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Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011

Chiselled Grape Brings Wine to Grafton

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Though wine won't soon replace beer as Wisconsin's unofficial state beverage, wineries have sprouted around the state over the last decade. That growth coincides with wine aficionados becoming more open to a wider variety of wines, including ones fermented from cold-weather grapes. One of the newest of these state wineries is also one of the closest to Milwaukee, the Chiselled Grape Winery in Grafton, about 20 minutes north of Milwaukee. Founders Harald Tomesch and Allan Haas opened the winery this summer in a beautifully rehabbed, hundred-year-old schoolhouse at 1206 Lakefield Road, at the intersection of Port Washington Road.

"When we saw the building, we knew it was perfect for us, and we've taken great care bringing it back to life, making the main floor our tasting room and store and putting a full food-processing plant on the lower level," Tomesch says. "We knew we wanted to open somewhere with really high visibility, so eventually we'll have signs on I-43 welcoming people to the winery, which will be great when people are going up to Packers games or Door County. We're really hoping that Milwaukee adopts us. How many wineries do you know of that are within a 15-mile radius of Downtown Milwaukee?"

This summer Tomesch and Haas planted specialty cold-weather grape vines in an acre-long vineyard on the property. Those grapes won't be ready for harvest until 2013, so in the meantime they are bottling a wide selection of California wines under the Chiselled Grape label and fermenting grapes from Wisconsin growers to produce their own wines, including a red port and a late-harvest white wine.

The winery's signature release is The Little Red Dress, a full-bodied blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Freisa and Cabernet Franc. The winery plans to release a new Little Red Dress blend each year, commemorating each with an invitation-only party.

The winery is open year-round and its shop also sells cigars, fine chocolate, cheese and jams—all of which were selected to pair well with Chiselled Grape wines, Tomesch says—as well as books and other wine products and glasses. For more information, visit chiselledgrape.com.
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