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Rueckert: What's new in Green County?
Noreen Rueckert

“What’s new?”

That’s always the topic of conversation when you meet up with someone you haven’t seen for a while. 

Here’s what I have to share:

Bailey’s Run Vineyard, New Glarus

It takes three years for new grapevines to bear fruit, which means that Todd and Janet Kuehl will be making wine from their very own grapes this fall from the original vines they planted back in 2015. After finding the right home to live in and discovering the right property for a vineyard, everything fell into place and the couple recently opened their new business venture just west of the village on Klitzke Road. The Kuehls keep it local with wine crafted from cold climate grapes, and appetizers like cheese from Edelweiss Creamery and sausage from Hoesly’s Meats. Named for Bailey — their loveable Golden Doodle who acts as a self-appointed greeter — the winery offers what is likely the most scenic panorama in Green County. Enjoy it from the vantage point of a large veranda scattered with dozens of chairs, plus small tables strategically placed for keeping your glass of wine close at hand. I challenge you to find a better view.

Pearl Island Bed and Breakfast, Brodhead

It takes entrepreneurial spirit to turn a historic church into a business venture, and it takes vision to turn that business venture into a much-needed community asset. Casey Jones, a Brodhead High School alum who left the area and found success as an auctioneer and also in buying and selling property, purchased the former UCC Church sight unseen – unless you consider the photos a friend showed him. It was only after the purchase was finalized that he and his wife Lori decided how they would use it. Several of the original stained glass windows remain, and an extensive remodel resulted in a bed and breakfast with eight guest rooms. The tall ceilings and overhead loft area allowed for installation of an old wooden canoe, upside down, in the kitchen area. Back in the day, it was used by local Boy Scouts paddling the Sugar River. Then it was tucked away in a garage, but not forgotten. Plans include repurposing it to feature a light fixture over the dining table.

Brodhead Depot Museum

You might wonder why I’m including this — since the building itself dates back to the beginnings of Brodhead and the depot has been a museum since the 1970s. Here’s why: a group dedicated volunteers received a bequest from the William S. Knight Foundation, and with the support of the city council and the planning commission they were able to add a new wing to the old depot. The addition is filled with memorabilia bringing to life the ingenuity of Stanley Knight, a dairy farmer and inventor who held a keen understanding of the needs of the local agricultural community. The roots of this company continue today at Kuhn.

Traveling back in time is usually saved for fiction, but you can make it real with a visit to the Brodhead Depot Museum. Take a peek into grandma’s cupboards, see equipment used for everything from making brooms to making cheese, and gain an appreciation for the marvels of modern dentistry.

Many volunteers were involved with the expansion project, but perhaps none more enthusiastic than Jaine Winters, whose parents Frank and Carol Gombar, were key players in the original depot renovation project. Local historian Betty Earlywine was volunteering as a docent the day I stopped in. Her son Steve was instrumental in acquiring one of Knight’s prototypes — an “unloader wagon” that is displayed outside in an alcove courtyard area between the old depot and the new wing.

— Noreen Rueckert is director for Green County Tourism, executive director for Green County Cheese Days, and co-chair of Main Street Monroe’s Concerts on the Square. She refuses to name her favorite cheese, but it is rumored to be Feta. She has the best office in the county — overlooking Monroe’s downtown Square from the tower of the Historic Green County Courthouse. She dabbles in photography and graphic design, adores cats and coffee, and secretly loves the Cheese Days Song.