Pre-Harvest Grape Grower Visits

Pre-Harvest Grape Grower Visits

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! 

Recipe: Wiley Hard Cider Bread

I love bread, all kinds. There's just something about warm bread right out of the oven. Mmmm. Beer bread is pretty well known, and not only is it delicious, but it's pretty simple to put together.  So today at work, I wondered if our Wiley Hard Cider could be used in bread. Answer: YES. And YUM. 


This bread is amazingly easily and so good.  The melted butter used creates a crunchy crust and the inside is moist with a hint of our cider. Paired with some homemade strawberry jam...(strawberries courtesy of Prellwitz Produce)... and wallah, comfort food. And did I mention easy? Check out the recipe below.  

Wiley Hard Cider Bread
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz Wiley Hard Cider
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients. Add hard cider and mix well.  Pour melted butter just to coat bottom of pan, and grease all sides.  Pour batter into pan and pour remaining butter on top of bread.

Bake 45 minutes and check. Bake in 5 minute increments until done. Cool on rack.


Pairing Food with Wine

Pairing Food with Wine

                        By: Deb

                       By: Deb

One question I am asked many times by customers is, "how do I pair these wines with foods?" I like to think there are three different ways to help you decide:

1) Prepare your favorite food and pair with your favorite wine. Guaranteed to be good! 

2) Use a wine in your food preparation and then drink same wine with the meal. (Note: You can also enjoy the wine while you're cooking with it too!) 

3) Determine the main flavors in the food/seasonings you plan to use. For example spicy, sweet, citrusy, etc. Then identify a wine with the same characteristics. Many times it will note in the description on the back label; if not ask, or do some research prior to shopping. A good rule of thumb, if you have a bold food make sure the wine is bold as well. 

Each of us will be sharing ideas with you!



Welcome to the Vines & Rushes Winery blog.  This is owner and winemaker, Ryan Prellwitz.  We (as the Vines & Rushes Winery staff) have a lot that we'd like to share with you.  You'll see regular updates not just from me, but from the exceptional members of our staff.  We'll share some about the history of Vines & Rushes along with what the future may hold for us.

We've embarked on the adventure of making exceptional wines from Wisconsin grown products.  We're enjoying sharing the experience and results with you through our tasting room - and we're excited to extend that sharing to you through our posts here as well.  Every bottle of Vines & Rushes wine that we share with you tells a story and you're a big part of that story!

Ryan Prellwitz