Autumn Harvest Winery was included in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s The List of Largest Wisconsin Wineries and featured in the accompanying article. You can read more below.
As seen in the Milwaukee Business Journal:
Taking taste buds to new heights, wineries around Wisconsin are creating flavorful wines and are welcoming visitors to come to their tasting rooms and sip for a while.
Many of the winemakers are establishing themselves as local favorites as well as putting their particular wine specialties on the map.
The list of the largest wineries in the state is ranked by cases of wine produced in 2015. And each winery listed submitted information on their vineyards and wineries to the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Only those submitting information requested are considered for inclusion on The List.
Number one on this year’s list with 100,000 cases of wine produced in 2015 is Wollersheim Winery, Prairie du Sac.
Besides the cases produced, The List offers information about the number of wine varieties, the number of employees in the state, and samples of some of their wines, plus names of top winery executives.
One thing that struck me in information submitted and questions answered was how family pride and tradition play a big role in the winery scene around the state. Interesting to note is that 22 of the 25 largest wineries are 100 percent family-owned.
At Autumn Harvest Winery in Chippewa Falls, co-owner Jean McIlquham said, “The most rewarding part of the business is spending time with our family. Just about everyone that works with us here is family and we do everything together from picking apples to bottling the wine.”
Also included in the web version of The List is information about the percent of wine produced from Wisconsin grapes, either from an estate vineyard or with help of other growers in the state.
And from this information it is clear that many wineries are producing and bottling a portion of their products from grapes shipped fresh from areas outside of the state in parts of the country more conducive to particular varieties.
Expressing what makes their work so rewarding is something many winemakers were only too happy to convey.
Paul Koehler, general manager of Captain’s Walk Winery in Green Bay said, “The diverse following that we draw from both locally, nationally and abroad. I find it very gratifying to help produce and present a line of wines and hard ciders that people enjoy.”
At Burr Oak Winery-Kennedy Vineyards, New Lisbon, manager Terri Bell said simply, “The best part of the business is the people we get to meet. Everyday we meet the nicest people.”
Echoing that was Laura Roessler, winemaker at Elmaro Vineyard, Trempealeau, who noted she enjoys that “people love to be here as much as we do.”
President and winemaker at Mount Horeb’s Fisher King Winery, Alwyn Fitzgerald, said the most rewarding aspect for him is seeing patrons congregate at the winery, really enjoying the wine he has produced.
Steve Johnson, owner and winemaker of Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery, Kewaunee, honed in on the process of winemaking that gives him the most satisfaction.
“What I enjoy most is the journey of growing the wine from bud to bottle, knowing that the choices and effort is reflected in every aspect of the finished wine,” he said.
A few wineries that stepped up and sent information didn’t make the list for cases produced but that doesn’t diminish the work they are doing and contributions they are making to the wine industry in the state — and their wines, of course.
Vines to Cellar Winery in Port Washington, just missed the list with 1,666 cases produced in 2015, but touted its U-Vin program where guests can come in and help produce a batch of wine, work with the winemaker, learn the basics of winemaking and then return to fill, cork and label your own 30-bottle batch of wine.
Two newer wineries also submitted data. At Duck Creek Vineyard and Winery, opened in Denmark in 2013, production in 2015 was 800 cases. And at newcomer Brambleberry Winery, opened in Taylor in 2014, production for 2015 was 416 cases.
Brambleberry owner Chris Hardie said, “To see the reaction of customers when they realize that they might really like a type of wine when they say they don’t. They have not been given a proper wine tasting.”