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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Door County Wineries

Life is just a glass of cherry wine

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Wisconsin's Door County shares the same latitude with well-known wine regions in France and Italy, so it makes sense that much of our state's wine production takes place there. Unlike the European wine country, however, we experience a colder winter season that most traditional grape vines will not survive. This encourages creative winemakers to draw upon the fruits of the plentiful Door County orchards, local cold-hardy grape varietals, and grapes from other parts of the country to produce an expansive range of wines on the peninsula.

Door County has become such a wine lover's destination that it now has its own wine trail and a trolley that travels between several of the most popular wineries. There are also a few wineries to check out just before you reach "The Door," including Parallel 44 and Von Stiehl. They may not be located in Door County, but they embody the same spirit as their neighbors to the north.

Parallel 44 Winery


The winemakers at Parallel 44 pride themselves on growing grapes that withstand the cold Wisconsin winters. The varietals they grow are genetically related to the better-known Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes. The wines that Parallel 44 produces from these grapes are bright, crisp and well balanced. Their Frozen Tundra wine was famously involved in a wager between the mayors of Green Bay and Chicago before the Packers-Bears NFC Championship game in 2011. They offer complimentary tastings, as well as free tours May 1-Oct. 30.

www.parallel44.com,
N2185 Sleepy Hollow Road, Kewaunee, 888-932-0044

Von Stiehl Winery

Von Stiehl Winery is nicely situated in a historic 1868 building. The space, once a brewery, works well for a winery. The cool limestone cellar that had been good for brewing is also good for fermenting and aging wine—as evidenced by the 16,000-plus cases of wine produced annually. Von Stiehl makes 25 varieties, including an award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and best-selling Riesling, using Wisconsin-grown fruit, grapes from their small vineyard and grapes from California. The winery offers complimentary tastings. Tours cost $4 per person; times and dates vary throughout the year.

www.vonstiehl.com,
115 Navarino St., Algoma, 800-955-5208

Red Oak Vineyard


Red Oak makes their wines with grapes from California, Washington and their own Door County vineyard. Local fruits are used for their award-winning Door County Cherry Beaujolais and Ruby Cherry port wine. Tastings, which cost $5 a person, include cheese, bread and chocolate. No tours are available.

www.redoakvineyard.com,
325 N. Third Ave., Sturgeon Bay, 920-743-7729

Door Peninsula Winery

For more than 25 years the Door Peninsula Winery has been well known for their award-winning fruit wines. Their Sweet Cherry wine, made from local cherries, and other sweet fruit wines have been their mainstays. They also produce a full range of popular reds and whites. In 2011 they expanded their facility to include a distillery, and now they produce vodka, cherry vodka and gin. Plan for lunch or dinner at the on-site restaurant, Bistro 42. In addition to complimentary tastings, tours are available year round for $3 per person.

www.dcwine.com, 5806 Highway 42, Sturgeon Bay, 920-743-7431

Simon Creek Winery


Simon Creek Winery has been producing wines in their modern facility for nearly 10 years. Surrounded by a 30-acre vineyard, visitors will truly feel as though they are in the heart of wine country. Popular award-winners include American Gewurztraminer, a sweet German-style white, and "Untouchable Red" American Ruby Cabernet. During peak season, live music is featured on Sundays. There are complimentary tastings, as well as free tours year round.

www.simoncreekwines.com,
5896 Bochek Road, Sturgeon Bay, 920-746-9307

Harbor Ridge Winery


One of the newest wineries in Door County, Harbor Ridge shares a winemaker with the well-established Von Stiehl Winery. Harbor Ridge offers five unique wines. The Mademoiselle White, a blend of Chardonnay, Traminette and Sauvignon Blanc, and the Knockin' Heads Red, a blend of Cab Franc and Marechel Foch, were the first wines produced with the Harbor Ridge label. The Cherry Crush celebrates Door County and the tart Montmorency cherry. Three new wines will be ready for release this summer. The winery offers complimentary tastings. No tours are available.

www.harborridgewinery.com,
4690 Rainbow Ridge Court, Egg Harbor, 920-868-4321

Stone's Throw Winery


The winemaker at Stone's Throw produces a wide variety of wines in small batches, including red wines like Zinfandels and Cabs and whites like Riesling. Wines are made from carefully selected Door County and California grapes. The Stone's Throw name may be familiar locally, as their wines are available at area Sendik's stores. Tastings are available—$5 includes a signature wine glass; $15 gets you handmade chocolate and wine pairings—as well as tours for $10 per person.

www.stonesthrowwinery.com, 3382 County Road E, Baileys Harbor, 920-839-9660

Orchard Country Winery


Most of the fruit and grapes used to produce Orchard Country wines are grown on the 100-acre site. In addition to traditional grape-based wines, the winery produces 14 different cherry wines, including pure cherry and cherry blends made with grapes and other fruits. 2011 award-winners include Honeycrisp Apple and Door County Sparkle. Orchard Country offers complimentary tastings. Tours of the orchards, vineyard and production area take place May 1-Oct. 31. For $3 per person, tours come with a commemorative wine glass.

www.orchardcountry.com,
9197 Highway 42, Fish Creek, 866-946-3263

For more information about the Door County wine trail or winery trolley tours, visit
www.doorcounty.com, www.doorcountytrolley.com and www.doorcountywinetrail.com.

Wine From Way Up North

The owners of White Winter Winery embrace the ideals of the sustainability movement and employ them in the creation of their products. White Winter tries to use only fruits and honey grown within 150 miles of their location, a task that is made easier in the "micro-climate" near Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin, where the winery is located. Their eco-friendly attitude earned them Travel Green Wisconsin certification in 2009, which recognized their commitment to recycling, composting and "buy local" practices. White Winter produces traditional meads, or honey wines, that include sweet, dry and fruit-blended, as well as hard apple cider and non-alcoholic fruit spritz. The winery offers complimentary tastings and free tours.

www.whitewinter.com, 68323 Lea St., Iron River, 800-697-2006