By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 04, 2004 at 5:14 AM

{image1}If you've got a taste for wine and prefer to live the "Slow Food" philosophy and support your local wineries, there are two in southeastern Wisconsin that are growing their profiles, if not their own grapes.

Vetro Winery in Concord (Jefferson County) and Mason Creek Winery in Delafield both had high profiles in the wine tasting building at this year's State Fair and both are trying their hands at grape wines as well as wines from other fruits, like blueberries, cherries and cranberries.

As is often the case with Wisconsin wineries, neither does much in the way of viticulture here.

"Growing grapes requires a particular climate and soil," writes Mason Creek's Max Gomon on the winery's Web site. "Although grapes are successfully grown in Wisconsin, there are limited varieties that do grow well here. Growing grapes also requires a highly skilled viticulturist."

Instead, like Stone's Throw in Door County and Wollersheim in Prairie du Sac (which does have an impressive vineyard), these wineries buy most of the grapes from elsewhere, usually California, but also Oregon and New York.

Both are also small operations.

"My wife LaVerne and I are the whole company," says Bill Vetrano of Vetro, which means "glass" in Italian. "We have been in business for about two and a half years, but I have been making wine for 26 years."

Winemaking is a century-old tradition - at least - in Vetrano's family. His grandfather Michael made wine in Sicily before immigrating to the United States. As in grandpa's cantina, all of Vetro's work is done by hand.

"Right now my wife does all the labeling, selling and distributing, and she does this full time," says Vetrano. "I still have a 40-hour job at Quad/Graphics as an Electrician, but hope to do the wine business full time in the near future. We are currently running our winery out of our home, but soon our new building will be completed sometime this fall."

Vetro makes a Chardonnay, another white from Moscato, a white Zinfandel and a "Concordia Rossa," described as "a country-style red wine ... a rich Concord grape flavor." They also make wines from blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Prices hold at about $8-$10 a bottle.

{image2}Vetro's Web site is vetrowine.com. Check it out to learn about visiting the winery.

Meanwhile, Mason Creek, which began as a hobby for Gomon about 10 years ago, now produces 23,000 bottles of wine in a newly-renovated building on Main Street in Delafield. Since then, he has gone from award-winning amateur hobbyist to full-time professional winemaker.

Gomon, an engineer, and his wife Bobbi now make a fruity cranberry wine, a Riesling and another semi-dry white called "Gomon's Gold," along with a Chardonnay, a Zinfandel, Merlot and the fruity "River Red." Prices range from $8.50-$12 a bottle.

Mason Creek's Web site is masoncreekwinery.com. There you can find information on buying wines and visiting the winery.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.