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Baraboo Bluff Winery

Baraboo, Wisconsin

 

Crusin’ Rating: B

Booze Rating: B-

 

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Winery Blogger- Baraboo Bluff Winery- View from Parking Lot

This week we are checking out our first winery of 2024!  It’s been a while since we’ve done a winery review; our last one was all the way back in July of 2023!  In our experience, wineries are a little more subject to seasonal hours than a lot of breweries or distilleries.  We’ve always chalked this up to the fact that wineries tend to focus a lot more on their outdoor spaces than breweries as a general rule, although there are always exceptions, but it means we tend to get the most out of winery visits in the warmer months!  Coincidentally, Baraboo Bluff, started in 2015, is one of a handful of wineries that we know of that keep fairly standard hours year round.  Since it was an unseasonably warm day, we figured what better way than to go against the grain and check out a winery at the end of February?


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Winery Blogger- Baraboo Bluff Winery- Walking in to the tasing room with Barlow

While maybe not located at the edge of a bluff as its name suggests, Baraboo Bluff winery is certainly in the hills to the west of Baraboo, WI.  So much so that we ended up a lot closer to Mead King Meadery in Rock Springs, WI than we realized.  Down some country roads and right across from a farm with a very enthusiastic, but possibly confused rooster, Baraboo Bluff Winery sits nestled just off the crest of a steep hill overlooking its own vines.  While the walk up to the winery might give you some pause amidst snow - it’s a little steep - it pays off when you admire the view you get from their outdoor space and from several tall windows in their tasting room.  We’ve been to Baraboo Bluff early on and didn’t appreciate the view at the time, but this time we were all about it.


Walking up to the tasting room at Baraboo Bluff, you walk past rows of vines.  Sitting a little higher up on the hill is a metal, partially open-air pavilion with tables under the roof and a handful of picnic tables outside, sitting around 60 guests and even including a bench that sits facing the vines.  Quite the upgrade from our original trip where there was no outdoor seating at all, much less a pavilion complete with a stage.  The winery is dog-friendly, so Barlow was eager to get inside and see what the tasting room is all about.


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Winery Blogger- Baraboo Bluff Winery- Inside the tasting room

The tasting room space is dominated by three “U”-shaped bars that offer plenty of space for guided tastings should the winery be busy on a weekend.  We were fortunate enough to be the only ones there, but it was relatively close to closing time when we arrived. One bar was manned during our review by an accommodating and friendly winetender who was happy to guide us through any tastings and help us settle on what Hannah’s palate was craving for our review.  There are tall windows that were letting in plenty of natural light which as awesome as the days begin to turn longer coming out of winter.  There are wine racks, seating for around 25 inside, and a small corner of swag and wine-related items.  It’s clear that the tasting is the most important aspect and I can easily picture groups crowding around one of the three serving bars as the winetender walks them through the selection.  It was a big plus for us to be able to order a flight and complete our review - last time it was guided tasting only which always makes for a slightly awkward review.


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Winery Blogger- Baraboo Bluff Winery- Wine Flight
Left to Right: 2022 Frontenac Gris, 2023 Itasca, Rose of the Bluff, 2023 Sweet Serendipity

Out of 16 wines, we chose 4 for our flight, at the cost of $10, which is what a flight of smaller samples of 7 wines will run you for a guided tasting.  We stuck to wines made with estate-grown grapes but I would say the majority of their wines are made with grapes shipped in from New York's Finger Lakes region.  Bottled water, soda, and pre-packaged snacks are available and while we didn’t specifically inquire about carry-in food, our bet is it’s allowed, at least outside.  


It’s been a while since we reviewed wine, so forgive our tastebuds being slightly rusty.


2022 Frontenac Gris (12.0% ABV) - This off-dry white, with the color of creamy gold and lemon and pineapple on the nose.  Notes of tropical fruit and candied lemon were also present when tasting and we noted fairly high acidity and a citrusy finish.  Hannah was a fan of this one.


2023 Itasca (13.0% ABV) - This white wine comes from the Itasca grape cultivar, named for the source lake of the Mississippi River.  Developed in 2017 at the University of Minnesota, the Itasca grape is known for its hardiness in cold climates.  This wine had lots of honeydew melon on the nose and we picked up on a little pear.  Similarly, lots of green melon when tasting which made for a mellow semi-sweet wine with notably lower acidity than the Frontenac.  There were citrus notes at the end that really stuck around long after tasting.


Rose of the Bluff (11.5% ABV) - This red is a mix of Petite Pearl and St. Pepin grapes.  St. Pepin, of course being developed by Wisconsin’s own Elmer Swenson.  This was a wine the color of Valentine’s Day pink when held to the light and featured jammy and juicy strawberry and cherry on the nose.   Notes of strawberry, pomegranate, and slightly tart cherry could be found when tasting and I’d say the tannins were relatively mild.  This one was my preference of the four we tasted.  Though I will note we really had to search for the cherry in this one and we’d both agree this is a more strawberry and other red fruit as far as aroma and taste - the description touts a lot of cherry.


2023 Sweet Serendipity (13.0% ABV) - This blend of LaCrosse (another from Swenson!) and Frontenac Grapes poured almost magenta pink in the glass.  Featuring lots of sweet fruit notes of raspberry and strawberry,  this wine tasted of juicy notes of red raspberries, without any of the tartness and without being too sickly sweet.  I don’t know if Hannah and I will ever be huge fans of dessert wine - except maybe a glass of port here and there in winter - but I will say this one wasn’t so sweet as to be unfinishable.  


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Winery Blogger- Baraboo Bluff Winery- Cru and Barlow enjoying a glass of wine
Barlow Approved

You know, this is going to be a winery that I would go back to.  Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells have a plethora of wineries and I will say that this is one that has grapes that are grown right here in Wisconsin which not all of them can say.  They have a sister winery we need to check out to see if they are any good, and I will say that this is a spot that offers a respite from all of the fruit wines that often plague the Wisconsin wine scene.  The staff on each trip have been down to earth and unfussy and the view really is nice - this stop made for a pleasant, quiet afternoon on a day that saw some record high temps and was a perfect spot for our little group to watch the sunset.  If you’re doing a wine tour of the area from Madison or Milwaukee or coming to the dells, I would recommend making a stop out here.


Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!


To learn more about Baraboo Bluff winery please visit their website at: baraboobluffwinery.com or on Facebook: @BarabooBluffWinery or on Instagram: @BarabooBluffWinery

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