Vine to Wine Experience

On a cool, overcast October day, my partner and I joined a group of other seniors to go on a tour of two noted Northeast Wisconsin wineries. Both featured tastings which we all enjoyed.

Our trip started out differently than planned due to the illness of the chef at Woodfire Lodge, who had originally planned a special meal for our group. The event announcement as originally worded read:

Chef Susan will prepare wine-inspired recipes and share the results with everyone for a delicious start to our day. We will enjoy a wonderful luncheon at the Lodge amid all the beautiful fall color.

LondonDairy Alpacas

Instead of going directly to Woodfire Lodge for lunch as planned, we visited a unique surprise destination,  LondonDairy Alpacas in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Their website informs:

LondonDairy Alpacas is a fully operational ranch involved in Agri-Tourism, raising alpacas and creating finished products.

Our LondonDairy host seated the group in a rectangular area inside a pole barn. After an introductory lesson on alpacas, he and a helper passed out upside-down frisbees which had been prefilled with pellets of food that the alpacas eat. Then a door opened and over a dozen animals rushed into the midst of the seated visitors. The alpacas went from one person to the next, gobbling up the food offered in the dishes.

Woodfire Lodge

After leaving the alpaca farm, we traveled to Woodfire Lodge, a hunting preserve and event center in the rural Brillion, Wisconsin area. We had lunch there.

Trout Springs Winery & Hatchery

Our first winery stop was the Trout Springs Winery & Hatchery near Greenleaf, Wisconsin. In addition to a vineyard, winery, retail store and tasting room, co-owners Steve and Andrea DeBaker say that their’s is “Not Your Typical Winery.” And they’re right. In addition to making wine, they have a side business raising trout which they supply to restaurants.

On their website, the DeBakers tell their story:

We turned the Fox Valley into Napa Valley (and Were Named Winery of the Year for That)

Trout Springs Winery is the birthplace of the Wisconsin Ledge. That’s a real big deal in the wine world. Long story short, we grow great grapes because our area’s temperate climate rivals that of some of the best grape-growing regions on earth. Like Napa Valley. The Federal Government officially identifies prime grape-producing locations as American Viticultural Areas (AVA).

We figured wine lovers should know about the pedigree of our grapes. So, with proof and paperwork in hand, we went to the Fed. In the winter of 2005 just after opening the doors at TSW, Steve J. DeBaker, owner and winemaker, petitioned the Federal Government to establish just under 2.5-million acres to be designated a prime grape-growing region based upon the Niagara Escarpment. After several years of numerous evaluations, more paperwork, and persistence, a petition was passed in 2012 establishing the Wisconsin Ledge, a bona fide AVA—just like Napa Valley—in the land of Lambeau, beer, and booyah.

And for that we were named the 2014 Winery of The Year by the Wisconsin Grape Growers Association.​

Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery

Our last stop was the impressive Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Our fortunate timing let us see grape crushing in progress as well as tasting five different Parallel 44 wines. Trout Springs was fun to visit, but Parallel 44 was outstanding. 

Parallel 44 also operates a sister winery, Door 44, in Door County. Both are named for their location in a prime area for growing wine grapes.

The Parallel 44 website explains:

Parallel 44 is a premier Wisconsin wine destination. Both Parallel 44 locations are situated on 44° North Latitude—which circles the globe, and is renowned as the world‘s finest grape growing and wine making regions. Visit us for a truly unique experience that you won‘t soon forget!

Located just 15 minutes east of Green Bay off of Highway 29, we invite you to visit Parallel 44 and sample our award winning wines, stroll through our 10 acre vineyard, tour our winery, relax on our patio and enjoy the beautiful view!

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