A trip to Wisconsin’s Wollersheim Winery

Typically when we think of American wine, we think of California, Oregon or Washington.  Wine aficionados may know of the hidden gems produced in Arizona and New York.  But have you ever heard of Wisconsin wine?

wisconsin wineYou might be surprised to hear that a little winery from Wisconsin has won some big awards.  Wollersheim winery  from Prarie du Sac, Wisconsin took home “Winery of the Year”  at the San Diego International Wine Competition.  They entered 6 wines in the competition and  took home an unprecedented 6 platinum medals from San Diego, while winning best of class Riesling and Syval.  Wollersheim also won “Best of Show” honors at the Eastern International Wine Competition this spring.  Not only that but I just did a quick search of Vintank’s Winery Social Media Index, and Wollersheim was actually ranked #46 in the world for its social engagement.  These are no small feats for a little winery from Wisconsin!

I decided to travel to Wisconsin and see for myself what all the excitement was about.  Being from Phoenix, Arizona I was extremely lucky that Wisconsin was in the midst of an historic spring heat wave!  The temps were almost 40F above normal!

The Wollersheim property actually has some amazing history behind it.   A Hungarian nobleman named Agoston Haraszthy first planted vines there in the 1840’s.

wisconsin wine

The original wine tasting room built in 1847

Haraszthy left in 1849 for California where he ended up hiring Charles Krug!  The winery was taken over by the Kehl family and they continued to make wine until 1899 when Jacob Kehl died.  The Kehl family stopped making wine but continued to work the farm until 1972.

In 1972 Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim bought the property.  They began restoring the property into a working vineyard and winery.  They replanted the hills with vines, and restored the underground wine cellars.  Current wine maker Philippe Coquard first visited the winery in 1984 when he was on an exchange program from his native France.  Well he ended up marrying Robert and JoAnn’s eldest daughter, Julie and now they both run the vineyard and winery.

The Wollersheim Vineyard property is as quaint and scenic as many of the secluded Napa vineyards.  An interesting sidenote:  The winery is located just 10 miles from the town of Lodi – – – Wisconsin!

Wisconsin wine

Click on this picture to see the full size version

wisconsin wine

The original wine cellar

Wollersheim’ s vines are planted on one of the few substantial slopes in the region.  Being from Arizona, and having lived in British Columbia, the landscape in Wisconsin looked REALLY flat to me.  The hills overlooking the winery are top out at just over 1,000 feet and are actually some of the tallest in the region.

wisconsin wine

Original wine cave

I sat down for my afternoon tasting and manged to taste every one of Wollersheims wines.  I mentioned before that Wollersheim was a little winery, well it was during my tasting I found out they are actually pretty HUGE.

Wollersheim and sister winery Cedar Creek produced 220,000 gallons of wine in 2011!!  Not all the fruit is estate grown, and infact the award winning Riesling comes from Washington State. In total Wollersheim produces 1.1 million bottles of wine using fruit from Wisconsin, Washington State and New York.  Wollersheim and Cedar Creek harvested 125 tons of Estate and Wisconsin-grown grapes and produced 21,000 gallons of wine in 2011.

wisconsin wine

The Wine Cow

My favorite wine was Wollersheim Dry Riesling made from custom grown fruit in Washington State.  I found this wine to be a little drier than wines of Mosel, but still quite similar.  For $9 a bottle this is one of the most amazing wine deals I have ever come across.  I actually blurted out: “Why is it so cheap??”  This wine could easily sell for $30 a bottle.  In fact most  of Wollersheims wines are under $10 with their most expensive running $20

If you ever come across this wine buy it!  And if you’re ever near Madison Wisconsin, it would be worth your while to take a trip to Wollersheim Winery!

Wollersheim Winery Dry Riesling: 96 points Weekly Wine Journal

Here is a video of my visit


One comment

  1. From this area, we love this winery. Everyone should stop and visit with these wonderful, down to earth people.

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