Hidden Gems: In Carroll, Iowa, classic cars to classy wines - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 6:11 pm
Hidden Gems: In Carroll, Iowa, classic cars to classy wines

CARROLL, Iowa — Whether you're sipping wine or enjoying a meal, look around. You're surrounded by history at Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery in this west-central Iowa town.

The building of this reader-suggested hidden gem started life in 1913 as a Ford assembly plant along the old Lincoln Highway and now sits along U.S. Highway 30. The 13-foot tin-covered ceilings, white oak flooring and woodwork, lights and front door date to that Ford plant.

Check out the outdoor-dining patio.

That's where drivers once pulled in to have their cars serviced at a long-gone Mobil gas station. Mechanics worked on cars where the building's Events Center now sits.

The gas station and Ford plant buildings were connected in 1930. A combined car dealership and garage operated there until 2005.

The historic building sat empty until 2008 when John and Rose Guinan bought it to house a tasting room for their wines and an Events Center. “It was really a gift, a building like that,” he said.

When the business opened in June 2009, “All they wanted to do was eat,” Guinan said. “One man told me, 'This is Carroll County. We're beer drinkers here.' ”

“We never intended to be in the restaurant business,” he said.

Yet Santa Maria has become a full-scale restaurant.

“The underlying philosophy is everything is made fresh. Nothing is fried,” he said.

The menu includes thin-crust pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, steaks, sandwiches, salads, soups, pastas, appetizers and heartier entrées including prime rib ($19.99), bacon-wrapped pork chop ($13.99), smothered chicken ($13.99) and seafood.

Santa Maria wines are available by the glass or bottle.

The restaurant, 218 W. Sixth St. in Carroll, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The full menu is available all day.

Before Santa Maria, the Guinans had made wine for eight years in their Omaha basement. They bought land and established their 10-acre vineyard in nearby Willey, Iowa. Rose Guinan grew up on a farm two miles outside Willey.

Their land abuts that of St. Mary Catholic Church, where the couple were married. Calling their business Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery came naturally, John Guinan said.

“We'll harvest 60 tons this year,” he said, and buy 30 tons of grapes from California.

“I was the winemaker to begin with,” Guinan said. Now professionally trained winemakers do the work.

The wine is fermented in huge tanks at the back of the restaurant building. Aging and storing is done in the basement.

Rhuby-Dooby, inspired by a friend's homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie, is the top seller, Guinan said.

It was one of the four wines we sampled as part of a $3.50 tasting package in which we could choose from the 28 Santa Maria wines. The others we tried are Santa Maria Chardonnay, Rosie's Rosé and Jeanne d'Arc.

There's a small gift shop that sells Santa Maria wines and other wine-related items. Our favorite was the birdhouses from Santa Maria corks. Tours of the vineyard itself are available for groups who have made prior arrangement.

For more information, call 712-775-2013.

Email hidden gems to sue.truax@owh.com, or mail them to Hidden Gems, Omaha World-Herald Building, Suite 700, 1314 Douglas St., Omaha, NE 68102-1811.

Contact the writer: Sue Story Truax

sue.truax@owh.com    |   402-444-1165

Sue writes obituaries and covers community news and schools for Omaha.com's Living section, primarily Community Connection.

Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87
Archives: So many wonderful old Omaha photos
UNL students make dancing robot drones
Annie, this woman I paid for sex years ago is now a co-worker
Saying ‘stranger danger’ doesn’t always work, instead be direct with your child
Momaha: 10 ways to boost a kid's confidence
Tips, recipes on how to spice up your traditional Easter ham
Momaha: A lesson in balance for mom after ballet
Dubious list says Omaha's the second-most-spirited city in the U.S., whatever that means
Live Well Nebraska: Bellevue man named one of hottest fitness trainers in America
Annie, my husband walked out on me, and now I love his brother
Review: ‘Heaven is for Real’ leaves it to viewer to interpret its story
Aw, geez. 'Fargo' has a new psycho
Is this Omaha's most incredible Easter egg tree?
Omaha, Lincoln both set record lows; some fruit trees may have been damaged
Grand Island body shop owner models car after Coney dog
What to Watch: 'Fargo,' 'New Girl'
'Last Supper' quilt makes its way to Nebraska
Caravan’s steampunk ‘Fantasticks’ to pitch its tent in Iowa
Cleveland Evans: Emma blossomed from medieval roots
Annie, I'm worried my fiancée will go back to her group sex ways
Number of stay-at-home moms on the rise, it’s not who you think
Assemble the minions! How to make weird but cool Easter crafts
Changes on World-Herald comics page
Annie, my 26-year-old son has no interest in getting a job
< >
Cleveland Evans: From a moody nickname to the Ninja Turtles’ bestie
In honor of April 1, this column’s about Murgatroyd and Amphelisia.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Dr. Welbes Natural Health Clinic
$129 for 2 LipoLaser Sessions with Additional Complimentary Services ($605 value)
Buy Now
Jump to a blog:
< >
We Love Weddings blog
W.E. Love Weddings is about everything Omaha and everything weddings by the editors of Wedding Essentials Magazine.
Weddings and engagements
Share your exciting news with your community by placing an announcement today.
Inspired Home Omaha magazine
Sign up today to get the latest edition of Omaha's best magazine for local living, home entertainment, fashion and travel!
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »