The Lake Winnebago Region has no shortage of things I enjoy: wineries, distilleries, and ice cream. If you can relate, you are in the right spot.
One thing about me is that I LOVE a local winery. I love learning the stories of where they began and I love tasting lots of different wines. While I was in the Lake Winnebago Region, we stopped by two wineries and I loved them both.
Ziegler Winery is located in Malone, Wisconsin on the east side of Lake Winnebago. The tasting room sits on a huge vineyard - approximately 12 acres and 7,000 vines. Their tasting room is one of the largest in the state of Wisconsin with two stories and a few fireplaces to help you relax. There is plenty of room for big groups making this a perfect spot for a special occasion get together. They also have an outdoor patio set up with a live music stage for entertainment during the summer months.
We ordered a flight of wines to taste. They have so many options to choose from! I am usually a red wine drinker, but I loved the 2020 La Crescent wine. It was so fruity and flavorful. They serve food here as well, mostly appetizers - their Bavarian Pretzel is to die for.
The second winery we had the pleasure of visiting was Vines & Rushes Winery located in Ripon, Wisconsin. This space was also quite large - a room for sampling, an event space, and a room with lots of tables and chairs. They have live music here as well with a stage indoors.
We did a wine tasting and learned a lot about how the winery came about and the history of the wines. My favorite wine was the Brianna 2020 wine - named after one of the winemakers’ daughters. Vines and Rushes is known for the wood-fired pizza and I knew by the delicious smells alone they would not disappoint.
If you are not a wine drinker and prefer hard liquor, Ledgerock Distillery is here to save the day. They are located in Fond du Lac and distill vodka, bourbon, moonshine and gin. We sampled a few of the options and I was impressed by how smooth they were. They know what they're doing!
There is a gift shop inside as well as a small bar to order a cocktail. There are tables in the building and picnic tables outside. The weather was nice enough that we were able to spend some time in the sun and enjoy our drinks. The distillery is located in more of a secluded area, and it was nice to sit back and relax.
Since we're in Wisconsin, I obviously have to talk about dairy in the Lake Winnebago Region. LaClare Creamery was one of my favorite spots on this trip. If you are unfamiliar, LaClare produces mainly goat cheese and has won several awards for their delicious creations.
We were able to tour the facility which includes an event space, a full greenhouse, a large barn with goats, a café, and a gift shop. There is so much to do! LaClare also hosts different events such as goat yoga, grilled cheese competition, and artisan markets. The café has a wonderfully unique menu, and each item is served using some type of cheese. They also make ice cream in-house if you are looking for a sweet treat.
Speaking of sweet treats, if you are in the Lake Winnebago Region area, there are two ice cream stops you HAVE to make. The first is Gilles Drive-in located in Fond du Lac. It's an old school drive-in serving up some of the best food and ice cream around. They've been open since 1949!
I ordered a sundae with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, graham crackers and brownie bites... YUM. The drive-in itself is such an experience.
The second spot you must visit in the Lake Winnebago Region for ice cream is Kelley Country Creamery. They are in Fond du Lac and refer to themselves as the "best ice cream in the middle of nowhere." They have a menu of rotating flavors which are sure to please anyone.
It seemed to me like it is a place that always draws a crowd, but the line moves quickly so don’t let it deter you. There is seating inside but also several picnic tables and rocking chairs outside to enjoy your ice cream in the sun. I ordered a double scoop in a waffle cone, and it was by far the most generous double scoop I have ever received. Kelley Creamery was voted Best Ice Cream Shop by Good Morning America and named among the top 10 ice cream places in the nation by People Magazine.