Girl on the Go: Eagle’s Landing

In an effort to visit 11 wineries on the Great River Road Wine Trail, we’ve started planning our next stop. At the beginning of July we traveled to Danzinger Winery and Seven Hawks Winery. Our next stop is going to be at a winery in Iowa called Eagle’s Landing.

Below is an image of the wine trail. My Girl on the Go adventure this week is to travel to Eagle’s Landing. We are hoping to make it there before the end of August.

Great River Road Wine Trail Map

Eagles Landing Winery

Today’s Haiku:

meandering road
tires thumping on cracked concrete—
road crew up ahead


Any roadtrips planned for the summer?

Are you looking for Bucket list items? Check out some of mine here. Or, feel free to suggest a fun activity for my list! I love adventure!


My Heart is Calm

Happy Monday!

Hubby and I spent our sixth anniversary at two wineries on Saturday. Our goal is to visit 11 total before the end of the year. We started our tour at Danzinger Winery and Seven Hawks Winery with a couple of our friends.

Both wineries were in Wisconsin along the Mississippi River. Danzinger was by far our favorite. There was a lot of seating inside and out. We tasted four or five wines and then we purchased a bottle of wine to split. We also nibbled on some cheese, crackers and olives while we chatted about the nice weather and our up and coming move at the end of the month.

Seven Hawks Winery was very small. I actually enjoyed sipping the port style wines more than the wine at Seven Hawks. Below are a few images from our visit to Danzinger Winery.

Danzinger Winery July 4, 2015

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Danzinger Winery July 4, 2015


As always, I have included a haiku with a Haiku Horizons prompt.

Thanks Haiku Horizons for the haiku prompt, “calm.”

calm haiku

Today’s Haiku:

my heart is calm
my head is clear and awake
dreams are focused


What are your travel goals for the summer?


Girl on the Go: Wineries in Wisconsin Part 1

It’s wine season again, and I have lots of fun scheduleded for the next several months. Oh, who am I kidding, it’s always wine season, but it’s more fun to travel to the local vineyards when the weather is nice.

I love sitting outside under umbrellas sipping wine and looking out at the vineyards or the Mississipi River. This summer I am going to attempt to visit all 11 wineries on the Great River Road Wine Trail. This trail runs along the Mississippi River. There are six wineries in Wisconsin, four in Minnesota and one in Iowa.

There is actually a passport you can pick up from any of the wineries and have it stamped every time you visit a winery. After you visit all 11, you can sign up to win a case of wine that includes a bottle from each vineyard, plus an additional bottle from one of the wineries.

I wrote about the wine trail in the March/April edition of Rochester Women magazine. You can read it here: Join the Club.

Below is an image of the wine trail. I can’t wait to start the journey tomorrow! Yes, my Girl on the Go adventure this week is to travel to Danzinger Vineyard and Seven Hawks Vineyard.

Great River Road Wine Trail Map

Today’s Haiku:

lazy summer days
grapes plumping on the vines—
sipping sweet nectar


Do you enjoy summer wine sipping at vineyards?

Are you looking for Bucket list items? Check out some of mine here. Or, feel free to suggest a fun activity for my list! I love adventure!


Brunch at Four Daughters Winery

My deadline for the next RW wine column is this Friday. My friend Kathy and I went to Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery and Villa Bellezza last weekend to taste Sparkling Cider and Sparkling Wine—the featured wine for the January/February edition. This is the best research project I have ever been given. Seriously.

Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery

A cozy and casual location for tasting sparkling cider.


VIlla Bellezza Winery

An elegant villa found in Wisconsin.

This past weekend I took my husband to Four Daughters to research their Sparkling Cider and Sparkling Moscato. We decided to eat while we were there.

Brunch at 4 Daughters Winery

Brunch was wonderful! Yes, brunch. I was drinking/researching before noon. This hasn’t happened in years—the drinking before noon part. Many years. There were so many interesting items on the menu. The waitress said they change the menu everyday! How fun for a chef! Lots of creativity.

We ordered deviled eggs as an appetizer. They were delicious. There was a hint of horseradish in the filling! How clever to use a bit of the filling to anchor the eggs to the plate. The eggs were garnished with pickles.

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My entrée was tasty! I ordered a salmon and feta frittata! It came with potatoes and wheat toast.

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My hubby had a rib entrée with poached eggs on top. His also came with wheat toast and potatoes.

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It was one of the best meal that I have eaten in quite some time. I spoke with the owner afterward and obtained a few quotes for the article and then we were on our way back home to cuddle with our two kitty cats!

There will be more details on the Sparkling Wines and Ciders in the next edition of Rochester Women.

Sparkling Libations Haiku

Raise your glass;
sip bubbles at the party.

Has anyone tried Sparkling Hard Cider? 


November is in Full Force

What’s up November?

A few days behind…

My first piece for the Rochester Women wine column is coming out in November. The article features Dessert Wines. The latest edition hasn’t been posted on the website. When it’s available I will share it right here at The Whispering Pen.

My first article for Radish Magazine, a healthy living magazine, is available today. The article is about the healing power of Reiki.

I donated a painting to a foundation called Hello Gorgeous. It is a non-profit organization that provides complimentary, professional makeovers and cosmetic education to all women battling all cancers.

A woman from St. Charles is getting a make-over and the ladies hosting it wanted to have a painting for her friends and family to sign.

Hello Gorgeous painting I donated to the non-profit organization.

Denise and I are hosting another Wine & Canvas Event on November 15th. This is our fourth event! We are painting a Rustic Tree. Here’s a sneak peek!

Wine & Canvas Rustic Tree

Rustic Tree Haiku

Off in the distance
a tree is drenched in rich hues.
Winter skies are near.

I’ll be traveling to a few local wineries for the next edition of Rochester Women Magazine. We are featuring Sparkling Moscato and Sparkling Cider.

And finally, what am I reading? A true crime book by Anne Rule, The Stranger Beside Me: The shocking inside story of serial killer Ted Bundy.

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

I literally went to Barnes and Noble and asked an associate for a book that would scare the bejeezus out of me. I told her that I wanted to be scared to go to sleep at night! I love all things creepy.

Oh, there will be several haiku poems to round out the month! Here’s to a great start to the week!

What’s everyone reading?


Wine Tasting at Elmaro Winery

Saturday was simply amazing! The sun was shining, the temperatures hovered around 70 degrees, and there was a light breeze. Adlai and I decided to spend the day wine tasting and enjoying the beautiful day, so I know you’ll forgive me for not posting my Haiku yesterday. Don’t worry, I have two haiku poems that I’ll post today. But first, a few notes from our day at the winery.

Last summer, we stumbled upon this quaint little winery in Trempeleau, Wisconsin. We loved the wine, so we wanted to indulge in a little of their cold hardy grape wines again.

Elmaro winery in Trempeleau, Wisconsin

Elmaro winery in Trempeleau, Wisconsin

Wine Tasting at Elmaro Winery

Once we arrived at Elmaro, we found a spot at the tasting bar. We selected seven different wines. We began with the drier wines first and moved down the list to the sweeter wines. I like sweet wines more than dry wines, so all of my choices were between semi-sweet and sweet. Adlai had a few more of the drier wines selected.

The first one I tasted was called Three Cheers. I loved this semi-sweet red. It was light and simple and perfect for sipping at any time. The West Prairie White was light and tangy with slight citrus undertones. The Edleweiss was a semi-sweet with hints of pineapple. This was also an easy drinking wine.

The next wine I tried was the Frontenac Gris. This was a full sweet white, like a Moscato. I typically like Moscato, but this was almost too heavy, too sweet. The Elmaro Rosa tasted like grape juice, but apparently won a lot of awards. What do I know?

The fifth wine was called Currant Affair. This one was lovely. Hints of strawberry and currants. Light, easy and fun to drink!

The last two were the Reserve Wines. The LaCrescent Faux Ice Wine was a sweet dessert wine with notes of apricot, peach and pineapple. Outstanding. And, The Fire of 1888 Reserve, which we ended up purchasing, is a port style wine made with Frontenac grapes. It was buttery and warm.

Award winning wines at Elmaro winery in Trempeleau, Wisconsin.

Award winning wines at Elmaro winery.

After we were finished tasting, we ordered hors d’oeuvres that included a rich, creamy, French Brie, Prairie Breeze cheese, Sartori Gold Cheddar/Parmesan, Cranberry Sausage, Jalapeno Sausage, Dalmatia Fig Spread and crackers. It was a wonderful treat!

Tasty snacks from Elmaro kitchen.

Tasty snacks from Elmaro kitchen.

Once we finished the tasting, we went out to the patio to enjoy our hors d’oeuvres.

Enjoying the day Elmaro Winery.

Full tummy, excellent wine and a beautiful day with my husband.

Wine tasting at Elmaro Winery

My handsome and somewhat goofy husband enjoying the 1888 Reserve.

It was one of those days that you don’t want to end. If there happened to be any stress from the week, it disappeared. There were no deadlines, there were no chores and there wasn’t a dirty house that needed to be cleaned. It was my husband and I spoiling our taste buds and talking about everything and nothing.

On our way out, I noticed this little quote painted on the wall at the winery.

Wine is bottle poetry

When it was time to leave we walked through the vineyards to admire the grapes that would soon be next year’s wine.

Hanging out in the Elmaro vineyards.

Hanging out in the vineyards.

Elmaro Vineyard

Adlai hanging out with the grapes in the Elmaro Vineyard.

And now for the haiku challenge…

I thought it was only appropriate to base haiku six and seven on the beautiful day Adlai and I had at the winery.

Luscious grapes at Elmaro winery.

Luscious grapes at Elmaro winery.

Day 6: Haiku Challenge

Plump, juicy, luscious.
Grapes sparkle in the sunlight,
harvest approaching.

A yellow hibiscus plant greeted us at Elmaro Vineyard.

A yellow hibiscus plant greeted us at Elmaro Vineyard.

Day 7: Haiku Challenge

Golden Hibiscus.
Delicate petals warming
in the radiant sun.

What are your favorite vineyards?





Women and Wine

About a month ago, the editor for Rochester Women Magazine asked if I would write an article for the column GoDo! The column is based on getting your friends together, picking an activity and doing it — hence GoDo! This activity was based on wine tasting at three local wineries. I accepted the challenge and when the article comes out in September 2014, I’ll post a link to the Rochester Women website.

Several women who have worked with the magazine in some capacity, were invited to attend. Many of them invited a friend to go along. My partner in crime was unable to make it, but it was probably for the best so I could concentrate.

We met at the Rochester Athletic Club around 3:15. We hopped on the Rochester Trolley and at 3:30, we began our journey.

Rochester, Minnesota Trolley Winery Tour

Rochester Trolley Tours is a great way to travel throughout the area.

The trolley windows were open and a warm breeze flooded the inside. I sat up front, I am always fearful of getting carsick. As a child, car rides and I didn’t mix. I was always drugged up on Dramamine with my neck bobbing as I nodded off. As an adult, I haven’t really experienced carsickness, but I am always in the front seat. I decided not to test the waters today.

Our first stop was Post Town Winery in Rochester, Minnesota. It was a charming little building in an unlikely spot. It was situated in an industrial park, but it didn’t take away from the charm of this little nook.

Post Town Winery, Rochester MN.

Rochester women visit Post Town Winery.

We were given a warm welcome by Bonita Patton, a co-owner. She was elated to have us and was eager to give us the nickel tour. I was surprised to see they age their wine in plastic containers, but I am not a wine aficionado yet, so I kept my mouth closed. She spoke about their future plans to expand into the next room to support a small kitchen so they could serve more food.

After the tour, she led us to the patio and our drinking commenced. Their wine was not my favorite, but Bonita was a lovely women and I tried to stay positive about the experience. After all, my job was to write about going and doing, not whether or not I liked the wine.

Post Town Winery, Rochester MN

Steve Patton, co-owner, pulling a bottle of wine from the shelf.

I jotted down a few notes while the gals laughed talked about the magazine and other ideas for GoDo! We nibbled on crackers, cheese and chocolate for the better part of an hour. But, we were on a pretty tight schedule since we had two other wineries to visit, so we had to shake a leg.

As I stood up to leave there was a sweat mark on my slinky dress, close to my belly button. I could only imagine what my butt looked like at this point. I told myself I would sit on the edge of the seat in the trolley and squeeze my cheeks, then there wouldn’t be a spot for sweat to sit and soak into my dress.

Our next stop was Salem Glen Winery. We were welcomed by a shy, gracious man named Dustin Ebert. He and his father owned the winery. The deck was spacious and overlooked beautiful landscaping and the vineyard. It’s just what you would imagine any winery to look like.

Spacious deck at Salem Glen

Rochester Women gathered on the spacious deck at Salem Glen Winery.

Salem Glen Winery, Rochester MN

The vineyard at Salem Glen Winery.

Salem Glen winery decor

Everything about Salem Glen was beautiful!

Heidi was our sommelier. Her rail thin frame was encased in an aqua blue lace dress with tan cowboy boots. Her voice was soft and kind, but audible. She knew a lot about the wine; how it was aged, the elements of each wine, the finish and what to pair with it.

After the first couple of wines had been delivered she brought out this beautiful plate of sourdough bread with olive oil dipping sauce. There was cheese, olives and fruit. So delicious! And their wines were all very tasty…with the exception of one oaky wine that I hated. I hate oak, a little or a lot, I hate it.

Delicious sourdough bread, infused olive oil and grated parmesean cheese

The olive oil was infused with lemon and lime. Mmmm, delish!

Salem Glen was a place I would like to visit again. They offered seating all year around, for birthday parties, corporate events, mayo clinic related events and lots of others. Dustin was very proud of the winery. The grapes they used in their wine were the cold, hardy grapes that survive the Minnesota winters. He was proud of this because it sets them apart from the other wineries in Minnesota.

Once again, we were a slave to the clock. We hurried back to the trolley and we were on our way to the last winery, Four Daughters Winery. I have been excited to visit this winery for several years. It is on highway 63 about 20 miles south of Rochester.  Adlai and I pass this winery every time we drive to my parent’s home in Missouri.

The structure is urban and contemporary and situated next to the vineyard. As we walked toward the winery, I picked up the pace; I wasn’t sure if I was excited about the wine, which I knew nothing about, or if I was excited to see what the inside looked like.

Four Daughters Winery

An urban, contemporary structure out in the country. BEAUTIFUL!

The inside was reminiscent of the exterior; concrete and steel, though the colors were warm. It was loud inside and they needed something fabric on the walls or floors. It was difficult to converse with the ladies after we sat down.

Four Daughters Winery

Wine storage inside Four Daughters Winery.

At one point, I started whining about the fact that I was almost 40 and a woman asked if I had kids. I said that I had fur kids. She thought I said four kids. I had to say it a couple of times and finally I told her that my husband and I have two cats. I think she got it after that…

I watched and listened as everyone around me drank glass after glass of wine and giggled and chatted with their friends. I enjoyed the conversation, but felt a bit like the outsider. I was the one on assignment, so I had to be keen to my surroundings. Plus, I knew I should refrain from drinking too much, one, because I had to drive home, which was about a 30 minute drive. And, two, I was already exhausted (I over extended myself this month with fitness classes, writing assignments and course work for learning about WordPress) and I had to be ready and awake and in Elba, Minnesota to cover EcoFest the next day.

I was assigned to EcoFest for the St. Charles Press. I had to go early to get pictures and talk to someone in charge before the craziness started; then, I had to go back a few hours later when the festival was in full force. Of course, I had to write about the festival and turn that in on Sunday night. Plus I had to get the women and wine article that I was researching this very moment done by Monday.

We ordered food at Four Daughters when we arrived. They gave us an abbreviated menu choice because there were so many of us. I ordered the lettuce wraps. They were awesome. The chicken filling was similar to teriyaki chicken. It came with a side of cabbage and a teriyaki sauce with sesame seeds and a mayonnaise dipping sauce. My God! It was wonderful!

Lettuce Wraps at 4 Daughters Winery.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps at Four Daughters Winery.

Some of the other selections were a Provolone cheese entrée with bread, Pot Roast Tacos, Sloppy Joe Nachos-they used Kettle Chips! When our food did arrive, many of the gals were sharing food and I again wished my partner in crime (Melissa, my writer friend) could have been along to split something. Although, I am kind of picky, so I may not have liked what she picked.

Dinner was so tasty and so unique. Adlai and I haven’t been going out to dinner very often because we’ve been trying to save money. Our dinners out are usually the time to experiment with fun, new food.

I like to cook, but don’t always have the time. I am hoping someday I will have more time to experiment in the kitchen. I am sure hubby would like that too. For now, I stick to recipes I know.

Before I left the winery, I had the pleasure of talking to the owners of Four Daughters, Vicky and Gary Vogt. I found out that they decided to open the winery as a ploy to get their daughters to move back to the area. Too funny, maybe if my parents opened up a winery, I would move back to Missouri. Just kidding.

Another little tidbit I found out was that Justin Osbourne, one of their sons-in-law was the wine maker. He started out as a contractor building houses. But, when they opened the winery, he started making wine. His wine is award winning! He won the gold medal at a competition in upstate New York. His wine competed against wine makers from all over Europe. Talk about a calling…hoping my writing career takes off like this guy…

All in all this experience was amazing and I am looking forward to writing the column Women and Wine for RW magazine. My next assignment is for the November/December issue and the focus is dessert wine. Stay tuned…

Do you like wine tasting tours?

What are your favorite wines?

Monday Meal!

Good Day to All!

I had the great pleasure of going on the Trolley Wine Tour on Saturday, June 14th. I attended on behalf of Rochester Women Magazine. My friend Melissa McNallan and I are co-writing a wine column for the magazine. This was our first event that started at Johnny Mangos Catering Company. They hosted a father’s day buffet (and included our wine tour group) that included BBQ brisket, smoked salmon a beautiful and tasty fruit salad and gourmet hot dog bar with all the trimmings. For dessert, Johnny Mangoura, owner of Johnny Mango’s, created a sinful breakfast cake made with Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Butter Toffee and Rum. The cake was topped with a decadent Captain Morgan’s gooey drizzle. Oh, so, delicious!

Melissa McNallan and I on our first winery tour for Rochester Women's Magazine. The two of us will be co-writing articles about Minnesota winerys.

Melissa McNallan and I on our first winery tour for Rochester Women’s Magazine. The two of us will be co-writing articles about Minnesota winerys.


Johnny Mango’s smoked salmon, orzo salad and fruit were the first to hit my plate! I passed up all the beef they had to offer.


Johnny Mango's offered a gourmet hot dog bar, ribs and baked beans.

Johnny Mango’s offered a gourmet hot dog bar, ribs and baked beans.

BBQ brisket, hmmm, I don't like meat, but I heard it was fabulous!

BBQ brisket, hmmm, I don’t like meat, but I heard it was fabulous!

Melissa and I rode in the co-captain’s seat up in front of the trolley. Our first visit was to Cannon River Winery, in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. We tasted eight wines that ranged from sweet and fruity to more robust wines with a slight oak finish. The wines here, in my opinion, had a lot of depth and distinguishing tastes. The second winery however, Alexis Bailly Vineyard, in Hastings, Minnesota, had wine that was simple, crisp and very easy to drink. My friend Melissa on the other hand was not impressed with Alexis Bailly wines. She thought they were too boring. In her defense, there was not a lot of depth to the taste in the wines.

When we asked one of the winery employees about pairing wine with food, she mentioned that it is best to pair simple wines with simple foods. She said that you don’t want your wine to overpower your food or your food to overpower your wine. However, when you find a wine you like, stick with it and enjoy it no matter what varietal of grape you are drinking or what you are eating. Wine and good food should be a good experience and I couldn’t agree more.

Cannon River Falls Winery

The Cannon River Winery is located in a historic building that used to be a car dealership back in the 40’s.



Cannon River Winery had many wines that were very easy to drink!

Cannon River Winery had many wines that were very easy to drink!


A charming look inside of the Alexis Bailly Winery.

A charming look inside of the Alexis Bailly Winery.

There was live music playing and lovely Christmas lights that added to the ambiance.

There was live music playing and lovely Christmas lights that added to the ambiance.

It was a beautiful day and my friend Melissa and I strolled through the vineyard as we sampled wine.

It was a beautiful day and my friend Melissa and I strolled through the vineyard as we sampled wine.

That being said, if you’re looking for a tasty, healthy dinner, I’ve got a little something you might like. I found this recipe in Fitness Magazine back in the July/August 2011 issue. I finally made this about a month ago and loved it so much I made it again a week or so after that. My husband even liked it — and he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

Now, let this be noted, I don’t (but I want to) spend a lot of time cooking. I generally don’t stray too far from the recipe on the first time. When I have made it a time or two, I begin to experiment a little more. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We keep a back-up DiGiorno Pizza in the freezer. 🙂

The recipe below, in my opinion is deelish! It wasn’t too spicy, so those of you with intolerant tummies shouldn’t worry. However, if you really have sensitive tummies, a diced chicken breast or even tofu may work for you! If you want a good bottle of wine to go with it, you may try a making some sangria or a wine that is soft and fruity. At Cannon River Winery, they had a wine called GoGo Red that would be perfect for this meal. If you are a finicky wine person as I am, please note, the GoGo Red stinks, but it tastes so good. It was difficult for me to get over the initial smell, but I didn’t dump the sample, I drank it all!

Recipe: Corn and Quinoa Salad with Chicken Sausage

A quick glance at all the goodies packed into this yummy meal!

A quick glance at all the goodies packed into this yummy meal!

Makes: 4

Prep time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes chilling (We actually ate it hot and I loved it! Ok, so I strayed a little on the first time)

Cook time: 20 minutes

¾ C. uncooked quinoa

1 ¼ C. Chicken broth or Veggie broth

3 Tblsp. Olive Oil

8 oz. spicy chicken sausage or veggie sausage cut into chunks

1 medium onion, diced

1 large zucchini or 2 small, diced

2 ½ C. corn kernels

2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice (I also added lime)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

½ C. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  1. Put the quinoa and chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. While quinoa cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Addt he sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate. Add another tablespoon oil to pan, then add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and corn and cook about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender-firm.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon/lime juice, remaining oil, cumin, salt and black pepper. Add quinoa, sausage, corn-zucchini mixture and bell pepper; mix. Chill the refrigerator at least 30 minutes or up to two days (note: we ate the meal hot and it was wonderful). When ready to serve, stir in the parsley.

Nutrition facts per serving: 424 calories, 20 g protein, 51 g carbohydrate, 18g fat (3 g saturated), 6 g fiber. (note: fat content may change if you use veggie sausage)

I made this delicious meal with both Italian flavored Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Sausage.

I made this delicious meal with both Italian flavored Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Sausage.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

As always,

Stay Strong in all that you do!