On a summer night in LeClaire, as live music entertains full crowds at at least three outdoor patios, this town, with a population of less 4,000 people, is undeniably small.
But there's nothing quiet about it.
A decade ago, the streets of LeClaire didn't buzz past 5 p.m., when the retail and coffee shops closed and families maybe went out to eat at Happy Joe's or Sneaky Pete's Steakhouse.
Now that wine bars, a brewery and a cocktail house have joined LeClaire, its streets -- well, really just one street, its main drag on Cody Road -- bustles during the day and well past dinner time.
"It's changed a lot," Cindy Bruhn, the town's tourism manager, said. "Right now, you'll see people all over town every day of the week. And it doesn't go away at night."
Cody Road has become an unlikely hub specifically for wine-lovers, housing a locally-owned winery and upscale wine bars, the Faithful Pilot Cafe & Wine Spirits and and 129 Coffee and Wine Bar, which each offer weekly tastings, live music and specially-curated wine pairings and dinners. Many have views of the Mississippi River.
LeClaire's wine scene got a kick when Wide River Winery came to town in 2011, initially opening in the basement of the building now occupied by the LeClaire Olive Oil Company. That marked the second location for the family-run winery, which produces wine at its home base in Clinton.
"It was an experiment," said Liz Quinn, who handles sales and marketing for the winery her mother started. "LeClaire was really starting to take off, with the 'American Pickers' and all of the tourists coming by off of the interstate."
Expanding to LeClaire also meant being around higher foot traffic, according to her mother, Dorothy O’Brien, the winery’s owner, viticulturist and wine-maker.
"In Clinton, we're kind of out in the sticks," O’Brien said. "LeClaire is a vibrant community and they have scene. We get to be right in the heart of all the people walking around."
As it turned out, locally produced wine fit right in as a tourist attraction.
"We all had the mission of getting people to LeClaire," Quinn said. "And things started really happening."
In 2013, the winery unveiled its relocated and renovated storefront at 106 N. Cody Road, complete with an outdoor courtyard where live music plays each Friday in the summer through Sept. 30.
When other bars began hosting local and regional musical acts, it sparked First Fridays, a town-wide celebration that includes specials at area restaurants and late-night shopping on the first Friday of the month.
And Wide River Winery got more popular, as O’Brien says, business is “pretty darn good.”
Its third location, in the Village of East Davenport, will celebrate its first year of being open this weekend during the Wine Walk, a wine-tasting event and fundraiser for the Gilda's Club of the Quad-Cities.
Because of state law, the winery’s LeClaire and Davenport locations can’t serve wine by the glass, since the wine isn’t produced there. Patrons may sip bottles of wine on site, and if they don’t finish it, may take it to-go, with the bottle closed and covered in stapled plastic bag.
That hasn’t been too much of a roadblock, Quinn said, especially because visitors may sample for free a variety of 12 Wide River red and white wines before buying a bottle, which range from sweet to dry, and that cost $14-30. This summer, wine slushies are also available.
Plus, the winery’s staff is “passionate about being welcoming,” and “tries to demystify wine a little bit,” Quinn said.
"In the state of Iowa, wine is a very young industry; we're all new to it, so we try to help people find what they like," she said. "We're not some snotty winery from Napa."
That’s part of what draws in tourists, according to O’Brien.
"When they're visiting they want that local flavor," she said. "People want a sense of place and drinking wine made there gives them that."
And, tourists don’t expect to find a winery or wine bar in LeClaire, or the Midwest, O’Brien said.
"People are always surprised that we’re here," she said. "I'm surprised. There's like 99 wineries in Iowa."
When it comes to booze, it's all there in LeClaire. In promotions, Cody Road has been dubbed Libations Lane, since Wide River Winery, Green Tree Brewery and Mississippi River Distilling Co. are located within a short walk of each other.
And on weekend nights in the summer, it’s likely all three establishments are happening.
"It's unique to have all of this within a block or so in a small town, and they all do well," Bruhn said. "We definitely have all of the adult beverages covered."