What are your hours during the pandemic?
During September and October, or an long as the weather is pleasant for sitting outside, we are open for outdoor seating. Hours are Friday Noon to 5:00, Saturday 11:00 to 6:00 and Sundays from Noon to 5:00. Curbside pickups can be arranged for any day; please call 815-5633-4665 to arrange your pickup.
Here are the rules for outdoor seating:
Please keep 6 feet away from staff and other customers.
Our staff will be wearing masks and we hope you will too whenever you are walking about close to people.
Our staff will greet you and take you to a table. .
We offer flights of 4 or 6 wines that you can enjoy at your table. We also serve wine by the glass or by the bottle.
Our Sweet & Savory Plate is available for you to have with your wine.
If you want to purchase t-shirts, caps or gifts, we'll help you with your selection. Restrooms are open for you to use (please wear a mask inside). We'll limit the number of people inside to 4.
Several of us are certified in food sanitation so we'll follow the rules we've always followed. All dishes are sanitized and we'll clean tables, chairs and touch points like door knobs regularly.
We may expand our hours as time goes on.
Finally, all Famous Fossil wines are made from grapes we and our growers painstakingly grew and that Ken meticulously made. The wines we have now are some of the best we've had since we opened in 2008. As Ken quotes "You're only as good as the last wine you made." We're really proud of the wines we've made for you.
Thank you and we look forward to seeing you!
Do you make all your wines at the winery?
Yes. As soon as the grapes are harvested, wine making begins. It continues all year long, with aging, blending and bottling. We use only locally grown grapes in our wines. We do not bring in juice or bulk wine from other sources. There are no flavorings or additives in our wines. We are truly your local winery.
What kinds of grapes are in your wines?
You may not have heard of the grapes that we use in our wines – LaCrescent, Marquette, Frontenac, St. Croix, Prairie Star, to name a few of our 12 different red & white varieties. Most of them were developed by the University of Minnesota for the “cold climate” (down to 30 degrees below zero-brrr!). Just like any other wine region around the world, our wines are a unique expression of the land, the climate, and, of course, the winemaker. When you taste Famous Fossil wines, you’re tasting the best of the Midwest!
Do you do weddings?
During the pandemic we are hosting small wedding ceremonies. We have an hourly rate for events. Please give us a call at 815.563.4665 or email for more information.
How long have you been open?
We finished planting the vineyard in June 2004 and opened the winery after our first harvest in October 2008.
Do we need a reservation to come to Famous Fossil?
You can come anytime we are open to taste our wines and you don’t need a reservation. For groups of 10 or more, it’s nice to know that you are coming, especially if you’d like a Sweet & Savory Plate with local cheeses, sausage & fruits. If you are bringing a group, we appreciate one person paying the check for the tasting and gratuity.
Can kids come to Famous Fossil?
Children are welcome although we don’t have activities for them. We ask that an adult supervise children at all times.
Is having a winery been a dream of yours?
Ken farmed organically since the early 1980s and sold most of his organic soybeans to a business in Japan. Mr. Takanabe, who became a friend, visited Ken’s farm every year. The minerals in the soil in western Iowa imparted the flavors Mr. Takanabe wanted in his tofu. This sense of “terroir” (that’s right – in soybeans) inspired in Ken a desire to make something from what he grew. Ken made wine in college and since he loves being outdoors, was a great farmer and really gets chemistry, wine making was a natural fit. Growing grapes, making wine and having people taste and enjoy what we’ve created is a great experience!
Where did you get the name Famous Fossil?
The “famous” fossil was dug up when we started planting our vineyard. It is a recepticulite (sea sponge) and is 450 million years old. You’ll see it sitting on the bar and we have lots of others throughout the tasting room. We keep finding fossils, too, sometimes right in our parking lot!
We heard that Famous Fossil Winery is for sale. Is that true?
Yes, Famous Fossil Vineyard and Winery is for sale. We'd love to pass on this beautiful property to someone who has a passion for business, people and new ideas. There are lots of opportunities here from adding a bed and breakfast to opening a distillery to hosting Plein Air Retreats - the sky's the limit. Contact us if you'd like to learn more.