The atmosphere of Stone Cliff Winery, located in the Port of Dubuque, is more reminiscent of a bar than a wine tasting room. They offer multiple beers on tap as well as bottled beer and their selection of wine. I initially opted for a pint of local craft beer for my first drink, as I have already tried their wine and have established my opinion. I decided later to do a tasting for research purposes and record my impressions.
Stone Cliff offers five wine samples for $5 and for an additional $2 you may purchase the tasting glass. I prefer dry wines, so I sampled the one dry white and one dry red that they offered. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes do not grow in the climate we have in Iowa, so I am curious if they use these actual grape varietals or simply call their dry white a Chardonnay and their dry red a Cabernet Sauvignon because they are recognizable to the general population.
One of my friends that I was drinking with warned me that he and his wife had tried the Chardonnay a few weeks earlier and it was not dry, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the semi-sweet nature of this wine even with the heads up. There was a strong alcohol taste in the finish.
The Cabernet was certainly not what I would describe as full-bodied, as it was labeled on the tasting list. The wine had such a low concentration that I could read the tasting menu through while assessing the appearance of the wine. It had a jammy, dark berry quality.
The Riesling was more on the sweet side with a hint of cooking spice flavors. I tried to pinpoint it, but I am still not knowledgeable enough about spice scents to be proficient. No one else at the table was able to nail down the spice flavor, either.
The Moscato was cloyingly sweet for my tastebuds. There was a hint of cotton candy flavor to it.
The Red Fox was a semi-sweet that was a bright apple red in color. It tasted of concord grapes and current berries.
The Strawberry Rhubarb was a sweet fruit wine that reminded my of a Jolly Rancher. Although I don’t like rhubarb, I was told that the flavor of it wasn’t overpowering and it added a nice touch of tartness to the wine. I surprisingly enjoyed it, although it was too sweet for me to drink much more than a few sips.
They also offer many other fruit wines, including appleberry, sweet cherry, sweet cranberry, spiced apple and a sweet concord wine. The tasting menu is heavy on the sweet wines, very light on dry or semi-sweet offerings.
The location of Stone Cliff Winery is ideal, as it is situated right along the Mississippi River with an amphitheater area outdoors. It is a good live music venue and offers nice outdoor seating for patrons.