Made In The Midwest: Villa Bellezza

Updated: 02/19/2014 7:52 AM
Created: 02/19/2014 7:32 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS ) - Villa Bellezza is a Mediterranean experience on the Mississippi River that hosts everything from wine tastings to weddings.
"Bellezza means beauty in Italian and so the names inspired by the beautiful drive along the bluffs and the river as we come to our front door," said Julianne Dahlen, Owner of Villa Bellezza.
Julianne Dahlen and her husband Derick wanted to create a place inspired by their travels to Italy. "Something that would take people to a place that's away in their minds," said Julianne.
Driving through Pepin, Wisconsin, you can see Villa Bellezza doesn't quite match the surroundings, yet that's exactly how it was made. "The stone is the same stone that occurs in the bluffs, the limestone," she said.
It's been almost a year since they finished building and Villa Bellezza has evolved into an experience. Not just for wine tasters, but for couples tying the knot and anyone else taking advantage of their event center. With a private suite and look out tower on the top floor, there's views you can't find anywhere else in Pepin.
"We wanted to create a place, a unique place with quality wines," said Julianne.
The Dahlens make about 25 wines each year. While Julianne deals with the event side of things, Derick has the secret to creating world class wines.
"Magic happens in two places really. First it happens in the vineyard and then they get inside in a nice fresh state then very quickly we can convert them into juice and get them fragmenting, so they don't deteriorate at all so we capture all those fresh flavors," said Derick Dahlen, Owner of Villa Bellezza.
All of the grapes are locally grown, no further than 60 miles from Villa Bellezza. The tanks in the production room hold 17,000 gallons of raw wine at different stages of production.
"The whites will be wines in a bottle in the next six months or so, the reds in the next year and a half, two years," said Derick.
In order to produce clean, stable wines, technology is used every day to track the wine making process. "It's the only machine like this in the area," Derick said. In just over two minutes, a tracking system tells Derick exactly what's in the wine sample. "How much sugar is in it, how much Malic acid, what the pH is, what the total acid is," he said.
When it comes time to bottle his creation, it's got to be just right. Bottles are handed into the machine, nitrogen displaces any air in the bottle, the bottles are filled with wine, corked and labeled.
"We have several wines with Pepin in the name, Cotes De Pepin Red, and Cotes Du Pepin White," said Derick.
For the Dahlens, the community of Pepin has never been their permanent home, but it's now their special place. A place they hope others see as a local getaway. "They've been so welcoming, even as we were first vacationers here," said Julianne.
It's beautiful here in Pepin, that's why we're here," said Derick. "People come to a winery, people are happy right, you sit in the piazza, you have a glass of wine and you enjoy life, and we enjoy that, Julie and I do both very much," he said.
The Dahlens have yet to distribute their wine, so you can only buy it in Pepin, Wisconsin. The tasting room at Villa Bellezza stays open all year round.