Tag Archives: Clinton

WIDE RIVER WINERY

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WIDE RIVER WINERY

Visiting this vineyard is one of the most enjoyable of many good times in the Central Midwest during past weeks.

We toured the vineyard, walked among the vines and admired the large patio at the Clinton Tasting Room. The vineyards of the Wide River Winery grow atop high bluffs above the widest part of the Upper Mississippi River. This past week I hiked the bluff trail and viewed the river from the spot where Native Americans buried their dead in mounds hundreds of years ago. There are few things more joyful than standing above the Mississippi and viewing its broad expanse. Oh, a good glass of wine adds another dimension. And this is the place to find it.

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This winery is special, in part, because good friends developed it and are the owners and wine makers. We know how hard they have worked to make it a success. Our friends, their family, and staff welcome visitors with open arms.

Not long ago, Wide River Winery opened a second tasting room in LeClaire, Iowa. Here too, are views of the river, this time at one of its narrower points. The small town is charming and the Wide River Tasting Room fits right in with local lore and décor. The renovation work completed on the LeClaire building revealed a basement from Underground Railroad Days. The main street of this small town on the river is lined with inviting shops and interesting old buildings. It is located just north of I80 and is the first exit after the river if travelers are headed west and the last exit before the river if traveling east.

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Wide River Winery produces many award winning wines. I have my favorites: Ms Chievous and Pursuit of Happiness. Ms Chievous is a top seller and a gold medal award winner. Pursuit of Happiness, a red, and winner of the 2012 Mid America Wine Competition Gold Medal is delicious with chocolate. I know this from personal experience. But believe you me, they produce many wines. Make your own choice. Felony Red and White Collar Crime are two that I know many people especially enjoy.

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You can learn more about the winery and the wines at their website
www.wideriverwinery.com. I love to follow them on Facebook because they post pictures of the fun to be had at the tasting rooms. Even more interesting, I think, are pictures about the work and mystery of producing wines. For those of you who are not within driving distance of the winery or of Eastern Iowa stores that carry these wines, you can buy wines online. And, different wines, from crisp whites, to reds with deep flavors are well described.

The Wide River Winery hosts frequent fun events with music and wine. Now that is a joyful combination

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RASTRELLI’S RESTAURANT

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RASTRELLI’S RESTAURANT

Most towns have a well-known pizza place. Most folks have a favorite pizza. Most of us salivate for a good piece of pizza. But Clinton, Iowa has a pizza place that is more than a favorite. Oh, they serve distinctive pizza, and good all-round American and Italian classics. But what they really serve is the best kind of nostalgia.

Ida and her husband Pete, who began this restaurant years ago, nurtured generations of high school kids and young families. Some of these young people, now grown and well-established, mail order the famous Rastrelli’s pizza several times a year. Some say the Italian sauce, the pizza, and the cabbage salad are unchanged from an earlier time. Many never visit Clinton without a stop at Rastrelli’s.

Guess where I had lunch this week? Of the fifteen people at the table, all but one ordered pizza for their lunch. Our table was nearly giddy with excitement.

When the pizza arrived with its well-seasoned sausage aroma, and members of the group bit into the crunch of the thin crust, heaped generously with crisp topping, most were transported with energy and enthusiasm to a time and place out of the past. Most had eaten pizza there many times, and the food brought to mind some of the best times of their lives. I’ve never watched a group enjoy a lunch, the company and the food more.

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No doubt some remembered a time when they had entered the long narrow room of an earlier version of the restaurant with it’s soda fountain, and Ida had raised her arms in welcome, calling their names from the back of the place as she hurried forward, ready to deliver hugs. It seemed she remembered every regular customer the place had ever had.

The restaurant continues to be as welcoming as Ida Rastrelli’s wide, warm smile, though she and her husband are no longer there. Today, their son Mike and others carry on the traditions. The menu is large and varied. The salad bar is more than inviting, almost as famous as the pizza. This time, the salad was the best ever. For so many, especially Clinton natives, this pizza is a constant that remains their all time favorite pizza.

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But this place doesn’t just offer good food. For so many who have lived in Clinton or visited there regularly, it offers a perfect plateful of happy memories.

I urge you to visit when life takes you in that direction. I think you will experience the joy of the place. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you feel the spirit of your own past and present good times when you are there.

Learn more about this unique place at www.rastrellis.com.

“Let’s go to Rastrelli’s.” It’s a refrain heard in any Clinton, Iowa song.