on November 29, 2012
Located about 40 minutes from Wisconsin Dells, Wollersheim Winery makes for a nice leisurely day trip.In 2012 Wollersheim Winery was named the "Winery of the Year" at the San Diego International Wine Competition. Additionally, they have received numerous awards and accolades on many of their wines. They were proud to celebrate their 40th anniversary when it was proclaimed "Napa Valley thunder was stolen by a winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin."This location was recognized by the Dane County (Wisconsin) Historical Society in 2011. Originally founded by a Hungarian winemaker who chose this location overlooking the Wisconsin River back in the 1840's for his vineyards. Unfortunately the cold Wisconsin climate was not conducive to the European varieties of grapes he was attempting to grow, so in 1849 he packed up his bags and headed west with the California Gold Rush. There Agoston Haraszthy. became known as the founder of the California wine industry.The Wisconsin vineyard was later purchased and operated by Haraszthy's manager Peter Kehl in 1856. He continued to operate the winery through the end of the 19th century. In 1899 Wisconsin experienced an especially harsh winter that killed most of the vines. After that the farm became a dairy farm, with cows and other livestock.Fortunate for wine enthusiasts, the Wollersheim family bought the farm in 1972 from fourth generation heirs of Peter Kehl. Bob & JoAnn Wollersheim were committed to returning the land to grow grapes and produce wine. They experimented to find the best grapes to grow in Wisconsin. Their story continued as they raised their family on the farm, with their oldest daughter meeting and falling in love with a young French exchange student who came from a long family lineage of wine makers.Today Julie (Wollersheim) and Philippe Coquard operate the Wollersheim Winery. In addition to their wine making business, in 2010 they received licensing to distill and produce brandy. They also own and operate the Cedar Creek Winery in the Milwaukee suburb of Cedarburg.The winery is open daily 10am to 5pm year-round, with tours offered every hour starting at 10:15am and lasting about an hour. Price for the tour, which includes a tasting at the end is $5 per person. For those folks only interested in a tasting, they offer their "featured wines" sampling in their tasting room free of charge. They also offer a "red flight" or "white flight" for $3 per person. Wollersheim also offers a Caseclub Membership as well as packaged sales in their visitors' center. During my visit a family was buying all of the stuff necessary for a nice wine & cheese picnic. They bought a couple of bottles of wine, cheese and a box of crackers. They were debating hard cheese or cheese spread, so eventually they settled on buying both along with some summer sausage.Check out their website to find out more about their Caseclub Membership offerings as well as special events held throughout the year.
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