Frozen Tundra Cheeseheads savor Wine?
Wisconsin is known for its beer. We lead the nation in per capita consumption. But this is changing. Far from the stereotype image of a cheese-headed Packer fan with a grilled brat in one hand and a beer in the other, we are increasingly putting down the beer steins and picking up wine glasses.
Offering 45 independent wineries in 5 unique wine regions, the dairy state has quality cold-climate wine to pair with our famous cheeses, and we offer several tours to prove it.
For Green Bay Packer fans who don't want to stray too far from Lambeau Field and the Packer Hall of Fame, there is the Fox Valley Region, which includes variety such as the Trout Springs Winery, a unique juxaposition of a Class A Trout Hatchery and winery, and Captain's Walk Winery, located near downtown Green Bay in a pre-civil war era home.
We attended the Von Stiehl Winery's Wet Whistle Wine fest in Algoma last September and found a dilemma: should we sample their wine, or craft beer from their adjunct business, Ahnapee Brewery, which was featuring a Mushroom Brown Ale brewed with four different kinds of wild fungi? Luckily, we compromised at doing both, which took the better part of a very enjoyable day.
Close to Algoma is another favorite, Parallel 44, located on the same latitudinal line as the great wine regions of Tuscany and Bordeaux. We recently shared their "Petite Pearl," a cold-climate grape red made in only two locations in the world. Join their wine club to stay in touch with their many events. For hardier souls, the famous Frozen Tundra Wine Fest is offered in late February, where music, cheese, wine sampling, food and song blend with snowflakes to create lasting memories. Don't forget to try the St Pepin Late Harvest, which is harvested in late October and put through a cool, slow fermentation to highlight the grape's complex tropical flavors.
For those who prefer an "up north" experience, the Northwoods Regions offers wine in idyllic settings, such as the Bayfield Winery overlooking beautiful Lake Superior. For those with Viking roots, world class meads and brackets are crafted at White Winter Winery in the town of Iron River.
In the southeastern part of the state, the Glacial Hills region near Milwaukee offers a 3-day and 2-night tour to nine award-winning wineries, all located in weekend escapes known for their natural beauty and charm.
Finally, the "driftless region" in the southeastern corner of Wisconsin offers a completely different, milder microclimate that allows more traditional grape varieties to thrive. If you are up to visiting 13 wineries in 4 days and 5 nights, this could be the "bucket list" of all Wisconsin winery tours. High plateaus, deep green valleys, and streams filled with native brook and wild brown trout abound.
So, here is the plan: pick at least one tour per summer, and put it on the calendar. We suggest the Fox Valley Region for early in the summer, and the Northwoods Region for later in the season, when a variety of meads become available. During the Fall Festival season, tour the Door County region. After that, spend the winter weekends working through your cache of whites, then the reds, while planning your tours of the Glacial Hills and Driftless regions for the following year. We hope to see you on some tours, and don't forget to pick up some artisan cheese along the way!