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Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery
by
Terry Sullivan

Summary: Parallel 44, so named because of its location on the 44th parallel, is a wonderful destination to learn about wine, walk the vineyards and taste wines. There are plans to increase the size of the vineyard and wine production. Watch this winery closely and see what they have to offer every year.

Parallel 44 Vineyard and WineryDepending on the route you take to Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery, you may notice the vineyard, you will definitely notice the Tuscan styled yellowish and cream winery building. From the parking area, walk to your right to the front of the building. When in front, the vineyard is to the right. A large comfortable seating area surrounds you including tables, chairs and gazebos. It is the perfect spot to view the vineyards and would make an enchanting setting for a wedding.

 

Video

Visitors entering the tasting room are directed to an adjacent room where they can view a short video about the winery and vineyard. The video is narrated by one of the owners, Steve Johnson, who grew up watching his father make wines. Steve has had a passion for wines for a long time. In the video, Steve mentions the similarities and differences between different wine regions located on the 44th parallel. Although Wisconsin’s harsh winters are too cold for vinifera grapes to survive, the hours of sunlight are similar to France’s Bordeaux wine region. Hybrid grapes can grow well in Wisconsin. Steve concludes the video discussing the goal of Parallel 44 to offer a wide range of wines to meet customer expectation.

Parallel 44 Vineyard and WineryVineyard and Winery Tour

We took a tour of the winery and vineyards with Shawn Niemann, an enthusiastic manager who also grows grapes and makes wine. After the video Shawn led us to the vineyard for a casual walk along the vines. Currently the vineyard has nine acres of grapes planted. There are plans to increase the planting of grapes to 25 acres. The vineyard is planted with Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Seyval Blanc, St. Croix, St. Pepin, La Crosse, Vignoles and Louise Swenson. Some of the grapes were planted in 2005. We noticed that some vines furthest away from the winery showed no growth on the vines. Perhaps they were damaged during the winter or late spring cold weather. However, grapes are resilient. New shoots were emerging from the base of the vines, ready to replace the dead vines.

Parallel 44 Vineyard and WineryShawn led us into the winery where we saw several stainless steel tanks and plenty of boxes of bottles. One stainless steel tank had a sign on it telling about the fermentation tanks. Visitors who do not take a tour can read the sign from the window in the tasting room. A room adjacent to the tank room has barrels aging wine. In 2008, over 2,100 cases of wine were produced mostly with grapes sourced from California, Washington and New York. Production will continue to increase as more estate grapes are harvested. Shawn mentioned that Parallel 44 will continue to source grapes from other states in order to offer customers wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 

Parallel 44 Vineyard and WineryParallel 44 Vineyard and WineryWines

We tasted several wines with Shawn. The Seyval Blanc had a citrus aroma and taste. It’s crisp finish had a grapefruit aftertaste. The floral Riesling had a citrus taste and finish. The Vignoles also offered a floral and citrus aroma. It had a smooth grapefruit taste and finished sweet with lingering grapefruit.

Rosso was made from the Marechal Foch grapes and had a purple transparent color. It offered a red fruit jam aroma and taste. Its fruity finish had a hint of tannins. The Cabernet Sauvignon had a spice aroma and blackberry taste. The fruity and spicy finish had mild tannins. The 2007 Meditation was made from the two year old estate grown Frontenac grapes. The purple color was almost opaque. The black fruit jam aroma and taste had a crisp finish. The 18 percent alcohol had no heat on the finish. The wine was not fortified; the alcohol was entirely from the yeast and chapelized berries.

Parallel 44 Vineyard and WineryAn assortment of wine related gifts are available in the retail portion of the tasting room. There are also some food items. If you forgot a picnic lunch, you can buy food and sit on the patio enjoying a Parallel 44 wine.

A visit to Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery is worth the drive. You will enjoy the setting, a walk in the vineyard and the wines.

Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery
N2185 Sleepy Hollow Road
Kewaunee, Wisconsin 54216

GPS: N44º 24.202’ W87º 39.846’

 

 

 


 

 

     

               

                  

 

 


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