School is in session at Forestville Vines
Though the summertime means classes are out for most students, one school is just getting started.
Forestville Vines winery has officially opened its doors in the one-room schoolhouse located off Highway 65 that was once Forestville School this month.
The winery plays into the theme of its schoolhouse setting. It produces seven wines, all named according to the theme. There's the three whites - Teacher's Pet, Detention and Recess. Then there's the three reds - Homework, The Three R's (reading, writing, arithmetic) and the reserve 1897, named after the year the school was built. Rounding out the list the rose, named Summer Vacation.
Everything is grown and made on the land.
Meal options, called lunch pails, are available. The winery also serves non-alcoholic options, and families are welcome.
"We thought, oh gosh let's have fun with this," said owner Suzanne Cutshall.
The experience is something everyone can relate to, said Cutshall, a teacher herself.
"Everyone's gone to school, everyone has that they can connect to," she said.
Cutshall said the history of this school is rich and fascinating.
She's already met one woman who attended the school, and she hopes to meet more.
Cutshall's business partner is a River Falls native, and originally bought the land for hunting before beginning to grow the cold-hardy grapes.
"Turns out he loves to be a grower," Cutshall said.
They then purchased additional land, including the schoolhouse.
"Wouldn't that be a cool tasting room? So then that spurred the, well let's give winemaking a shot," Cutshall said. "So it's just this rolling sequence of events that, all of it unexpected but all of it so pleasurable."
Getting the building into usable shape was quite the undertaking, Cutshall said. The remodeling took two years.
"We actually lifted the schoolhouse up," she said, to add a basement rather than an extension. They worked to preserve the original integrity of the building, she said.
"This has been a place people have driven by for years, and some have a history for themselves in this building, so we sure don't want to interrupt that," Cutshall said.
The main support beam is still in fantastic shape and continues to support the building. The limestone foundation was saved and used in landscaping. The walls are original, just with many, many coats of paints.
"There's been a lot of gems that we discovered along the way," Cutshall said.
Cutshall was excited to take on the project of the tasting room. She and her partner are business partners as well as being engaged.
They each have their own zones, her the tasting room and him the vineyard and winemaking, and they work well together.
The work does have a learning curve, but Cutshall said they find challenges engaging.
The two have always enjoyed going to wineries, and now refer to it as "research development."
"What we enjoy going to wineries is the feel of the winery, and each one has their own culture," Cutshall said.
Now with their own winery, their hopes is a place that focuses on relaxation, history and the beauty of the area.
"The grounds are lovely, it just begs for a glass of wine and one of our picnic meals out on our picnic table," she said.
They're passionate about the agritourism piece of the winery, Cutshall said.
"Anything that brings people to our area that we're so fond of, just to share that I think is a really important purpose," she said.
They also like having some tongue-in-cheek fun, as the theme clearly shows.
The grand opening was June 20, and the winery will be open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. The site will host events such as yoga and live music.
Cutshall said she is looking forward to meeting everyone who visits.
They're also looking forward to working with the communities. The winery has already partnered with Mei Mei's Cookies, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery and 3 Schweet Sisters.