Have Wine, Will Travel
Wisconsin vintners around the state are the spotlight of the show at this year’s food and wine fete
What better way to find your favorite wine than to sample it first? At this year’s Madison Food & Wine Show you can taste-test the best and most popular wine selections from various wineries. Winemakers and their staff will be on hand at each booth all weekend to answer your questions and offer recommendations and backgrounds on the wines as you enjoy them. Check out this sneak peek of five wineries and their top picks.
Ted and Helen Kearns own and operate one of the few Wisconsin wineries that grow as many as twelve varieties of grapes on their estate. They have a goal to remain local and ignore the national markets—a goal that may be hard to maintain considering they won their first gold medal at the First International Cold Climate Wine Competition at the Minnesota State Fair last year with their Driftless White.
Most Popular: Driftless White, an estate wine made from the La Crosse grape. Ted says expect to experience green apple on the front ending with subtle notes of pear, apricot, or peach depending on your palate. It tastes similar to a Riesling, an effect achieved by fermenting it with Riesling yeast from Germany. Try it with veal or chicken dinners.
Winery Favorite: Driftless White of course! Otherwise, Helen likes the semi-dry Marechal Foch that is most comparable to a merlot.
Trademark Wine: Bashful Blush is Helen’s secret creation in response to overwhelming requests for a blush. Ted tells us it is quickly rising in popularity.
If you want to try something new, try this: St. Croix, from a hardy grape developed specifically to weather the colder climate in Wisconsin.
Door Peninsula Winery
Jaime Forest, the marketing manager for Door Peninsula Winery, speaks very passionately of the wines they offer, and how their vision is evolving to embrace new demands. Their goal is to bring quality, fun local wine to Wisconsinites at an affordable price: most wines are $10 and under.
Most Popular: Hallowine, which is a Door County sweet apple wine. Forest says it is a “version of a sassy apple cider. Many people have never had a mulled, spiced wine, and have never had it warmed up. It instantly gives you a very warm, comfort-food kind of feel—like a fresh baked apple pie.” Serve it warm with or without food or take it to a bonfire. She also confides that many people actually stockpile Hallowine for Christmas or for spring camping trips when it’s still cool. It is, however, available year-round in their store.
Winery Favorite: Peninsula White, grown in Door County with fifteen percent apple and the Seyval Blanc grape. Forest’s food recommendations? She says candidly “if it has mozzarella, this is the silver bullet.” The White Riesling also tops her list because it is not too sweet and has hints of melon and honey.
Trademark Wine: Besides the Hallowine, the Blackberry Merlot is a must-have.
If you want to try something new, try this: Sunset Splash, with flavors including apple, citrus, pineapple, and mango. It is styled like a white sangria and is perfect for any warm day or faux trip to the tropics. Serve it like a punch instead of a wine.
The winery, born from Oak Ridge Vineyards and the hands of Marion and Marlys Weglarz, excels at cold-climate crops—especially grapes. The winery grows around ninety percent of the grapes used in their wines, not to mention the apples, peaches, Asian pears and some of the cherries that are essential ingredients for Weggy’s popular fruit wines. If you get the opportunity to visit, the personable staff will enthusiastically regale you with any detail you ever wanted to know about wine and grapes. Just ask.
Most Popular: Oak Ridge Red was a gold medal winner in California this year’s National Women’s Wine Competition and is a semi-dry red made from home-grown grapes. Try it with pizza or pasta.
Winery Favorite: The Oakey Red, a dry estate wine aged in oak that needs no food to enhance it. If you’d like to serve it with a meal, Marlys recommends steak or any other beef-involved meal.
Trademark Wine: Weggy Blue, a semi-sweet white with subtle notes of peach and citrus.
If you want to try something new, try these: Apple Blackcurrant uses Weggy’s own fruit, the Apple Wine incorporates their vineyard honey, The Cranberry Wine is produced from Wisconsin bogs and the LaCresent which uses grapes grown in the vineyard.
Prairie du Sac, WI
Wollersheim winery has a rich heritage of winemaking. Briefly started in the 1840s, it was reinvented in 1972. In 1984, the Wollersheims miraculously stumbled onto current winemaker, Frenchman Philippe Coquard (or vice versa). In 1989 Prairie Fumé hit the market, and the rest is, well, history. In the years since, Philippe and Julie Coquard have undeniably found the perfect blend for their remarkable wines. France is just going to have to do without; we’re keeping them.
Most Popular: It’s “Home of Prairie Fumé” for a reason—this wine put Wollersheim on the map, and gave it a gold star. Vice president Julie Coquard says the reason is that the wine is extremely well balanced. Wine connoisseurs can appreciate its intricacies and those who don’t really drink wine will identify its smooth appeal that works for any occasion. Take it on a picnic, or serve it with a salad or hors d’oeuvres.
Her Favorite: Prairie Fumé, Chardonnay or Prairie Sunburst Red, depending on the occasion.
Trademark Wine: Hands down the Prairie Fumé. Runner-up however, would have to be the Domaine du Sac, a barrel-aged dry red that’s good with most anything.
If you want to try something new, try these: The Dry Riesling will be love on first taste, or the Pinot Noir.
Concerned over the choices and selections? Don’t be. Keep track of all your favorites using the handy tasting journal tucked in your Food and Wine Show goodie bag.
Of course there’s more than Wisconsin wines at this year’s show—California wines are a perennial favorite.
Owners and brothers Michael and David Phillips are the astonishing fifth generation of growers on their family farm located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Having strong, intimate ties to the land is what drives them to use natural, earth-friendly methods in their vineyard and winery. The Phillips brothers are committed to creating approachable, drinkable wines that have broad appeal.
Most Popular: 7 Deadly Zins, which is also their trademark wine. Besides the intriguing name and bottle, the wine is a smooth, inviting zinfandel. Try it with peppercorn steak right off the grill, BBQ, pulled pork, or pizza.
Winery Favorite: Paul Muñoz, the marketing manager for Michael-David Winery, loves the 6th Sense Syrah because it has more oak, dark fruit flavors and a peppery finish.
If you want to try something new, try these: Rock your world with the Earthquake Zin, Lust Zinfandel or Petite Petit.
Where to find the vineyards mentioned above:
19245 W. Mound Rd., Platteville
Door Peninsula Winery
5806 Hwy. 42, Sturgeon Bay
4580 West Hwy. 12, Lodi, CA
30940 Oak Ridge Dr., Muscoda
7876 Hwy. 188, Prairie du Sac