Dale Valley Vineyard and Walnut Woods
This past weekend we stopped at Dale Valley Vineyard for our Saturday night wine-times care of Harvest Hosts. The vineyard is located a few miles outside of Stuart, Iowa. That’s right – we have entered a new state! My dad grew up in Des Moines and my grandparents lived here for a long time. They both passed away a while ago at this point, and I haven’t been back to Iowa in at least 10 years. I feel a warm familiarity toward this area, and I am enjoying a few scattered memories of myself as a child visiting them and running around their giant backyard garden.
When we arrived to the winery, we were greeted by the cutest-ever winery dog, who obviously won our hearts with her fluffy little cloud-body and ever-present tongue poking out.
She was about 90% fluff 10% dog.
The winery was very picturesque and our RV muddied up the landscape a little bit as it tends to do, but that’s alright.
We found ourselves at a bit of a party – they had wine tasting and live music and it was a beautiful night for enjoying both.
We got to talking to the owners, Ed and Tracy, and immediately hit it off. They ended up inviting us out to dinner at a local spot – Dexfield Diner & Pub in Redfield, Iowa. We had such a nice time chatting with them and hearing all about how they started Dale Valley Vineyard. The land that the winery sits on has been in Tracy’s family since the mid 1800s. In the early 2000s Ed and Tracy decided to take the leap and try to turn it into a winery. Lucky for us they succeeded admirably! The wine was delicious and the building that houses their tasting room is an old school house from that era – great that they were able to preserve that historical building. We had a lovely time with Ed & Tracy and were so glad to stay at their winery.
In the morning we set off for Walnut Woods, just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Walnut Woods is home to an absolutely stunning forest. Every walk I take in this park makes me feel like I am in magical fairytale land.
The forest is filled with giant black walnut trees and the ground is blanketed with long tall grass. It is very unique looking. I did a little research on why this is, and apparently it is called a bottomland hardwood forest, which is a type of forest that is in a flood plain, so only certain types of trees can grow there. Walnut trees fall into the category of trees who thrive in this environment. Walnut Woods in particular has the largest stand of black walnut trees in North America. Enchanting is the word.
I’m so glad we discovered this beautiful area. Turns out Iowa has a lot more than cows and cornfields! Next up: Minneapolis.