Story and photography by Holly Leitner
There are so many things that make our little corner of the world special — the natural beauty, the array of outdoor activities, the restaurants and the one-of-a-kind places that offer up something truly unique. We’re especially lucky to have a selection of locally owned breweries, wineries, wine specialty shops and brew pubs, all with impressive selections, close to home. So put our long winter in the rearview mirror along with your case of cabin fever. It’s time to get out and taste!
Here’s a short roundup of popular places for sampling and savoring.
THE BOTTLE SHOP
Owner: Beth Tumas | 617 W. Main St., Lake Geneva 262-348-9463 | thebottleshop.com | HOURS: Weekdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Weekends 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Types of Tastings: Tastings are complimentary on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. Five different wine flights are available daily. Guided customized tastings are available for groups. A special event called “The Big Taste,” featuring 40 or more wines, is hosted four times per year.
Style/Format of Tastings: Each flight includes three, two-ounce pours enjoyed in any of the cozy seating areas. Guided tastings take place in the Annex. On Saturdays, wine is poured at the front table for guests to enjoy while standing.
Price Range: $9 per flight, $8-15 per glass from a flight
Available for Larger Groups? Yes. The Annex room accommodates larger groups. In warmer months, guests can use the outside patio for events.
Describe a Perfect Beer/Wine Moment: There are many. A good bottle in front of the fireplace with someone special or enjoying time with friends.
Word/Phrase that Embodies the Spirit of Your Business: It feels like home.
Fun Facts: I took over the existing store over four years ago, and I’ve found that keeping a balance of wines that were successful in the past as well as changing them up is often tricky! We truly appreciate our customers. The seats at our wine bar are frequently filled and new friendships made. One customer told me that no matter the day, he always meets someone new and interesting. That makes me feel good that we have that kind of place, not a bar, but a cozy place for people to gather to enjoy and take wine home.
EAST TROY BREWERY
Owners: Ted and Ann Zess | Ryan Hammerel, head brewer | 2905 Main St., East Troy | 262-642-2670 | etbrew.com | HOURS: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Sunday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Types of Tastings: Over 10 craft beers brewed in-house, with beer flights available. Brewing process features local ingredients and menu items feature local products.
Style/Format of Tastings: Each beer flight includes four, four-ounce pours of your choice plus one additional pint of your choice.
Price Range: $14 for beer flights.
Available for Larger Groups? Yes. Email [email protected] for reservations for parties of eight or more.
Describe a Perfect Beer/Wine Moment: Enjoying one of our great craft beers and one of our house specialties with friends and family in the brewery or on our patio. Our philosophy is that great beer should be paired with great food.
Word/Phrase that Embodies the Spirit of Your Business: Eat fresh. Drink local.
Fun Facts: The brewery is located in an old bank building built in 1892. The beer MIA 420 IPA is named after Safety Deposit Box No. 420, which was never found in the bank vault during the renovation of the building. Just for fun, the staff hides funny money in the vault for kids to find.
Owners: Doug and Kathy Jackson | 401 E. Sheridan Springs Rd., Lake Geneva 262-348-9100 | studiowinery.com genevalakedistilling.com | HOURS: Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Types of Tastings: Wine tastings. Coming this spring — spirit tastings.
Style/Format of Tastings: Order at bar for bar or table seating. Reservations required for seating with table service.
Price Range: $3 to $13 for beer, wine and flights
Available for Larger Groups? Accommodations for groups of up to 50 in the public tasting room or up to 25 in the private lounge.
Describe a Perfect Beer/Wine Moment: Traveling the country visiting wineries and distilleries. The best way to taste a wine or spirit is experiencing where it’s crafted.
Word/Phrase that Embodies the Spirit of Your Business: Art studio, music studio, wine and spirit studio.
Fun Facts: In 2006, the Jacksons discovered a crop of wild grapes growing along a roadside. They used them to make a batch of wine and entered it into the Wisconsin State Fair, where it earned a Blue Ribbon. They took online courses in enology and viticulture and entered their wines in national amateur competitions, and in 2012, they opened Studio Winery. Their newest venture, Geneva Lake Distilling, will open its doors this spring.
GENEVA LAKE BREWING CO.
Owner: Pat McIntosh | 750 Veterans Pkwy., No. 107, Lake Geneva 262-248-2539 | HOURS: Monday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday 3-7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 12-6 p.m.
Types of Tastings: Beer tastings, which consist of flights or by the pint.
Style/Format of Tastings: Choose your flights from the 11-12 beers on tap. Simply order at the bar, have a seat and enjoy.
Price Range: $5-15
Available for Larger Groups? The brewery can accommodate groups up to 30.
Describe a Perfect Beer/Wine Moment: Experiencing great beer with friends.
Word/Phrase that Embodies the Spirit of Your Business: Local crew, local brew.
Fun Fact: The story behind their Short Session IPA (India Pale Ale). A few years back when IPAs were all the rage, breweries were coming out with a watered-down version of the high alcohol IPAs, and offering Session IPAs, a slightly lower alcohol content brew. So at that time Pat decided to create his spin on the Session beer, with a Short Session Triple IPA – except his is a whopping 11% alcohol.
FLAT IRON TAP
Owners: Dave and Sarah Wingate | 150 Center St., Lake Geneva 262-812-4064 | flatirontaplg.com | HOURS: Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Types of Tastings: Pours from the 24 beers on tap with beer flight specials on Wednesday. Samples available upon request.
Style/Format of Tastings: Beer flights include four, five- ounce pours for $12. Beer flight specials on Wednesdays for $9. Traditional bar or table seating.
Price Range: $3 to $13 for beer, wine and flights
Available for Larger Groups? Accommodations for groups up to 12 people. During the winter months, a buy-out option for the whole restaurant is available for gatherings up to 50 available.
Describe a Perfect Beer/Wine Moment: When our head chef prepares the perfect wine and beer pairings for our exclusive Meet the Makers dinners. Each dinner features a different dish showcasing ingredients from local farms specially matched with a fine beer or wine.
Word/Phrase that Embodies the Spirit of Your Business: Gastropub in a casual, down-to-earth atmosphere.
Fun Facts: Almost everything in the dining room is a hand-crafted work of art — from the bar to the tables to the light fixtures.