NewsLocal News


Forget Napa Valley: Wisconsin 'the next frontier' for great wine, grape growers say

Posted at 5:53 AM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 06:53:19-04

FREDONIA — Napa Valley who? Wisconsin wines are on the rise.

"There's winegrowers that are out in California that are actually moving back to the Midwest because it really is an untapped potential," Nick Havlik, one of the owners of Hav Vineyards in Fredonia, said.

Wisconsin isn't generally known for its wine. It's more known for its brats and beers than its pinot or chardonnay. However, Havlik said wines grown in the Badger State are of equal quality.

"There is so much good wine that is being made," he said.

Nick owns the vineyard with his wife Andrea. They grow grapes as a cash crop. That means they send their harvest to a winery to make the wine. Sometimes it stands alone as its own drink and other times it gets mixed with other grapes. Nick said it's a hot time to be a winegrower and the demand is high.

"Over in the La Crosse area there's (sick) a half a dozen wineries up and down the Mississippi River. Obviously, the Door County areas. There's all sorts of stuff opening around Lake Winnebago. There's really pockets all over the state that we encourage people to get out there to see it," Nick said.

Different Kind of Grapes

Wisconsin might be known more for its winters than its wine. That's why the grapes Hav Vineyards grow are different from what you might see in Napa Valley.

These hybrid grapes are bred to survive cold winters.

"The hybrid grapes are bred to withstand up to 40 below zero," co-owner Andrea said.

Most of the grapes come from Upstate New York or are bred by the University of Minnesota. Since these grapes are literally a different breed than those in Napa, a different wine is produced.

"Frontenac, St. Pepin, La Crosse, La Crescent," Nick said.

They might not be household names, but Nick and Andrea said it's about time these wines have a place next to the staples of Wisconsin.

Hav Vineyards started just a few years ago, but it continues to expand every year.

"We're known for so many wonderful things we are America's Dairyland but we can also be known as the next frontier for great wines,” Andrea said.

Recent Beginnings

The Havliks started their winery just a few years ago. It started as a small operation but each year they are planting more crops that will be harvested down the road.

"This year we should be harvesting about 15 to 20 tons of grapes," Nick said.

In the next few years, it could be as much as 50 tons, though.

Fun Facts

It takes about three pounds of grapes to create one bottle of wine.

A grapevine takes about three years before it begins to produce harvest-able grapes.

Each grapevine can produce about 15 to 20 pounds of grapes when it is matured.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip