First day on the road. Whew. This means that I have survived prom 1a, prom 1b and prom 2 and assorted after parties. Also graduation. And making sure Kevin and the girls managed to make their flights to Luxembourg. Oh, and I managed to pry myself away from my sweet puppy.
But finally. I will be on the road and it is all wine and Little House on the Prairie all the time. Well, not the prairie today. Today, it will be the Little House in the Big Woods in Wisconsin. Do you know how many years it took me to realize that Lake Pepin was really the Mississippi River? Or more specifically like a lake with a major river running through it.
The fun part of this voyage is that there is wine along the trail. Lots of it. Like nearly 100 wineries in Wisconsin alone. WISCONSIN. And there are nearly 20 within a couple of my route.
So this leaves the Big Woods. In and a round Pepin, Wisconsin. There is a replica of Ma and Pa’s cabin at a roadside stop and then Pepin, itself. I don’t think there is much left of the old town, but I will see soon enough. Then I cross over into Minnesota where I will skip over to a couple of places never really mentioned in the books. Laura’s Uncle Peter had a farm in Zumbro Township. While staying with her Uncle, Laura’s only brother Charles Frederick died at 9 months. He is buried in a nearby.
Continue Reading »
As you may have noticed, I head out on a road trip nearly every year. Last year was the exception but only because my girlies started school the day before WBC12 began. Hm. Miss the last first day of school for daughter #1 after making a consecutive 14 previous? or skip the road trip for the year. Yeah. You know how I went on this one.
But this year, I am off again for adventures. I’ll be heading west to Penticton, BC for WBC13. This is the first Wine Bloggers’ Conference held in Canada and I am looking forward to it. The bummer? I need a passport this time. I know that this need seems self-evident for most of you, but as a gal who used to cross the border for dates in high school it seems a little crazy to me. Strangely enough, it isn’t getting into Canada that is the issue, but rather coming home and I am loathe to risk another lecture from a self-important douanière (long story).
Since I am largely taking the route that I took to Walla Walla for WBC10, I am looking forward to seeing some sights that I missed on my way out there – namely all the Little House on the Prairie historic sites. Knowing me as you do, you can’t be surprised that I want to do something so nerdy. I loved those books and know that I would have to make these stops sans ma famille. Why? Well, the girls would never put up with more than one stop. Heck, I couldn’t get them to even read the books. It breaks a mother’s heart, it does. But luckily I will indeed be on the road without them and am looking forward to stopping where I please. Oh. Did I mention that there is wine nearby at every stop. Yup. It’s true. Because of this, I have dubbed this trip: Little Wine on the Prairie.
Since Laura Ingalls Wilder never made it further west than the eastern portion of South Dakota, I’ve had to put on my thinking cap (bonnet) to come up with other plans. Here are a couple of ideas that I have thrown around:
- Sturgis, SD – the location of the big biker rally every year. I believe it is in August. Good lord, I hope it is in August.
- Yellowstone National Park – Yeah. I want to see the sites but I don’t want to camp or stay in the cabins and develop Hanta Virus (yeah, I said it). Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mud Volcano and the Mammoth Springs are tops on my list. Oh, and if I could figure out where the caldera edge for the mega volcano is, that would be swell too.
- Lake Okanogan, BC – Naturally, I will be seeing the lake as I will be staying on it. But I think an extensive search of the lake to find the Ogopogo, the lake’s native monster. Is it a plesiosaur like the Loch Ness Monster and Champie from Lake Champlain are thought to be or a basilosaurus like other cryptozoologists think? Either way. Or not. With my luck my camera will jam as I am eaten by the thing.
But first? Before I leave, I must survive high school graduation. Not mine, of course, but rather Celia’s. Cross your fingers and hope for the best both before and after graduation.
There is more to my neighbor to the north besides cheese and the Green Bay Packers. I have had several nice experiences in the Dairy State and am pleased to learn that an application has been filed for a new appellation.
Called Wisconsin Ledge, this potential AVA consists of the western most part of the Niagara Escarpment as it reappears out of Lake Michigan. The application points out the regions underlying rocks of dolomite (Lockport Dolomite) which provide minerals as well as drainage to the areas soils and are overlain with sand, loam and glacial moraines. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it exceptionally close to the geography of the Niagara Escarpment AVA in western New York State. In the case of the New York appellation, the climate is moderated by two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario) and the prevailing west wind that would blow across them. The Wisconsin Ledge has a more moderate temperature due to its proximity to Lake Michigan but the west winds would be more continental.
The new potential AVA is located in the Door Peninsula, south of the Fox River, east of Lake Winnebago and north of County Highway T (North of Milwaukee). This area is already home to at least twelve wineries including the Cedar Creek Winery in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
So three cheers to Wisconsin Ledge! It is about time that they got some wine with that cheese!
October 25, 2011
My favorite way to discover local wine is through travel. As I drive to conferences or visiting relative, I like to stop by the local winery and taste what they are producing. I love talking to the wine makers and learning about their story. Their passion for wine is always infectious. Currently, I have a problem. Getting away has increasingly become difficult due to family responsibilities (i.e., reining in teens)
My solution? Well the first option is to comb my local wine shops (which may in fact be local grocery stores). Grocery stores? Well, being a foodie type, it makes for easier menu planning. I have found myself doing this on the road as well. In part, because I eat better on the road when I am picking fruit and veg instead of eating fast food, but also because in many states, grocery stores have wine (Yes, I know you don’t New York State – get over yourselves on that matter).
I have picked up great wines in Virginia, Indiana Illinois and Nebraska at grocers or their closely associated liquor stores.
Some standouts? Bloom, a small chain that I found while visiting my 104 year old grandmother and other relatives in Virginia Beach. They have a nice wine section that has got one of the nicest selections of local wines that I have ever seen.
My nationwide? Whole Foods is a great choice. With its dedication to fresh and local ingredients, it makes sense that they would feature local wine. Given their national reach? Local wines extend to regional options extending my non-travelling reach. Lately, I have found Firelands Gewurztraminer from Isle St. George, near Sandusky, OH and from Illinois, Prairie State Winery, Lynfred and Glunz Family all in my local WF.
Surprisingly, in Chicago, I have found that smaller, ethnic groceries are full of local options as well. Maybe this is because they are being supplied by alternative distributors. I am not going to argue the point so long as I can find new and original options. In my neighborhood, I am recommending Foremost liquors which vary from neighborhood to neighborhood as to their options.
These are very pleasant surprise for a local wine lover.
My new way to get local wine? If I can’t get to the wine? I am having it brought to me.
While not all smaller wineries can and do ship, we should take advantage of those that do. How to chose? I am using results for wine competitions. An imperfect system to be sure, but one that is making it easier for a lover of local wine to extend their selections.
What are your favorite regional American wines? Let us know and maybe I will be checking them out soon!
October 10, 2011
Do you remember the Superfriends? The ones that hung out in the Hall of Justice? Well, in my world, me and mine hang out in the Hall of Fermentation.
This particular fermentation hall is at Wollersheim Winery as I continue my tour.
Enjoy!Continue Reading »
Yes, I realize that this is much later in the day than I usually post, but it has been a crazy busy week and I wanted to start this next series. Hard core wine lovers have almost always have gone to visit a winery before. But if you don’t get to travel much and don’t realize that there are wineries in your area you might not be familiar with what it is like. Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin was on my way home from the Wine Bloggers’ Conference and therefore the perfect last stop before I got home later that day. The winery at Wollersheim was established in the 1840s by Agoston Haraszathy, better known to wine lovers as the “Father of California Viticulture” and the founder of Buena Vista Vineyards. Before he made it to Napa, he stopped for several years in Wisconsin, where he established the oldest incorporated village in the state, Prairie du Sac. The winery is still in operation to this day and this is from the tour when I visited at the end of June. Enjoy.
7876 Wisconsin 188
Prairie du Sac, WI 53578
Kevin and I continued our exploration of local wines with the winery that sits on our 100 mile mark and at the very edge we discovered the Cedar Creek Winery.
In all fairness, we had a heads up on Cedar Creek. Kevin had discovered the wine while at Mars Cheese Castle. But the actual winery was new to us. The funny thing is that we love a winery’s story and we had no idea of that from his trip to the ‘Castle’. The trip to the winery… or at least the tasting room provided the rest.
The winery in Cedarburg, Wisconsin is one of a pair. Cedar Creek’s sister winery is in Prairie du Sac and is within the Lake Wisconsin AVA (and now the Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA) which I will undoubtably illustrate for you later. Because, when push comes to shove? I am a map geek, and geography major, thus meaning that I know how to make maps.
Cedarburg, Wisconsin is one of those quaint little towns that is full of artists, antique shops, cute little restaurants and “general stores” . Often they have no connection to the reasons that we consider them unique. But in the case of Cedarburg, the town was home to largest wool mill outside of Philadephia in the 1800s. In the 1890s the town began to produce electricity through a contract with the Cedarburg Light and Electric Commission. The company still exists. Now the town still contains its “quaint” antecedents while still moving into the 20th century.
This includes the winery.
The winery is owned by the same family that owns Wollersheim Winery in the Upper Mississippi Valley AVA and share a wine maker, Phillipe Coquard who has been with family since 1984 and is now part of the family having married owners Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim’s daughter Julie. Because of the cold temperatures in Wisconsin, the vitis vinifera grapes used to produce Cedarburg’s Chardonnay,C abernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Syrah are contract grown in California, Washington and New York. The vineyard in Prarie du Sac grows hybrid grape varietals, St. Pepin and Lacrosse, which are used in some of their wines.
The winery produces 16 different wines, including a non-alcoholic champagne, an oaked and non-oaked Chardonnay (which is a nice contrast of flavors), a number of fruit blends and holiday spiced wines. Additionally Beaujolais made by the winemaker’s Uncle Pierre is also available. (The Wollersheim winery carries the wine produced by Uncle Jean’s Beaujolais as well as Phillipe’s brother’s Lombardian Bonarda.
Cedar Creek Winery
N70 W6340 Bridge Rd.
Cedarburg, WI 53012
For my next installment of Lists for Locapours I am going to tell you about a Chicago restaurant that includes local wines on their list. Naturally, you would assume that this restaurant is of a lower quality.
You would be wrong.
“….By 2001, there were licensed wineries in all 50 states. All these producers have great pride in what they’re cultivating. Thus far, the results are good, with incredible potential in the years to come…..we invite you to enjoy our ongoing search for the quintessential wine produced in each of the 50 states, either from European and native North American grape varieties, or from other fruits. They may be red or white, dry or sweet. This chapter, like winemaking in North America , is a work in progress, and evolution. The search will continue as we cross borders and venture into Canada and Mexico .”
Some of the wines that are included on this list are:
1994 Lynfred Cabernet Sauvignon, from Roselle, Illinois… We have been there!
Hopkins Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Western Connecticut Highlands (VinoVerve has been there!)
Cedar Creek “Semidry” Vidal, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin (VV has been there but I forgot to post it… ugh! But I will soon)
2003 Sakonnet Vidal Blanc, Southeastern New England (from Rhode Island, and yes… we’ve been there!)
So, remember, the next time someone tells you that there are no decent local wines, and they certainly don’t pair in a fine dining environment remind them that Charlie Trotter disagrees.
Viva the Locapour, Charlie!Continue Reading »