By Pat Dillon
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
It’s nearly impossible to visit Door County without having cherries come into a conversation or appear on a menu. From farm markets to wineries to canned goods, products from the region’s most prized fruit are a sweet (and sometimes sour) fringe benefit of the Door Peninsula’s cool winds off Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Wisconsin loves Door County cherries, but the best place to go and get them is from those who love them the most: the area’s growers.
Seaquist Orchards in Sister Bay is the largest tart Montmorency cherry grower in Door County. They also grow apples, raspberries, apricots and pears. The entire family is involved in the growing, producing and processing of its 72 different kinds of jams, jellies, pie fillings and salsas.
But what really sets this orchard apart is its limited use of pesticides. Go to the Seaquist Orchards farm market to purchase their fruit and products, or to educate yourself and family about their sustainable practices. For a small fee, you’ll get a first-hand explanation of how it all works.
Pick Your Own
Seven thousand cherries can be mechanically shaken from a tree in seven seconds. Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market in Fish Creek shakes 60 to 100 trees an hour during harvest season, yielding enough fruit to make 28 pies and 30 bottles of wine. They’re a fourth-generation family-run orchard that’s as much about the Montmorency cherry and its products as they are about the wine they make.
Here you can pick your own or get freshly packaged cherries and apples, or pick up a still warm, home-baked pie. You also can taste their sweet cherry and fruit wines.
Shaken Never Stirred
For those who like their cherries to come distilled or fermented, Door County is as well known for its cherry wine and distilled cherry products as it is for its pies, jams and canned goods. Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville, the area’s oldest, started in a two-room schoolhouse in the mid-1800s and since has expanded to include Door County Distillery.
You can get a tour of the facility every hour and go to their tasting room for a sip of their wines, vodka, brandy, bitters and moonshine. Yes, cherry moonshine. Dine at the winery’s restaurant, Bistro 42, and order something with cherry compote or cherry barbecue sauce if you want to complete the circle.
Tour De Force
If covering ground with some real direction is your style, take the Door County Wine Trail. It starts at Sturgeon Bay and winds up the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan leading to eight artisanal wineries, each known for their cherry wine and cherry products. The trail schedule includes times of tastings, tours and hours.
In and Out Cherries
The Cherry Hut, Door County’s oldest roadside market, is located just outside Fish Creek. If you just want to drive up and grab some cherry products and go, this is the spot. Here you’ll find their own canned cherry products and those of producers throughout the peninsula—Door County Distillery, Fat Louie’s cherry wines and barbecue sauce, and many other products.