The state of Wisconsin is actually the original American home to the Hungarian born Father of the California Wine Industry, the legendary Agoston Haraszthy. Before leaving for California in the middle of the 19th century, Haraszthy was a key figure in the early settlements of Wisconsin and a very successful farmer and businessman here. Haraszthy did plant the first wine grapes in the state, but frustration with the difficult Midwest climate refocused him on making his fortune with hops and grains. Would that he could see the renewal of winegrowing interest in Wisconsin today.
Today Wisconsin is home to about a dozen wineries, most making a combination of grape and fruit wines. Despite there being an official AVA (Lake Wisconsin AVA) in the state, only a few producers actually grow their own or make wine from locally grown grapes, most opting to bring in grapes from California, Washington, and New York States. Of the locally grown grapes, hybrids dominate with varieties like Seyval, Vidal, Marechal Foch, and Leon Millot.
There are also experimental vineyard trails occurring in the north of the state near Bayfield overlooking Lake Superior. Here winters are considerably colder but the lake effect is expected to make cultivation of certain cold-climate hybrid varieties viable.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
Alive & Well here
Who is this little French hybrid chap that has become so popular in the Midwest and on the eastern seaboard?