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Botham Vineyards & Winery

Barneveld, WI

 

Crusin’ rating: B+

Booze Rating: C

 
Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Beer Wine Blogger- Botham Winery- Entrance

This week, Hannah and I decided to get our hike on at the lesser known, as opposed to ever-popular Governor Dodge , Blue Mounds State Park. Before venturing out for our hike we opted to take in some fuel at the surprisingly solid Ope Haus Pub and stop off at a little winery just outside of Barneveld, WI for a little alternative hydration. Botham Vineyards and Winery is located on the cusp of what we fondly recognize as Driftless territory at the top of a steep hill. While we have traveled out here before en route to state parks, our initial foray was prior to the blog and prior to some cosmetic improvements by the winery owners.


Nested at the top of the hill, you drive up past some vines to what amounts to a farmed homestead that every time always gives the impression of going up someone’s driveway (not unlike Hubbleton Brewing). Although cars are parked outside the barn, which serves as the tasting room, it’s not apparent where you’re going. Outside of a small flag that can somewhat be hidden by bushes, I’ve always wished there’s some sort of sign to leave no question as to where the tasting room is located on the property, especially so for non-regulars. That quibble aside, the barn is fairly standard in appearance outside. A ramped walkway leads you into the tasting room and past a newly added outdoor patio area that is located beneath the tasting room. This entire area is newly renovated and a huge improvement since the last time we were there, although Hannah says my memory is slightly foggy and it’s only been updated. To be fair, it may have been covered in snow on our last visit.



Anyway, inside the barn, which is the top floor of the barn since it’s built into the side of a hill, is a tasting room with a fairly standard layout: two small bars, the usual winery gift shop, and a sales counter. What does stand out is the large antique gas station signage and decorations which gives the impression that this space has some history.



What stood out to us at this spot was really the two girls working behind the counter, their cheerful demeanor and eagerness to talk “shop” with us, along with their extensive knowledge of their wines made us feel like we hadn’t strayed far from home at all. Rather, both girls are attending UW- Madison currently so swapping suggestions of places to try cocktails, foodie spots to explore, and various other recommendations over glasses of wine is an excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Conversations that can take place at a winery just as well as with strangers you’ve met at State Street are always a sure way to pass our vibe check.


While they did have non-alcoholic options and limited snacks in a fridge, this winery primarily serves wine with no options for cocktails. While we did appreciate some of the estate grown-wines and local grape varietals that we focused on below, Botham has many wines that contain grapes shipped in from the Fingerlakes in New York which is always a bummer when spots don’t keep it local even in a generational family business. The estate grapes are kept on approximately 10 acres and their reds are grown in “Field 3” which you pass when entering the winery.


Field 3 2020 - This robust red that features Leon Millot grapes that give an aroma of rich dried fruit -think figs and raisins - and some oakiness. I picked up medium high-tannins, that raisin again, along with a little cherry in the finish. Neither Hannah nor I were in love with this one. I found it too sweet still to be a dry red.


Pure Bred Red - This Marechel Foch (noted, not a Wisconsin grape, but grown on the estate) seems to contradict it’s namesake and labeling which suggest all Wisconsin. I would’ve liked a Elmer Swenson cultivar or at least something out of Minnesota for this one. This wine shone cranberry-garnet in the light with some oak, red berries, and a little pepper on the nose. I found earthy notes of raspberry when tasting. Overall, I found this to be a flabby let-down.


All Day Rosé - I’ll hand it to the vitners on this one, if ever a wine smelled like dandelions, this is it, which isn’t an unpleasant smell believe it or not and not one I’d typically expect from wine. This rosé was delicate as some of the wildflowers I picked up on the scent with a little toffee sweetness coupled with some juicy strawberries. Hannah deemed this one decent.


Moscato - Fondly dubbed " a porch pounder" by one of the girls behind the counter, this white was, of course, sweet, easy drinking and full of peach, green apples, and strawberries with a nose bursting of red summer fruit. I could easily see anyone sitting with a bottle of this on the porch and, before you know it, it's completely gone. Hannah was a fan.


In all, Botham really passed the vibe check thanks to our two hosts. The outdoor space has been used for some fun things such as: wine yoga, paint and sips, bachelorette parties, and girls’ nights. I could easily see it being a space that would be excellent for events like that, given summer weather. The wine, for me, was somewhat uninspired and it was a major letdown that so many opportunities to use local cultivars were wholly ignored plus the fact that over half the wines used grapes from out of state. I will say that the wines were affordable, topping out at $16 dollars for the most expensive bottle so I can easily see that making for a lovely boozy night out at one of these events. We will most likely end up going back and trying again with friends, if only because it’s the only winery in the area. Hannah said she enjoyed some of the wines enough to make it a girls night in the future and with it only 30 minutes from Madison and affordable it’s hard to argue, especially with state parks so nearby to work off some of that booze weight!


If you’re looking for a girls’ night that doesn’t involve the pricey-ness of Bailey’s Run and a somewhat quieter venue I’d say try this place out. However, Hannah, being the planner of said girls’ nights really has the final say which is.


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


To learn more about Botham vineyards and Winery please visit their website at: www.bothamvineyards.com or on Facebook: @BothamVineyards or on Instagram: @Botham_Vineyards

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