on November 1, 2009
We left the Larson's Famous Clydesdale attraction in barely enough time to make the 2-hour drive to our next attraction - the Wollersheim Winery. Tours are given every hour starting at 10:15 AM with the last of these occurring at 4:15 PM.We began by watching a short film on the history of the winery. It was started by Count Agoston Haraszthy of Hungary in the 1840's. He soon abandoned the winery and moved to the more favorable climate in California where he founded that state's wine industry. The Wollersheim family bought the abandoned Wisconsin winery in 1972. Philippe Coquard, a French winemaker, married into the family and passed on his knowledge of winemaking.The rain had stopped long enough for our guide to take us outside to see the vineyards on the hillside. We were then led inside to the fermentation room where we watched a film on how the machines before us are used. There were charts on the wall that showed the temperature and duration of fermentation needed to produce the various wine flavors.Next, our guide took us downstairs to the cellar where the aging of the red wines takes place in oak barrels. The white wines are not aged in barrels. They only go through the fermentation process.Finally, we were led upstairs to the wine tasting room. My mother, my wife, and I generally do not drink alcohol but decided to partake in the tasting anyway. We were given a list of the wines we'd be tasting, some oyster crackers to cleanse our palates between tastings, and water to rinse the glasses between tastings. Our guide gave us instructions on how to inspect the wine by sight, by smell, and finally by taste. He recommended we rate each wine we tasted on the list he gave us so that we could remember the names of the ones we liked just in case we decide to buy a bottle.We tasted the five products (four wines and one non-alcoholic champagne) the winery recommends and then we could request any of the remaining eight wines listed. My mother and I tried two or three more beyond the five while my wife, being the thorough person she is, tasted all of them. I never knew there were so many variations of the beverage.The tour and tasting lasted about 45 minutes. The winery was closing by the time we finished but we had a quick look around its store where you can purchase their products. Their wines are mainly sold in Wisconsin and in parts of Illinois.The Wollersheim Winery tour was a fun, inexpensive outing. It costs $3.50 per person. Our Southwest Wisconsin Passes covered that price. The wine tasting is free regardless of whether or not you do the tour.
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