A Guide to Wine Tasting in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has award-winning wineries, vineyard lodging, food service to complement the wines, vineyard weddings, and produce organic wines. It’s becoming a thriving industry, with over 80 vineyards and wineries spread across the state.

The region is harsh and has frigid winters and humid summers. Thus, the grapes grown here are hardy and robust. Likely, you’ll not find Cabernet, Pinot Noir, or other typical wine grapes because of the state’s cold and humid climate.

In 1847, Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian nobleman, planted the first wine grapes in Wisconsin. The original winery where Haraszthy planted the first wine grape is still there, near Lake Wisconsin, producing cold-hardy hybrids like St. Peopin, Seyval, Frontenac, and Marechal Foch.

Some wineries produce quality Riesling, La Crescent, and St. Croix. Several wineries have settled near the Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Green Bay metropolitan areas, making an afternoon or day of sipping wine a 20-to-30-minute drive.

Let’s look at some of the best vineyards and wineries to get you off on your journey of wine tasting in Wisconsin!

Where To Go For Wine Tasting in Wisconsin

1. Wollersheim Winery and Distillery

Tucked away on a beautiful hillside close to the Wisconsin River rests the stately Wollersheim Winery, an estate abundant with history. Find out where Agoston Haraszthy discovered the land in 1840 and subsequently planted the first wine grapes in the state. The property continued to be a winery until 1899, when the owners converted it into a conventional farm.

grapes wisconsin vineyard

In 1972, Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim bought the estate and restored it to a working winery. The winery grew into a thriving business, producing some of the best wines in Wisconsin.

Today, you’ll find the tasting room warm and cozy and open every day from 12 PM to 5 PM.

They have different taste guides to satisfy any palate and curiosity, serving three distinct wines: Ice Wine, Domaine du Sac, White Riesling, Prairie Sunburst, and more. The winery boasts many awards, from Gold Medal to Best of Class.

The Prairie Sunburst is a fine example of winning many awards. It’s a delicate red packed with berry flavors from estate and Wisconsin-grown Foch grapes, reminiscent of a raspberry. Domaine Reserve is a surprising dry red wine from estate-grown Foch, and Leon Millot has won notable awards.

The distillery creates legendary spirits like brandy, all handcrafted with onsite fermenting. For delectable cuisine, the Bistro offers seasonal and local fare paired with locally made wine, open daily from 12 PM to 4:30 PM.

2. Von Stiehl Winery

As the oldest licensed winery in Wisconsin, Von Stiehl Winery has produced high-quality wine since 1967 from Door County and Kewaunee County orchards and selected vineyards from the west coast.

The winery boasts 40 wines, and you can savor them in their picturesque 150-year-old tasting room. Here, you’ll have magnificent views of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Pre-selected wines await you, costing $6.00 per person, eight samples of wine, and ciders.

Seated tastings cost more, $20.00 per person, and six samples of different wines with food pairings. As you treat your palate, the dedicated staff explains the winery’s history. You’ll even hear some spooky stories about the estate.

Crimson Royale is a sweet Concord wine that won two Gold Medals as a popular choice. Naughty Girl teases your palate as a full-bodied red, and the exhilaration of fresh raspberries, layering dark fruit and smooth tannins finishes exceptionally well.

Open year-round, stop by and enjoy some history and fine wine. The seated tastings are from 11 to 4 PM. Besides tasting wine, the winery offers tours and events with live concerts.

You can rent the estate for your vacation, including all the amenities for a relaxing retreat.

3. Vines and Rushes Winery

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Established in Ripon, Wisconsin, an assortment of grapes grows at Vines and Rushes Winery and raspberries, strawberries, and apples. All used for their many wines and ciders.

The winery concentrates on cold and hardy wine grapes because of the harsh winters. Marquette and La Crescent thrive in the vineyard soil.

Nestled on the Prellwitz family farm, the winemaking facility and tasting room encourage visitors to try their wines, guaranteeing Wisconsin-grown wine with each sip you take. Hence, their wines express the farming, climate, soil, and winemaking practices.

Enjoy the 2019 Marquette Rose, a standout wine with a sweet palate that lingers in a quaint and cozy atmosphere.

The winery offers brick oven pizza and fun events throughout the year to savor the wine, with the tasting room open daily from 12 to 5 PM and until 9 PM on weekends. Try their reds, whites and ciders, many with a sweet and lovely taste.

The winery hosts events throughout the year, so stop by and enjoy the hospitality. Take part in yoga, cooking classes, and weekly live music.

4. Baraboo Bluff Winery

red white wine spill

A young winery, Baraboo Bluff Winery has a world-class reputation, situated high on the northwest Baraboo.

The winery’s 2019 Sangiovese, California grapes, won the double gold at the Finger Lakes International Competition, proving their drive to produce phenomenal wines. Another winner is the Cabernet Sauvignon, a Gold Medal with grapes from Washington, called Color Me Cab.

Suppose you want to sip an authentic Wisconsin wine. The Nouveau, a dry red made from Foch grapes, is an excellent choice. Gradually tart with notes of young berries. Some warm it up with mulling, orange spices, and cinnamon.

Fred and Jill Quandt own the winery, and Fred is the winemaker. His passion for remarkable rich blends commands superior wine selections. A true family affair, Casey, their son, manages the operations and tasting room, working toward the highest customer service standards.

Open year-round, with a limited schedule during the off-season, stop by and try some of their delicious wines. For $5.00, you can choose a dry or sweet flight, equaling five samples to tease your palate.

5. Elmaro Vineyard

It’s no wonder Elmaro Vineyard was Wisconsin’s Winery of the Year in 2016. It’s a delightful place for wine tasting thanks to their hospitality, breathtaking surroundings, and incredible wines.

You can relax with a bottle or glass indoors or go outside on the patio.

The winery also provides a Picnic Package for those sunny days on the vineyard. Spend a heavenly afternoon with a sun umbrella and blanket at your private picnic spot.

Pour a glass from your favorite bottle, sipping wine with a picnic basket filled with yummy treats like cheese, baguette, fresh fruit, nuts, and sausages.

Try the 2018 Frontenac Gris as one of their highlighted wines. The sweet dessert wine offers notes of apricot and honey, with a refreshing finish. Or consider the Red Tail Reserve, a rich, full-bodied red with lingering notes of vanilla and plum.

The vineyard rents out for private events like weddings, corporate parties, and birthday parties. Or attend one of their events, ranging from outdoor movie nights to yoga in the vineyard.

The tasting room welcomes you May through October, Tuesdays through Sundays, starting at noon.

6. Villa Bellezza Winery

elegant man pouring red wine

Some call Villa Bellezza Winery the best winery in Wisconsin, thanks to its stunning Italian-style estate with delicious food and remarkable wines. Of course, the winery captured 2021 Wisconsin Bride Magazine Best of Awards for the Best Wisconsin Destination Venue and Best Winery Venue.

The proud owners, Derick and Julianne Dahlen, created an escape for visitors, staff, and themselves. The Old World winery and vineyard experience is a small Italian village with a restaurant, piazza, and tasting room.

In the center of the piazza is a water fountain with three sides of the piazza, protecting you from the rain in the summer and heaters to warm you in the winter.

Derick is the head winemaker and takes pride in leading his talented wine blending team. They work with many red and white grapes hybrids, including Marquette, Frontenac, La Crescent, and Brianna.

The tasting room offers a high-tech twist with screens describing each of its wines as you sip and discover your favorite wine. Try the nutty and berry 2016 Marquette, a medium-dry wine with aromas and notes of roasted hazelnut.

The spacious outdoor area allows for many activities, from tours to wine tasting to cooking classes to festive months that include Christmas Market.

7. Peiper Porch Winery

Head to the rural Vernon March of open woods and eleven breathtaking acres. You’ve arrived at Pieper Porch Winery. Its landscape offers a homely and rustic atmosphere to soothe your palate, sip wine, and relax on the spacious porch.

The winery produces an array of superb wines, embracing dry and sweet reds, whites and fruity wines. Many have won awards for their superiority so that you can enjoy their passion and commitment for each pour.

The tasting room has a delightful ambiance, welcoming you as you walk through the door, feeling like you’re an old friend. You tease your palate May through December from 11 to 5 PM. The winery encourages you to bring snacks or lunch since they don’t have food service.

Sip one of their awarding fruity wines, like the uplifting Lemon Wine, an excellent old summer favorite.

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