Home Is Where the Wine Is – As seen in Volume One

Co-owner Jean McIlquham chatted with VolumeOne about wine drinking during quarantine. Read more below!

As seen in Volume One

Erica Jones’ go-to wine is rosé – especially a crisp, semi-dry rosé with hints of raspberries and melon. While some of her favorite wines are Boogaloo from Dancing Dragonfly Winery, chardonnay, or perhaps even a lighter merlot, Jones finds joy in the happy in-between of a “deliciously pink rosé.”

Jones, a culinary student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, is just one of many locals who found herself enjoying wine during the challenges of isolating in place during recent months. And Wisconsinites haven’t been alone: During the nine-week period that ended May 2, for example, wine sales rose 30% nationwide, according to Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company.
For good reason, too. Snagging a glass of wine is a perfect way to kick back and relax – something many folks are finding is more necessary than ever during a time of global chaos and uncertainty.

“As the weather warms up,” Heather Rigby, a local media consultant, said, “I look forward to having a glass on the deck and listening to the birds in the trees at the edge of the property during the evening and getting lost in thoughts or reading a book. Otherwise, I’m fond of breaking out some olives, crackers, and cheese alongside the cribbage board with my spouse while we talk about whatever comes to mind.”

Rigby said she enjoys a variety of wines, such as a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. La Crescent from River Bend in Chippewa Falls is a favorite of hers; she likes to support local wineries – whether or not there’s a pandemic.

What wines are popular among local wineries, you ask?

“Any wine you can get your hands on!” said Jean McIlquham of Autumn Harvest Winery and Orchard in Chippewa Falls. “Joking aside, we just released our new Pomegranate Zinfandel ‘Grateful Red,’ and people are loving it. It’s fruity and a little sweet and best served chilled.”

Autumn Harvest Winery and Orchard offers quite a variety of wines, according to McIlquham, including full-bodied drier reds, fruity red blends, crisp and dry whites, and everything in between.

Donna Sachs, owner of River Bend Winery & Distillery in Chippewa Falls, found the same trend when it comes to wine consumers: All wine is good wine.

“That being said, I do think the average consumer is being careful with their spending,” Sachs said, “and luxury wine brands – with bottle prices at or above $25 per bottle – are probably suffering.”

Out of all the wine brands available to consumers, most people choose their favorite brands, Sachs said.

“There probably isn’t a lot of experimenting going on,” Sachs said. “I think people are buying what they know.”

Or, as Jones says, what they love. Her best tip is to “drink what you love” – and not the kind of wine that makes you look like some kind of fancy wine connoisseur because you may find you don’t like that kind of wine.

But, that’s no reason to not try a new kind. If it’s not to your taste, you can always do what Rigby recommends: turn it into a pasta sauce, stew, or sorbet with fresh fruit.