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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brookfield's Do-It-Yourself Winery

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Water 2 Wine, a small San Antonio-based franchise of custom wineries, opened its first location in Wisconsin this month. The winery, which opened in the Plaza in Brookfield (17135 W. Bluemound Road), will eventually offer about 90 varieties of wine, all of which are made on-site and can be sampled before purchase. The business' most unique service, though, is a make-your-own-wine package.

“The customer mixes the grapes with the water, and in some cases with extra oak added or skins from the fruit so the wine gets a richer color, then we handle all the processing during the fermentation process,” explains manager Larry VanHoveln. “After that, the customer can come in and handle the bottling and corking. We encourage them to bring friends and snacks and to make a party out of it, because that's the fun part. They can also create a customized label to put on the bottle.” The process takes about 45 days (though for some wines it takes closer to 30) and yields 28 to 30 bottles of wine, or about two-and-a-half cases.

Water 2 Wine sources its grapes from about 100 vineyards in 14 countries. The variety allows the business to make a multitude of different wines, including African shirazes, high-end cabernets and old-vine zinfandels. The shop also offers ports and ice wines.

Fermenting the wine on-site has plenty of advantages, VanHoveln says. “Because we make our wines right on-site, we don't have to add anything to them,” he explains. “So our wines are very low on sulfites, which cause people headaches and flushed faces, and contain no histamines, which create flushed faces and stuffy noses for some people. People who have those problems with wines generally don't have them with our wines.

“Our wines are also typically just a little higher in alcohol content, for people who want that,” he adds. “We have many wines over 15%, and some over 18%. In a lot of cases wineries won't let their wines go up to those higher alcohol levels because they're taxed higher. We won't let that stop us. We'll let the grape give us as much alcohol as it can.”