The Places We Live: 99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard

We spent three days in Hayfield, Iowa “working” and living at 99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard. I put “working” in quotes because, really, we had a lot of fun being out among the grapes with the owners and learning about wine making. The days were filled with sunshine, laughter, wine, and plenty of peace and quiet. It was an amazing experience, something I’ll remember forever.

Hayfield, Iowa

Iowa is a Midwest state bordering Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. It was the 29th state to join the Union and has a long history of Native American inheritance and colonial trade. Iowa has a population of around 3 million. Against the usual Midwest stereotypes, Iowa’s top industry isn’t actually farming. A large percentage of Iowa’s residents are working in the manufacturing industry.

Map of the USA highlighting Califoria, New York, Idaho (with a heart), and a large highlight on Iowa. Hayfield, Iowa, USA. The Places We Live.

Hayfield is an unofficial community near Clear Lake, Iowa. Some of you may be thinking to yourself, “I know that name, but why would I know the name of a small town in Iowa?” Well, Clear Lake, Iowa is where “the music died”. After performing in Clear Lake, musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP Richards (The Big Bopper) boarded a plane that crashed and killed the musicians shortly after takeoff. We did not visit the site, but listened to first-hand stories of the event and the impact it had on the community.

Our Home

99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard is a beautiful farm located at the top of one of the only hills in the area, with the nearest neighbor nearly a mile away. The farm consists of two fields of grape vines, an entertaining yard, field for cattle, and a garden with the house, barn, winery, and tasting room. We lived in the entertaining yard which is used for hosting campers, large parties, and weddings.

Barn, silo, and picnic benches at 99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard in Iowa

The yard includes cabins as well as spaces for RVs and tents. We parked in an RV space at the bottom of the hill, where we were provided with electricity and a fire pit. The well-kept bathrooms were only a few yards away. We had the whole yard to ourselves. It was silent and incredibly peaceful.

Jen from The Places We Live sits in a camp chair in front of a fire and our travel van, Darla

Our Family

Our hosts are a local couple who have moved in and out of the area before finally returning to start their winery business. They were very knowledgeable about wine and the science behind it. It was very interesting to listen to them explain the business as well as their life stories. We had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time with them and honestly grew quite attached. They were so generous and kind, and we really enjoyed their company.

Three bottles of win next to partially filled glasses at 99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard in Iowa. The Yougest Child (white wine), The Middle Child (red wine), and The Oldest Child (white wine). The Oldest Child also shows a label "Semi-sweet white table wine. It's delicious! Get those keys from your little sister. Somebody has to be the responsible one."

We didn’t get to spend as much time with the family critters. However, we still enjoyed the company of a few steers in the field between us and the house, as well as the two chickens that lived in the garden. I think I heard their names were Henny and Penny, which was just too cute.

three angus steer in a green field

Our Lives

Wifi is not included in this stay, so we spent our working time writing offline. Working the vines was fun, but that’s a story for another day. Otherwise, we spent our time focusing on reading and writing. Josh particularly enjoyed sitting at the tasting room with a bottle of wine while he worked on editing his book.

A bottle of red wine (The Middle Child) sits on a picnic table next to a laptop at the winery

I liked sitting in the van with all of the windows open and reading my book, The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi. It is an indie fantasy novel which is, so far, just OK. I’m trying to support self-published writers in my attempt to prove to Josh that self-publishing isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t working so far, but I can be quite persistent.

I know you are all dying to hear about our time working on the vineyard and I am dying to tell you about it. Stay tuned for our adventure making wine!

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99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard. Camp local in Iowa  The HipCamp that lead us to camp at a winery


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