Wine is currently being produced in all 50 states. When you think of solid wines, does Wisconsin come to mind? Probably not but with good reason.
Jack wasn’t making stuff up in Titanic when he told Rose that we have some of the coldest winters around. The weather is less than ideal but Wollersheim Winery/Distillery located in Prairie Du Sac, WI is doing things. It’s a freaking gem; rich in history, traditions and family values.
It all started in the 1840’s when Hungarian nobleman Agoston Haraszthy discovered the land that the winery sits on today and planted it with grapevines. He was only in WI a short time as he went where the money was and followed the Gold Rush to California where his impact on winemaking led him to be known as the “Father of California Viticulture”. German immigrant Peter Kehl took over and was succeeded by his son Jacob who continued to make wine and eventually brandy. Following Jacobs passing and a harsh winter the Kehl family converted the winery to a conventional farm. Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim bought the farm from Peter Kehl’s great-grandson in 1972 and restored it to a working winery. Philippe Coquard swooped in from Beaujolais on an agricultural exchange and in all his expertise became the winemaker in 1985. Today the winery is owned and operated by Philippe, his wife Julie, Bob and Joann’s eldest daughter.
Featuring converted fermentation/bottling rooms, the recently renovated historic hillside wine cave that was started by Harazsthy and finished by the Kehls and a fairly new distillery; the winery is now considered a national historic sight.
The Grapes: Wollersheim grows two French-American red hybrids Marechal Foch and Leon Millot and two Wisconsin-native American white hybrids, St. Pepin and LaCrosse. All of which are able to survive the winter. Go them!
They also work with vineyards in New York and Washington State to custom grow Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Seyval Blanc, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. And in 2013 collaborated with a California vineyard to produce Carignan.
Hard facts aside, the vineyard was absolutely gorgeous. The wine was phenomenal and despite buying many things; we didn’t spend a ton of money. Thanks for the great time, Wollersheim!