Date Night With Jeff-“Vino in the Valley”

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“In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.”
~Ernest Hemingway ‘A Movable Feast’

Hello friends!

I decided to add a new category to my blog called “Date Night With Jeff” that will probably end up being a restaurant review some of the time too.

We use to do “date night” once a week, but now it ends up being about once a month that we get the opportunity to go out ‘sans children’. Even if we just go up to the local wine bar for a glass of wine and an appetizer, we always have a good time and enjoy the uninterrupted conversation 🙂

I was going through some of my pictures from a couple summers ago and decided to make our “Vino in the Valley” date my first post in this new category.

Vino in the Valley is an open-air restaurant located between Ellsworth and Maiden Rock Wisconsin, about an hour from the twin cities. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, a midwest vineyard surrounded by gorgeous bluffs in the Rush River valley.

They offer a stellar wine list, and the staff leads everyone in a round of “That’s Amore” during dinner which we thought added a festive mood to the romantic atmosphere.

Unfortunately, I can’t say we were that impressed with the food. It was pretty mediocre for the price. To be fair, we were only there once and we may have just visited on an ‘off’ night. Because everything else was so beautiful, we’re going to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt and try it again.

Over all, it was a fantastic date night with my hubby…


We arrived about an hour before our reservation time and enjoyed a glass of wine at the bar before we were seated…


Pretty gazebo just outside the open-air dining room


The vineyard



(behind him you can see a group gathered around one of the little campfires where guests are welcome to linger over after dinner drinks)


Me (a little sunburn and wine making me look extra ‘rosy’) 🙂


Where do you like to go on date night?



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  10 comments for “Date Night With Jeff-“Vino in the Valley”

  1. Annie
    March 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Melissa,
    I’m Jeff’s aunt that lives in Oakdale, I just came across your blog!
    I discovered your review of ‘Vino in the Valley’ and I’m a little confused…
    was this review recently, or a year ago? Sounds like a wonderful place!
    Hope this finds you well!

  2. March 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Hey there Jeff’s aunt that lives in Oakdale 🙂
    Sorry for the confusion. I wrote the review today, reflecting our experience from a year ago.

    They don’t open until May (mother’s day weekend) but we are looking forward to trying it again.


  3. Larry
    March 31, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Hi Melissa…this is Larry, owner of Vino in the Valley. First of all we appreciate all comments good and bad as it’s the only way we can get better. Looking at the pictures, it appears in looking at the Vineyard and the pavilion (without drapes) that these pictures would have come from our first season which would have been 2007? Still, even though it appears that this was season one, I am sad that the food quality was not up to your liking…we have made many improvements since our first season including a whole new kitchen staff…we hope you will give us another chance and please introduce yourself on your next arrival…just ask anyone for the owner. Thanks Melissa!!!


  4. March 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hi there Larry,
    I am so pleased that you responded. We did have a lovely time at your beautiful restaurant, even though the food wasn’t quite what we expected. I am excited to give the restaurant another try, and if my dates are off and this was your first season, it makes sense that you were still ironing out the details. Like I said, the wine list was stellar, and the service was impeccable. We actually spoke with you and loved that we were talking to a real live radio personality 🙂

    Can’t wait for the new season!

  5. April 6, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Vino in the Valley was a great experience regardless of the food we had. I think it was just a fluke that night– I’ve heard so many other great comments about the place. Very much looking forward to a romantic evening with you at Vino in the Valley this summer. Will be great to be able to compare the experience to last time too.

  6. May 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    You know, if everybody on the web took the time to write stuff like this, the web would truly be a better place. Thanks!

  7. May 3, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for the compliment! I checked out your movie blog. NICE! I will definitely be checking back. Great movie reviews! 🙂

  8. Larry
    May 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks all for your notes back! Let me know when you are going to visit and we will take great care of you…just like all our wonderful customers! I hope we can do better!!!

    We open tomorrow night for the 2010 season…can’t wait!


  9. May 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    You’re welcome! Thank you for all the comments, and for reminding me that the 2010 season is starting soon! I have to talk to the hubby about a date we can visit. Can’t wait to write Vino in the Valley Restaurant Review…the sequel 😀


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