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Stable Rock Winery

Jefferson, WI

 

Crusin' Rating: B-

Booze Rating: B-

 
Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- Stable Rock Winery Outside

This week, Hannah and I took a short trip out to Jefferson, WI, (about 35 minutes from Madison) to visit Stable Rock Winery & Distillery. Standing along the rock river in what was historically, you guessed it, a stable! I know we have been two several places with “rock” in their name and trust us, we too thought that this was a play on that same theme of Devil's Lake. Since there is a Balanced Rock and Tumbled Rock, a Stable rock would have completed the triumvirate and been a nice trio. Unfortunately, none of the three places are related in anything other than name and this one refers to horses rather than firm footing. That aside, we were excited to make our second trip here. Our initial trip was a social gathering in which we took the space and company in, rather than take notes. We’ve made the trip out to Jefferson more than once and are fond of Heron’s Landing for a spot to meet family when they come from the Milwaukee area.


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- Stable Rock Winery- Bar

The outside of Stable Rock is straightforward enough, an all white-brick building, windows with muntins, and a wooden door give you the distinct feeling of looking at one of the early German-inspired buildings you can see in many towns in Wisconsin that call back to our European-immigrant heritage. Hannah and I both enjoy older buildings that have been either restored or tastefully reimagined, this is the former. The inside of this historic building features a large staircase leading downstairs (closed at the time of writing) that houses a secondary bar and outdoor access. Entering the main room of the winery you can find stands of winery gifts and knick-knacks and then the large serving bar. Off to the left is the kitchen and to your right is the seating area that feature narrow tables. There’s a door on the same wall as the main entrance that leads out onto a small iron-wrought fence patio that creeps into what would otherwise be parking. The concrete patio isn’t my favorite, since it offers little to no view of the river and you’re essentially surrounded by pavement and cars and the backs of other buildings, but at least it’s outside. As for the inside, there's plenty of dark wood and I would call it casual. It reminds me very much of a grandparents dining room for some reason, perhaps the style of chairs (think bow back or Windsor dining chairs). Our favorite spot though is the plush, slightly worn leather sofa and two chairs around a low slung square table near a large window that overlooks the river and bike path. On both our trips, we were able to snag this spot, relax, chat, and take in some sunlight and views. The view isn’t perfect, with a bridge, pedestrian bridge, and one other building sneaking into parts of the view, but it’s one of the only water views we have come across in our travels so far!




The feeling here is always casual and both times we have visited it has been a little slow, which we are thankful for since that usually means we get the place to ourselves. I can easily see this space getting loud when there are two or three groups in the upstairs space as we were able to hear some shouting from employees who were working downstairs. The staff that we have met are always pleasant. Take note that this place does serve food with a menu that features cheese boards, Bavarian pretzels, warm dips, and other, what I would say are pretty German inspired heavy snacks (which I always love). They also have salads, hot grilled sandwiches, and wood-fired pizzas. While the pizzas can get pricey (up to 18 dollars), the sandwiches, served with German potato salad are reasonable at $12 and the snacks are reasonable too as long as you shy away from the big $35 snack board featuring fancy elk sausages. Since they also are a distillery you can get cocktails made with their spirits and they have a selection of beers, their own wines, and soda options as well.


A flight here ran $10 each (4 samples) and I would say the pours were generous when it came to wine which I guessed were 4 oz each, maybe even a 5 oz in there. Alternatively, you could get a 1 oz pour of each spirit which is pretty in line with most distilleries (most pours I have seen are 2 oz at anywhere from $8-10). Our server generously let me get away with a 2 or 3 oz pour of the bourbon as the bottle was almost gone which made my afternoon!


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- Stable Rock Winery- Wine Flight

I could not find ABV’s for any of the wines which is a shame.


Wine

Rock River Red - This wine was a deep burgundy and smelled of black cherries and raspberries, almost sweet enough to smell like Luxardo cherry syrup. It tasted very similar to that flavor as well without the complexity of any of those Marasca cherries that are usually included in Luxardo jars. Don’t picture maraschino here at all for a flavor, but rather something sweet and rich without being overly sweet but it was still very one-note in flavor. We were hoping to taste a bit more depth in this one.


Rock River White - This white had a nose full of apricot, melon, and canned pineapple. All sorts of flavors abounded with creamy banana, apricot, juicy melon and tangy guava, this wine was both bright and sweet. Hannah describes this as a perfect wine to sip with girlfriends, an excellent summer patio wine.


Miss Kitty’s - This garnet red wine tasted EXACTLY like the dragon fruit “flavored” SoBes (in quotes because I have strong feelings on dragon fruit flavor) I used to buy after searching the couches for spare change. This wine tastes of red berries but with zero depth whatsoever, with almost sinisterly sweet pomegranate notes hidden in there as if you’re being watched. For my money, if you want this really, really niche flavor, go to the gas station and take a trip down memory lane with the Sobe, and no we aren’t sponsored. Hannah suggested it might make a fine wine slushy in summer but that would be its most redeeming factor.


Blacksmith’s Trio - This garnet wine was identical in color to Miss Kitty’s but smelled of oaky vanilla and smokey campfire . It features Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese grapes. You can pick up notes of charred oak, red currants, raspberries and cherries with some slight acidity and manageable tannins that round out the finish. Hannah enjoyed the complexity and richness of depth in this wine and would have bought a bottle if not for the $25 price tag which is fairly steep for a Wisconsin wine.


Eiswein - This white dessert wine smells heavily of apricot and of thick mangoes. You can taste honey and overly ripe blended mango in the body along with a small zing of apricot juice. Very sweet, very juicy, and mildly bright. Hannah also picked up notes of oranges and lemon candy in the finish. This one is Hannah approved.


Spirits

Goat Island Vodka (40% ABV) - This corn vodka is twice distilled and certified organic. It’s distilled only twice to let the flavor come through. I wish it was distilled more. I love sweet flavors coming through in my whiskey but I thoroughly detest them coming through in my vodka. Vodka should be clear, crisp, clean tasting or virtually tasteless and you’ll never convince me otherwise no matter how many craft distilleries try and sell their unique spin on a flavorful vodka. This vodka, due to its low distillation, smelled of nail polish cranked to eleven and was incredibly harsh then followed by corn sweetness which led to a very unpleasant trip down a different memory lane to freshman year at UW-Madison taking shots of very suspect origin. Skip this if you value your tastebuds.


The decent part about this is the backstory. Apparently there is an island at the confluence of the Crawfish and Rock Rivers that has invasive plants so the City of Jefferson introduced goats onto the island in summer to control the growth. Check it out in the summer! [Read more about it here]


Horse Thief 5 year Bourbon (50% ABV) - 100 proof Bourbon named after a horse thief that stole a horse in Jefferson once upon a time in the west, this bourbon is 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% barley malt. Light caramel in color you can smell honeyed oak and gentle notes of toffee on the nose. This bourbon was alcohol forward, clumsily so and that bite was present throughout each sip that almost drowned out some end impressions of brown sugar, caramel, and honey. I wanted more sweetness out of a bourbon with such a high corn percentage. I’ve had bourbons in Wisconsin all the way up to 65% ABV that still manage to remain smooth with a decent burn instead of the harshness this one offers. I’d skip this one.


Boll’s Livery Rye Peanut Butter Whiskey (35% ABV) - I always appreciate a locally made product that goes up against some name brand stuff and if it wasn’t for a friend-of-a-family-friend connection to Screwball, which is quite a wild story in and of itself, I would be fully behind a product like this. As it stands, I have a personal soft spot for Screwball as it was the first Peanut Butter Whiskey I’d ever tasted. This is a decent local contender though, a little sweeter and a little more watery without that mouth-coating feel. I found the richness of the nose here to not match the body of this whiskey, which is too bad. That being said, it’s the first local peanut butter whiskey we’ve run across so if that is your party shot of choice and you want to drink local then check it out.


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- Stable Rock Winery- View of the River

Hannah had a lot more luck with her wine tasting than I had with my spirits. I can’t strongly recommend any of the spirits but Hannah found a wine or two she would drink again. I’ve had a cocktail before and they are okay (the spirits really shine through which in this instance, isn’t great) but Hannah, the Prankster, and I have all enjoyed eating lunch here. If it’s quiet enough you can have a decent conversation and enjoy a view of the river or even sit outside on a warm day. Even though I didn’t love the spirits I can fully recommend a trip out here from Madison or Milwaukee.


A Crusin' For Booze Trip Itinerary Suggestion:

  1. Lunch at Heron’s Landing or Stable Rock

  2. Short drive back to Cambridge for a cocktail or Rye at Dancing Goat Distillery

  3. A one block walk to Cambridge Winery (coming soon) for the ladies to enjoy snacks into the late afternoon

  4. Have the DD drive everyone to Cottage Grove to take in another cocktail and enjoy the early evening sun at Doundrin’s Distilling Cocktail Garden (also coming soon)

  5. A short drive north to end the night with dinner at Chicken Lick’s or BB Jack’s



Remember, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!


To learn more about Stable Rock Winery, please visit their website at: www.stablerockwinery.com or on Facebook: @StableRockWinery

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