Drink It In
Winery-hop your way through Southwestern Wisconsin
Winding roads through rolling hills with trees turned crimson and gold. Savory local wines spanning from oaky reds to sweet whites. Do you need another reason to take a winery-hopping day trip? Grab a designated driver and sip your way through southwestern Wisconsin.
Spurgeon Vineyards & Winery
What you’ll find: This family-run winery in Highland has a welcoming, relaxed and slightly rustic vibe. Browse the wine and accessories for sale or step right up to the carved-wood bar featuring over fifteen wines to sample. Here, staffers guide you through the offerings, separated into sweet, semisweet and dry categories. Those who want to learn about grape growing and wine production can join a guided tour (Saturdays at noon or by appointment April through October, $3). Or take a self-guided twenty-minute hike up nearby hills for views of the sixteen-acre vineyard.
Be sure to try: Ruby Lady, a sweet red, ranks among the winery’s most popular. And also sample the crisp, non-oaky Chardonnay, flavorful cranberry wine, and mead made from apple blossom honey for a well-rounded tasting tour.
Stay awhile: Buy a bottle of wine and some local cheese from the gift shop and enjoy both at a table on the shaded front deck looking out on tree-covered hills.
Check out: The 19th Annual Harvest Festival, held October 10–11, features hayrides through the vineyards, winery tours, live music and more.
What you’ll find: Entering this stone-walled Muscoda winery feels like stepping into a cave. A long wood table separates you from steel tanks, boxes and other components of the working winery. But at that table is where the knowledgeable staff introduces you to twenty-two wines ranging from oak-tinged reds to vibrant fruit wines. Hour-long narrated tram tours take visitors through the fifteen-acre vineyard and seven acres of orchards (Saturday and Sunday, May through October, $7.50).
Be sure to try: The Oak Ridge Red comes highly recommended for new red drinkers, while the Oakey Red and Pinot Noir should please more veteran palates. The Weggy Blue, a semisweet blend of two white grapes, has been the winery’s top seller for the past two years, but the cranberry and fruit wines are also worth a taste.
Stay awhile: Relax at one of the outdoor patio tables and soak up sweeping views of grapevines and wooded hills.
Check out: October 3 brings the first annual Rockin’ Grape Stomp, with live music, food and wine, kids’ activities and a grape-stomping competition for adults.
What you’ll find: As you meander down a gravel road, you’ll pass cornfields on the right and grapevines on the left on the way to this Viroqua winery, which opened in 2006. Inside, pick five of roughly a dozen wines to sample and chat with staff who have interesting stories to tell about winemaking in the area.
Be sure to try: The Bad Axe River Sweet white dessert wine is a hit with visitors, while the winery also offers a sweet German-style white named Edelweiss, a blush and Foch they serve chilled, and the Three Chimneys Red, described as a “great dinner and by-the-fire wine.”
Stay awhile: Do not leave without nabbing a spot on the wood patio or at a picnic table on the edge of the grounds overlooking the Bad Axe River and upper Newton valley.
Check out: The Colors Galore Artist Day on October 10 brings artists from around Wisconsin to the vineyard to capture fall color and harvest scenes on-site.
Why Stop Now? Extend your winery tour up the western edge of Wisconsin. Check out Seven Hawks Vineyard in Fountain City
(sevenhawksvineyards.com), Maiden Rock Winery in Stockholm (maidenrock-winerycidery.com) and Chateau St. Croix in St. Croix Falls (chateaustcroix.com). For additional options, visit wiswine.com for a list of Wisconsin wineries, plus event information and itineraries.
Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.