Thanks to our climate, it's unlikely Wisconsin will ever become a wine lover's destination, although with Bordeaux winemakers buying up land in the south of England thanks to global warming, who knows! But that doesn't mean that some hearty Dairylanders aren't giving oenology the old college try.
While some, like Wollersheim and Spurgeon, use Wisconsin-grown grapes, they and others also rely on grapes grown in places like New York, Washington and California, too. Other winemakers here eschew the grape in favor of cherries, apples and other fruits.
Here are some of the wineries closest to Southeastern Wisconsin. For a complete list of winemakers in the other parts of the state, visit the Web site of the Wisconsin Winery Association (below).
1072 288th Ave., Burlington, (262) 878-5345
Opened in 2001 in a barn adjacent to the Brightonwoods Orchard near the Bong Rec Area, fruit wines are the specialty here, along with hard ciders.
Apple Barn Orchard & Winery
W6384 Sugar Creek Rd., Elkhorn, (262) 728-3266
There are no winery tours at Apple Barn – which makes a range of fruit wines – but there are free tastings from mid-June through mid-December and by appointment.
Captain's Walk Winery
345 S. Adams St., Green Bay, (920) 431-9255
Located in an antebellum house, Captain's Walk makes a wide variety of wine, from cab sauv to chardonnay to Merlot, Sangiovese, Marechal Foch and others. Cellar tours are not offered, but tastings are.
Cedar Creek Winery
N70 W6340 Bridge Rd., Cedarburg, (800) 827-8020
Cedar Creek has been located in an historic building in downtown Cedarburg since 1990 and its wines – including Syrah, Vidal, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon – have won numerous awards. It is owned by Wollersheim.
Kerrigan Brothers Winery
N2269 County N, Appleton, (920) 788-1423
Kerrigan, which makes fruit wines – including cherry, cranberry and apple – is open year round and offers free, daily tastings.
New Glarus Primrose Winery Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery Pieper Porch Winery & Vineyard Spurgeon Vineyards & Winery Stone's Throw Winery Trout Springs Winery Vetro Winery Von Stiehl Winery Wollersheim Winery
6381 State Hwy 57, Greenleaf, (920) 532-4384
Founded in 1999, LedgeStone is situated at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment – hence the ledge – and its wines include Frontenac (and a gris version), Sabrevois, St. Pepin, Edelweiss, La Crescent and other hearty varieties, as well as Cab Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Contact them for tour information. Open year-round.
500 1st St., New Glarus, (608) 527-5053
In a town known for its beer, Primrose makes grape and fruit wines from Wisconsin produce, including a rare rhubarb wine. There are no tours, but free tastings are offered all year long.
N2185 Sleepy Hollow Rd.,Kewaunee, (920) 362-1562
Located about 20 miles from Green Bay, Parallel 44 has nine acres in vines and produces Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Seyval, Gewurztraminer and other wines. Free guided tours are offered May 1 through Oct. 30. Tours are Friday, Saturday and Monday at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.. 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. No Monday tours in May.
S67W28435 River Rd., Waukesha, (262) 349-9092
Family owned and operated winery in Mukwonago, produces wines from varietals like Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel and Shiraz, and fruit wines including a lemon wine. Open Fridays-Sundays – and some holidays – May through December, 11 a.m. to 5, p.m.
16008 Pine Tree Rd., Highland, (800) 236-5555
The small, family-run Spurgeon has 16 acres of vineyard, although the tours spend most of the time in the winery itself, offering year round tours and tastings. Open daily 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Jan. 2-Dec. 23. Closed Thanksgiving and Easter. Nearly two-thirds of the grape wines are vinified from fruit grown in the adjacent vineyards.
3382 County Rd., Baileys Harbor, (920) 839-9660
Owner Russell Turco vinifies Syrah, Sangiovese, Barbera, Zinfandel, Merlot and a host of other grapes. Tastings in a state-of-the-art facility and Vino! Vino! wine bar.
8150 River Rd., Greenleaf, (866) OUR-WINE
There's also a fish hatchery on the grounds here and you can tour for free, Wednesdays-Sundays (weekends only in January). Tastings include a complimentary wine glass and samples of Trout Springs' food products, too. They vinify grapes like Petite Syrah and Sangiovese as well as plums, peaches and cranberries.
1414 Vino Lane, Jefferson, (920) 674-9650
The Vetrano family began making wine in Sicily more than a century ago and now Bill and La Verne carry on that tradition in this winery near Sullivan. They make Concordia Rossa, Merlot and others, as well as fruit wines in the new, larger place in Jefferson. Tastings are offered all year long and are free but donations to Wisconsin Special Olympics are encouraged.
115 Navarino St., Algoma, (800) 955-5208
One of the state's oldest wineries, Von Stiehl opens a window on early 20th century German Wisconsin and its wines have won more than a 100 medals. They vinify everything from Door County cherries to Cabernet to Riesling to Merlot. Open seven days a week. Tours – which are not free – are availabled May through October, 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. One tour per week – Saturdays at 2 p.m. – November-April.
7876 State Rd. 188, Prairie du Sac, (608) 643-6515
Open since 1972, Wollersheim occupies a Civil War era vineyard and an amazing collection of historical buildings. The award-winning wines are make from grapes grown in Wisconsin, France and elsewhere. Wollersheim was named 2012 Winery of the Year at the San Diego International Wine Competition. The winery is open 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily and tours are offered every day of the year (except Christmas, Easter, New Year's Day and Thanksgiving) every hour.
New Glarus Primrose Winery
Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery
Pieper Porch Winery & Vineyard
Spurgeon Vineyards & Winery
Stone's Throw Winery
Trout Springs Winery
Von Stiehl Winery
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.