables, he co-owns the restaurant. His partner is Gustavo Barrelo.
In Venezuela, Sergio Severino went to school to become a lawyer. Gustavo Barrelo studied to be a dentist. To work in Spain, they would have to start over again. So, they chose to live their dream and open a restaurant. “This place is like we are at home,” says Sergio. “It’s very important for us. We want people to feel good and eat in a place where they can speak with another person, eat good food; healthy food.”
Gustavo is extremely strict with the food, he’s on a diet all year. He’s never eaten McDonald’s his whole life. The restaurant is like his project from himself to the world. How he’s feeling inside because he’s very healthy.
Chef Marta Skolvronek is from Bologna, Italy. Head Chef Andres Paz is from Venezuela. He started over in Spain as a culinary student. Gabriel Monagas is also from Venezuela and works as their waiter.
They came up with the name because Sergio likes the tea and it’s a mix between Asia, Europe and Latin America. Chaitea haus food is a different language, chai is very healthy for you. Together it’s 3 continents difference. “We make new foods all the time with the tides (different),” says Sergio. “Fresher, great taste with a splash of color for fusion. People eat with their eyes. Color and fusion is important for that.”
Why sin gluten? “Because we eat all healthy foods,” Sergio says. “It’s healthy for the people and get them to start eating and thinking healthy, clean for the body and lifestyle. To have good body. They need to think of themselves – kinds of foods they eat, what is better for them, they are what they eat. They can prevent diseases by eating healthy the rest of their lives. Less sickness, cancer, diabetes, etc.”
They opened October 2016. “It was hard work,” he says. “We found this place very different so we started from zero. Everything here is new and expensive too. We’re happy with it.” Severino and Barrelo are happy that they’ve joined their family in Spain and accomplished their “plan”. They carved out the perfect niche right in Barcelona. It’s a dream come true. Plans are already in motion for their next project sometime in 2018.
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