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Wollersheim Winery
by
Kathy Sullivan

Summary: Wollersheim Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Wisconsin. Grapevines were planted on the property in Prairie du Sac in 1840. Today the winery is Wisconsin’s largest winery producing 100,000 cases of wine. The winery is located in the Lake Wisconsin Viticultural Area.

Visitors arrive at Wollersheim Winery after traveling a winding driveway. The magnificent winery stone buildings are located atop a hill that slopes down to a parking lot. From below one can see the ivy-covered walls of the older section of the winery. A visit to Wollersheim Winery includes a lovely walk up a winding brick pathway. Visitors can choose to take a steep stairway to the top or the smooth pathway that curves around to the tasting room. Watch for the vineyard marked Vicki’s Vineyard.

Wollersheim Winery     Wollersheim Winery

History

Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin is the largest and one of the oldest wineries in the state. Vineyards were planted in 1840 by Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian Count. In 1849 after a number of years tending vineyards that did not survive the cold winters, Agoston went west in search of gold. The property was purchased by Peter Kehl, a German immigrant, who improved it by adding some of the current buildings to the property. Kehl’s son, Jacob, obtained the property and continued the winery until 1899. During the 1860’s the second floor was used as a dance hall. Today the same area is used to display artifacts and history for visitors.

At the end of the 1800’s the land was returned to other crops until 1972, when the current owners purchased it. Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim decided to replant the vineyards with hybrid varieties focusing on Marechal Foch. Today they have 27 acres of grapevines and produce 100,000 cases of wine. Other grapes for their wines are sourced from New York and Washington where the winery works closely with the vineyards to obtain the quality of grapes they want.

Tasting Room

The original tasting room has the historic aspects that provide nostalgia. The wide floorboards and a tasting counter created with a section of a large barrel is a unique tasting bar. Two other tasting areas are in the older building. Just a few steps away, in the new building, the new tasting room and retail shop offer tastings for small groups and an array of gift products to browse. Take time to look at the wine related books and gourmet goods. Gourmet foods include Vineyard Pasta, Cherry Flavored Honey, Raspberry Flavored Honey and Raspberry Pinot Noir Chocolate Sauce.

Wollersheim Winery     Wollersheim Winery

Wollersheim WineryWines

At the end of the tour, we tasted several wines. The 2007 Domaine Reserve wine, produced from the oldest Marcehal Foch grapes planted in 1973, had an earthy, mushroom aroma with a smooth, earthy taste. The crisp finish is earthy with spice notes. The 2007 Domaine du Sac produced with Marechal Foch grapes offered a fruity aroma with nuances of raspberries. The taste was fruity. The crisp finish ended with spices. The 2008 Prairie Sunburst Red also made from Marechal Foch grapes had a raspberry aroma and taste. The finish was crisp and fruity. The 2008 Prairie Blush was a lovely pink, translucent color with a smooth taste. The 2008 Prairie Fumé produced with Seyval is Wollersheim’s number one seller. The wine has a citrus-grapefruit aroma with a taste of citrus and tropical fruit tastes with nuances of banana and mango. The 2007 Icewine is made in the Canadian style and the grapes are picked at 12 degrees Fahrenheit. This wine made with the Pepin variety had a velvety mouth feel with a sweet taste and finish.

Tours and Education

Education is important at the winery. Displays throughout the winery are used to provide information about Wollersheim Winery and winemaking. For example, a semi-open oak barrel shows the inside of the barrel and on top a jar tartaric acid and Cream of Tartar is displayed. Tartaric acid is a result of winemaking and Cream of Tartar is made from tartaric acid.

Tours include views of the winery facility from second floor windows that overlook stainless steel tanks. In another area, Wollersheim Winery’s barrel room with stone walls and arches adds an old world ambiance to the winery tour.

Wollersheim Winery     Wollersheim Winery

When you visit, be sure to join one of the regularly scheduled tours. It will add to your winery experience and enjoyment of the wines produced by Wollersheim Winery.

Wollersheim Winery
7876 State Rd 188
Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578

GPS: N43º 17.292’ W89º 42.481’


 

 

     

               

                  

 

 


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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2006-2014