Harvest is almost here! This is the most exciting, least amount of sleep, craziest time of the year for Wisconsin vineyards and wineries!
At Vines & Rushes Winery, we only grow roughly five acres of grapes which is about 30% of our total grape need onsite. The rest of our grapes come from our awesome grape growers around Wisconsin. We work closely with our growers year-round to monitor the progress of the grapes. On Wednesday, August 19 we toured a few vineyards in Southwest Wisconsin to see how the grapes are coming along.
Our first stop was to Jack and Julianne Carlson in Stitzer. They have about two acres of grapes at Sunny Hill Vineyard. Jack and Julianne were amazing hosts, giving us a thorough tour of the beautiful vineyard as well as having homemade lunch and warm coffee for us to enjoy. Some of the varieties of grapes we get from them are Frontenac Gris, Frontenac, LaCrescent and Marquette.
Our second stop was Loren Cade's VERY remote vineyard about 400 feet above the valley floor in Viroqua. We hopped onto his ATV and climbed the three-quarters of a mile path up the valley. Boy, was it worth the trip! Loren has a little over two acres of grapes overlooking the valley. It was a rainy day and you could see the fog throughout the valley. Loren was part of the initial Vernon County group that began growing grapes when there wasn't a market for their tobacco crop anymore. Many farmers planted grapes where their tobacco was, however Loren's tobacco was at the bottom of the valley, where grapes wouldn't grow so well, so he decided on the top of the valley instead. Loren has a variety of grapes ranging from Prairie Star to Edelweiss, Bluebells to Petite Jewel. Grapes that we will get from Loren are: Prairie Star, St Pepin and LaCrosse.
Our final stop of the day was to Bob Starks' vineyard in Viroqua. Bob has about 15 acres of grapes total including the varieties St Pepin, Petite Pearl, LaCrescent, LaCrosse and Frontenac, and more! He too planted grapes to replace his tobacco crop. Bob has quite the sense of humor and made the rainy, windy vineyard tour one to remember. His vineyard is on top of rolling hills overlooking the valley. As we were leaving, a storm was rolling in over the valley- such a cool view! In a couple of weeks we will be getting St Pepin grapes from Bob.
We had such a wonderful trip visiting some of our growers, and loved spending time with them and learning more about their history and grape growing philosophies. We are looking forward to seeing all of our amazing growers within the next month or so!
If you're interested in watching grape harvest and winemaking demonstrations, visit our winery and vineyard throughout September and early October.
Please 'like' us on facebook to stay up-to-date with demos and tours!