Sunset Hollow Wine Bistro & Gifts opens in Merrill

Cheers. Sunset Hollow Wine Bistro & Gifts is one of Merrill’s newest downtown businesses, offering a variety of handcrafted wines made in their town of Pine River winery. Blue Sky Photography LLC/Peter Tesch photo.


You may already be familiar with the name Sunset Hollow as it relates to Sunset Hollow Ranch & Winery in the Town of Pine River east of Merrill. Now that same name – and the same organic meat products raised on that ranch and handcrafted wines produced in their winery – have made their way into downtown Merrill. Melissa and Joe Hoffman, owners of both, decided to open a new, larger location where guests can enjoy their wine indoors in a comfortable setting year-round.
Guests can expect the same house and seasonal wines and the same attention to creating an experience they’ve come to know out at the ranch, but now they can also enjoy food, desserts, and specials to enjoy with their wine, as well as a selection of gifts available for purchase. And, of course, wine is still available for purchase by the bottle or by the glass.
Located at 811 E. First St. in Merrill, the business held several soft opening dates in December and early January before holding their Grand Opening on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2024. They used the time to test out a few things, get a feel for busier times, and create some new offerings.
Currently, they are open Thursdays from 12-6 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 12-7 p.m. They will also occasionally be open additional days for special occasions, like they were most recently on Wednesday, Feb. 14, for Valentine’s Day.
The bistro has a somewhat rustic Italian ambiance, with seating available on two levels to add interest. Some of the decor items in the bistro are actually gift items that are for sale. When I spoke with Melissa, she said they were still working to get those items in and displayed. But she did say they will be “gifts that might work well for anniversaries, birthdays, something if somebody’s looking for something to add in for a gift” and that they will be locally sourced and handcrafted items. And many of those gift ideas, as you might imagine, will likely pair well with a good bottle of wine.
Speaking of pairing well with wine, Sunset Hollow Wine Bistro & Gifts has a current menu that includes two panini options, three flatbread options, a brickyard bistro sandwich (marbled rye with hard salami, provolone, tomato, and red onion with a house Italian vinaigrette), a caprese pasta salad, and lighter fare to include a bistro charcuterie board, homemade cranberry chutney, Italian baked tomatoes with bruschetta, and hummus with vegetables. The meats for all of the entrees are organic, GMO-free meats, from the Hoffmans’ farm, Sunset Hollow Ranch. Everything is prepared fresh in their on-site kitchen.
The menu is likely to evolve, possibly swapping out a sandwich or other menu items seasonally, Melissa said.
The bistro also offers a changing array of desserts baked by Auntie Ray’s Coffee House across the street. Melissa said they believe in working together and collaboratively with other businesses in town, and this is just one of many more opportunities she envisions where area businesses can and will work together.
Most recently, the bistro also introduced some new offerings: Cocktail cheese plates available for cocktail hour Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. and Italiano Fridays featuring a new pasta dish each Friday with a side of garlic bread on Fridays from 4-7 p.m.
They typically offer other specials each day, as well.
Wine is available by the glass or by the bottle, and the bistro now has punch cards available: buy 10 glasses of wine, get one free and/or buy 10 bottles of wine, get one free. [Wine is also available by the case but must be pre-ordered.]
The wine list will most definitely change seasonally. “We’re only going to have specific wines here that fit the season,” Melissa said. “So, obviously, our specialty ones for Christmas and winter, and then for summer and for fall. But then the other [house] wines that I’m choosing to place here will [also] be more geared for the season, like your Blackberry, your Sunset Sangria [in winter], versus in summer I’ll pull in the Peach Raspberry Sangria, pull in the Kiwi Pear instead of maybe having the Apple, and kind of start changing them a little bit that way.”
The wine list as of this writing in mid-February included winter-season wines. Specialty wines were: Country Christmas, Tis the Season, Reindeer Juice, Frosted Citrus Berry, Apple Toddy, and Sleighbell Sangria. The house wine offerings were: White Cranberry, Apple, Raspberry Dragon Fruit, Pomegranate, Blackberry, Black Raspberry, and Sunset Sangria. And their dry wine offerings were: Rosie Red and Sahara.
The wine bistro also offers a specialty daily cocktail and Jameson old fashion.
Not sure what kind of wine to pick? Ask for a sample. Better yet, try a pre-selected flight of four wines or create your own flight of four wines that sound appealing to enjoy.
Prefer beer over wine? They also offer a selection of craft bottled beers. And non-alcoholic options on their drink menu include: lemonade, sparkling flavored water, Sprecher sodas, teas, and warm apple cider topped with whip cream and a caramel drizzle.
With the opening of Sunset Hollow Wine Bistro & Gifts, the wine barn out at the ranch will still be used, but more focused on special events, Melissa said. And they are still planning to have goat yoga and wine in the summer on the ranch.
For more information, follow them on Facebook at: or call 715.722.0471.

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