Lynita Delaney: The name is Elmaro Vineyard, but I don’t care what they call us. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s like holding a wine glass. Do I care if somebody holds the bowl with the wine glass? Uh-uh. That’s up to them how they want to hold the wine glass, and it’s up to them what they want to call us. We’re getting to be [where] more folks just say ‘Elmaro,’ and they’ll know where it is and that’s good. It’s like Kleenex for facial tissues – it’s a good thing. One of the things we’ve always talked about is letting people feel special for a day, because people here in the Midwest have a lot of stress and have a lot of things going on in their lives. If they can come here and feel special, listen to music, have someone wait on them, drink a glass of wine and eat a cheese plate or whatever for a day, we’ve succeeded.
Bob: I’m going to tell you that when my wife and I went out to Elmaro, and I explained to you that I wasn’t a wine drinker [and] that I’d stolen a bottle of wine as a kid and drank too much of it and didn’t like it. Elmaro changed my view on wine because I had two glasses of wine. I had a glass of the cranberry and I had the Duet, and they were both fantastic. Then we shared the local cheese and meat tray, and it was delicious. Every piece of that – everything that you just explained – encompassed our time. We enjoyed ourselves. It was at peace. It was a beautiful day. We got to be outside. We got to see the surroundings and your beautiful farm, and we tasted your great-tasting wine. It was an awesome day.
Lynita: That’s what we’re going for: just to let people have somewhere that they can feel like a queen for a day or a king for a day.
Bob: You guys have won a lot of awards. What different awards has Elmaro won?
Lynita: We’re always striving for a little more, and to do it a little better, and we’re learning all the time. We have had one wine that won a sweepstakes out at Long Beach, and that is a suburb of L.A., and that we won the sweepstakes. The sweepstakes means we’re the best white wine in their competition according to the judges. That one we were really thrilled about after we learned what a sweepstakes was, because we didn’t know. When the lady who won the best red wine sweepstakes called me and congratulated me, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s nice. Thank you, and congrats to you, too.’ She said, ‘You don’t get it. We’ve tried 40 years to get a sweepstakes, and we finally got one, and you’ve got one now, too.’ We’d only been making wine four or five years when that happened. We were pretty thrilled.
Bob: How did you come up with the name of Elmaro?
Lynita: It happened in 1976. Mark and his mom and dad had farmed together, and when they incorporated they had to come up with a name. Mark’s dad said, ‘Let’s use all our names together,’ so it was Elaine, Mark, and Robert, which turned into Elmaro. It was Elmaro Farms for many years. When we built the winery we were trying to come up with a name, and we thought about Tremplo and Riverview and all sorts of things. Finally, Mark said, ‘Why don’t we use the name of the farm? It sounds like a winery.’ So we used Elmaro [and] we had a story behind it. We did some research to make sure it didn’t mean anything in Spanish, and then I was picking grapes with a kid out in Oregon for an experience trip for me. He started laughing when I told him what the name of the winery was. I said, ‘No, no, no. We checked and it doesn’t mean anything in Spanish.’ Elmaro, where he’s from, is slang, which means a child you can’t handle or someone who drank too much and you can’t control them. They’re elmaro.
Bob: Are you guys happy to be on the Great River Road?
Lynita: Yes, yes. The Great River Road is a great spot. We actually did some research before we built. We knew a winery had to attract 2 percent of the population in a 50-mile radius in order to survive. That’s where we started with the research. We also did research on how many cars go by Highway 35 on the Great River Road, and how many of them might stop based on how many cars were going by. That’s how we got here.
Bob: Is Elmaro open year-round?
Lynita: Yes. Thank goodness for the locals. Because we’re open during the winter Thursday through Sunday, the locals are what keep us alive. In fact, one day – and it’s very important to be open when we say we will be. One day, there was a blizzard on Sunday this winter, and everybody stayed home who worked here, except for me. Because I live walking distance away, I came down and opened the winery, and I had three guests all day. But those three guests had driven from Holmen, which is 20 miles away, and from Dodge, which is 10, 15 miles away on a bad road, to get here. If they would have come to the door and found out nobody was here, that would have been terrible. So yeah, you have to be open when you say you are.
Bob: When is Elmaro open?
Lynita: From the first of April to the first of January, we have summer hours, and those are every day except Monday. On weekdays it’s noon to 6. On Friday and Saturday it’s 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Sunday we’re not open in the morning because I don’t want it to be an excuse for kids not to go to church, so we’re open at noon and we close at 5 on Sunday.
Bob: What a fun conversation with Lynita from Elmaro Vineyards, located on the Wisconsin Great River Road, Highway 35 north of Trempealeau, Wisconsin. [It’s] a wonderful place to visit, chill out, and enjoy a sip of some great wine. Check out their website at elmarovineyard.com, or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/elmarovineyard.