Wollersheim has a compelling history. The land was orginally planted with vines by Agoston Haraszthy in the 1840's. You may recall that Haraszthy would become the Father of California Viticulture by introducing more than three hundred varieties of European grapes and founding Sonoma's Buena Vista Vineyards - with Charles Krug as the winemaker. According to wikipedia, Haraszthy is also "remembered in Wisconsin as the founder of the oldest incorporated village in the state. He also operated the first commercial steamboat on the upper Mississippi River". One fact I never knew is that he died in Nicaragua while trying to develop a sugar plantation and rum distillery.
In 1972 Bob and JoAnn Wollersheim purchased the former Haraszthy Wisconsin property from the Kehl family who had possessed the land since Haraszthy sold it to Peter Kehl, his original vineyard manager. In 1899, a bitter frost destroyed the grape vines and the farm was converted to dairy and livestock. The Wollersheim's replanted grape vines immediately, soon opened the winery, and in 1985, hired the current winemaker Philippe Coquard. In the 1970's, Wollersheim experimented with viniferia varieties based on advice from Dr. Konstantin Frank and Hermann J. Wiemer - with no long term success. Today the winery has 27 acres of hybrids and native labrusca grapes - mostly Marechal Foch, as well as Leon Millot, St. Pepin & La Crosse.
|StarChefs.com: The United Grapes of America|