How to Taste Wine Like a Pro

Five Simple Steps

It’s Local Wine Week! We’re celebrating by sharing our wine tasting insights with you. A good friend and a bottle of wine isn’t all you need for a successful wine tasting. Learn how to tastewine like a professional with these five simple steps!

1. Cleanse Your Palate

Is important to have a clean palate while wine tasting to ensure an accurate taste of the wine. You can do this by eating the crackers provided or wine tasting on a relatively empty stomach. Once your palate is clean, pick your wine preference.

2. Glass Etiquette 

Something you may not consider is the size of the glass that you’re using. A large wine glass with a small amount of wine is ideal when wine tasting. Once the small amount of wine is poured, swirl it around to oxygenate the wine. Oxygenating the wine activates the true flavor of the wine.

3. Wake Up Your Senses 

Now that you’ve woken up the wine’s senses, smelling the wine far away and then up close wakes up your senses. Your sense of smell then anticipates the taste of the wine. Take time to look at the color of the wine. The color can give you more detail like how old the wine is. If you’re drinking a red wine, they tend to lose color as they age. White wines are vise versa, gaining a richer color as they age.

4. Taste Test 

It’s time to taste! Take a small sip and swirl it around your mouth. This gives all your tastebuds a chance to pick up any particular tastes that the wine offers. Allow time to enjoy the wine finish, which is the after taste that the wine offers. It’s an important part to the taste test!

5. Repeat & Enjoy

Once you’ve enjoyed your first sample, cleanse your palate and move onto the next!

Wine tasting is a fun way to visit with friends and family while tasting good wines. Enjoy complementary wine tastings are available in our tasting room Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.!


Celebrity Art Gala – Fan Favorite Winner!


Our own Jean McIlquham, co-owner of Autumn Harvest Winery and Orchard received the Fan Favorite Award at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire Celebrity Art Gala on October 5th hosted at the Lismore Hotel. Her piece raised $1,900 for the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and was purchased by Northwestern Bank.

Jean would like to thank her supporters, especially Jerry at Northwestern Bank and Jeff at Regis Court Dental Associates for their awesome bidding war!

7th Annual Celebrity Art Gala – As Seen on WEAU


Featured on WEAU this week was an introduction to the upcoming 7th Annual Celebrity Art Gala hosted at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, where our own, Jean McIlquham, is being featured as a celebrity artist this year!

The event will take place on Thursday, October 5th from 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM hosted at The Lismore.  Presented at the event will be a live auction, featuring one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces from local celebrities!

Celebrity Artists:
Dr. Rima DeFatta (DeFatta ENT)
Jean McIlquham (Autumn Harvest Winery + Orchard)
Catherine Emmanuelle (Eau Claire City Council)
Wes Escondo (Big Brothers Big Sisters)
Cyndee Kaiser (Local Artist)
Jamie Kane (Scheels)
Mark McHorney (United Heathcare)
Dr. Labcoat + Child Artists
Sara Brunner (Mayo Clinic Health System)
Mystery Artist!

Proceeds from the Celebrity Art Gala support the Museum’s Play For All Program. If you are interested in reserving a spot, please visit the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire website.

Fall Festival at Chippewa Falls Orchard Benefits the Alzheimer’s Association – As Seen on WEAU


As seen on WEAU:

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) — The leaves haven’t changed color yet, but families got a head start on celebrating the fall season this weekend.

Autumn Harvest Winery and Orchard in Chippewa Falls hosted day two of its annual Fall Festival Sunday.

People enjoyed apple picking, wine tasting, wagon rides, and a free corn maze.

Proceeds from apple picking and tasting room sales from Saturday and Sunday will be donated to a local charity.

“It’s a great event for people to come out and listen to live music, we have some big bands here this year and every year we give the proceeds to some kind of cause, this year is the Alzheimer’s Association,” said co-owner Jean McIlguham.

Autumn Harvest Winery and Orchard will be open six days a week until October 31 and will feature live music on Saturdays.

Fall Festival – September 9 & 10

Fall Festival – September 9 & 10

Chippewa Falls, WI – There’s nothing better than kicking off fall by picking your own apples, strolling through a corn maze and sipping on a glass of wine. Families and community members are invited to Autumn Harvest Winery and Orchard’s annual Fall Festival this Saturday and Sunday, where a portion of this year’s sales will benefit a local charity.

“We are always grateful to live and own a business in such a supportive community. This is an opportunity for us to give back and pay it forward,” said co-owner Jean McIlquham.

Proceeds from apple and tasting room sales on both Saturday and Sunday will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Visitors to the orchard are encouraged to enjoy family events, such as face painting and a petting zoo, and free live music events all weekend, including a free concert by Dead Horses, a popular folk band which performed at the Blue Ox Music festival.

“The fall season is something we look forward to all year. We have something for the whole family, so we are excited for this event!” said co-owner Chad McIlquham.

Fall Festival Autumn Harvest Winery & Orchard – As Seen on Mom’s Everyday

Chad McIlquham was featured on Mom’s Everyday this week sharing with us details about Autumn Harvest Winery’s Fall Festival event.

“This year’s fall festival is a fun, free, family event September 9th and 10th. This year we will have a corn maze, wagon rides, pick your own apples, ready to pick apples, fresh apple cider, a patio, live music from 10-6 both days. Wood-fired pizza on Saturday and barbecue on Sunday” shares McIlquham.

With all the exciting activities going on, it will be the perfect fall event for the whole family! For more details, visit our event page. A portion of the proceeds for this event will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Wisconsin wineries tasting success despite regulatory pressure: The List – As seen in the Milwaukee Business Journal

Wisconsin wineries tasting success despite regulatory pressure: The List – As seen in the Milwaukee Business Journal

Co-owner Jean McIlquham was quoted in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s The List: Largest Wisconsin Wineries.

While the winemaking industry is surging around the state of Wisconsin, vintners and business owners keep their eyes on a tough regulatory climate and the weather forecast as they keep their businesses afloat with the strength of family ties and commitment to their industry.

John Pedretti of Vernon Vineyards Ltd., Viroqua, said he finds challenges in the fact that many people are not yet familiar with cold-climate grapes.

“The flavor and chemistry of cold-climate grapes is somewhat different and is unfamiliar to locals so they do not always know what to expect in locally grown wines,” he said.

While some state winemakers count on grapes grown in other regions of the country, many are growing a large percentage or all of the grapes they use in the wines they make.

For these growers it is often a balancing act, the challenge of what works for them.

Julianne Dahlen of Villa Bellezza Winery & Vineyards in Pepin says simply, “It’s farming,” of the unpredictable climate, from early springs followed by late frosts and disease pressures from higher humidity levels.

The challenge for Steve Johnson, owner/winemaker at Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery in Kewaunee, “It is to grow enough quality grapes that will allow us to develop the quality and quantity necessary to reach the rest of the nation with signature style much like Oregon, New York and Washington have done.”

And winemaker Matthew Scott of Chateau St. Croix Winery, St. Croix Falls, also talked of the challenges that Wisconsin winters pose.

“As we learn what grapes grow well in our cold-climate environment and micro-climates, more of our locally grown wines are earning international awards.”

Besides the farming and manufacturing aspects of the winemaking world, the retail and entertainment aspects of running a winery come into play as well.

Owners of wineries on The List and those smaller wineries sprinkled around the state beckon the public to come taste their wines in tasting rooms on scenic patios and at festivals and events on their grounds.

And the frustration with state restrictions on their businesses has many industry insiders bubbling over.

“By far, the largest challenge (besides being profitable, of course) are legislative and regulatory challenges and threats,” said Alwyn Fitzgerald, owner of Fisher King Winery in Verona.

He noted that wineries in Wisconsin are subject to “very archaic, inconsistent and harming” laws that other alcohol segments in the state do not have to contend with.

Vernon Vineyards’ Pedretti concurred. State regulations that require use of distributors for wholesale selling “greatly reduce revenue to the vineyard and winery that generate the products,” he said.

Pedretti also noted that regulations requiring wineries to discontinue sales and close at 9 p.m. interfere with hosting events such as evening wedding receptions.

Many respondents for this year’s list shared similar views on the topic.

“In the past and present, the House bill — wineries cannot stay open past 9 p.m. — has been tough for some (state) wineries,” said Jean McIlquham of Autumn Harvest Winery in Chippewa Falls.

Inequity, say winemakers, is evident in these regulations, putting a damper on aspects of their business.

“We have hour limitations compared to all other alcohol sectors in Wisconsin,” said Rob Lewis of Lewis Station Winery in Lake Mills. “Other alcohol industries have later hours.”

And getting more specific about an organization that she sees as putting up roadblocks to business is Gail Nordlof of Northleaf Winery in Milton.

“State laws and the Wisconsin Tavern League — we are constantly fighting for less regulation, and the Tavern League is always trying to limit our sales,” she said.

Fisher King’s Fitzgerald concluded that the growing wine industry in Wisconsin is one that generates more than $50 million in annual direct tourism revenue and an additional $100 million in tax revenue, wages and industrial purchases per year.

“We are nonetheless the target of large and politically influential special interests who seek to keep our independent craft beverage industry suppressed while increasing their own monopoly on the alcohol beverage marketplace,” said Fitzgerald.

Summer Wine Pairings As Seen On WEAU

Summer Wine Pairings As Seen On WEAU

Owner of Autumn Harvest Winery, Jean McIlquham, joined WEAU‘s Grill Week in honor of National Wine Day! She shared her simple wine paring tips for summer’s classic grilling favorites. McIlquham challenged WEAU to their wine pairing skills and apparently, they know their wine! Some of the key tips she shared were chicken goes great with a dry white wine, steak pairs with a dry red wine and shrimp pairs perfect with a sweet wine. As far as grilled desserts, grilled pineapple is a summer must and goes perfect with a sweet white wine.