By Pat Dillon
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Many regions in Wisconsin share the cool air and rolling landscape of Northern California, or even the Provence region in France, that made winemaking explode over the last several decades.
Wisconsin’s lush ambiance and its temperate, dry growing seasons have nurtured a perfect hub for vintners and wine lovers traveling the state. From cold-climate grapes to our bounty of fruits, like cherries, apples, pears and cranberries, there’s a vineyard waiting to treat you to a taste of their Wisconsin-grown wine and spirits.
Rollin' on the Great River Road
The Mississippi River region has eleven wineries thriving within its bluffs and valleys where vintners harvest an abundance of fruits and grapes that contribute to award-winning wines. Among them is Elmaro Vineyard in Trempealeau, a family-run vineyard on a rambling site that is otherworldly. They produce numerous varieties, from Wisconsin’s native cranberry to an oaked Chambourcin dry red, plus feature music, yoga and local art in their winery gallery.
North of Trempealeau, in historic Fountain City, Seven Hawks Vineyard overlooks the Mississippi River and produces several wines from grapes grown entirely on-site. Nearby its Hawks View Cottages & Lodge is a bluff-side anchor-point to enhance your tours of other vineyards and wineries along the Great River Road Wine Trail.
Wine and Spirits in Burlington
Located in a barn on an apple orchard in Burlington, AeppelTreow Winery and Distillery specializes in cider, perry and spirits, such as brandy and whiskey, and sparkling, draft, table and dessert wines.
Plan a day and wander its orchard paths, which border Bong State Recreation Area, picnic under an apple tree or just watch them working their orchards before enjoying five free samples. Or, pay $5 to sample all of the wines and ciders, distilled brandies and whiskies.
State Fair Favorite in Denmark
Duck Creek Vineyard and Winery, located in Wisconsin’s small burg of Denmark, produces award-winning, hand-crafted red and white wines, some with a twist of fruit, from cold-climate grapes grown on site.
An assortment of fruit-blend wines also are produced here, including a watermelon-merlot blend that’s a Wisconsin State Fair second-place winner. They also make a Kombucha Tea, a fermented drink rich in probiotics and detoxifiers thought of by some as the “elixir of life.” Visit the vineyard and craft your own batch of wine.
Calming Water and Wine in Neshkoro
Visit for free tours that end with complementary tastings in the winery built with wood salvaged from the original barn that stood on the property. The vineyard specializes in cold climate grape wines produced with fruits grown there such as blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb and strawberries.
Extreme Winemaking in Kewaunee
Go for the wine and stay for the rolling hills, roaming horses and views of Lake Michigan. Cold Country Vines and Wines, located in Kewaunee, labels their process as “extreme winemaking” that doesn’t pretend to imitate the flavors of French wine.
With 13 hand-crafted varieties, Cold Country uses homegrown cold climate grapes, just some locally grown, that can be enjoyed in warm months during music events offered on their grounds.
Planning a trip to wine country? Browse our directory, and check out these wineries along some of Wisconsin's prettiest rustic roads.