By Melanie Radzicki McManus | Photo: Wollersheim Winery, Distillery & Bistro

Fall is the perfect time to do a little wine tasting — after all, this is the season when grapes are being harvested and the landscape is ablaze in color, creating a pleasing backdrop to the experience. In the greater Madison area, there are several wineries and vineyards that welcome you to stop in for a visit.

    Erin Rasmussen is the powerhouse behind the American Wine Project, located in historic Mineral Point. After studying winemaking in California’s Napa Valley and New Zealand, Rasmussen returned to her home state of Wisconsin and opened up shop. Her goal: introducing people to America’s cold-climate grapes, such as Frontenac and Brianna. Purchasing these varietals from growers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, she crafts more than 20 wines, including two that have an intriguing fizz. Stop in the bright, airy tasting room to do some sampling — Switch Theory, a red blend, is the favorite — then enjoy the beautiful perennial gardens outside.
    Named after the owners’ beloved Goldendoodle, Bailey, this New Glarus winery opened its doors in 2018. Today some 30 wines are produced here, including dry reds and whites, sweet wines with fruity flavors and several sparkling varieties. Come for a tasting on the weekend, when live music is on tap and brick-oven pizzas are on the menu. Or sign up for one of the winery’s special events (check their website for upcoming options).
    The views are always beautiful at this winery near Devil’s Lake State Park, as it’s tucked into the rugged Baraboo Bluffs. Matt and Kristin Boegner opened Balanced Rock several years ago, opting for a building with both a clean, industrial design and a red- and-white façade reminiscent of a barn — an homage to Wisconsin’s agricultural roots and the winery’s location on a former industrial park site. Stop in to sample some of the nearly two dozen wines produced here while noshing on street tacos or pork carnitas nachos. Then head outside to hit some balls on the property’s unique 250-yard driving range.
    One of the more heralded wineries in Wisconsin is Botham, located within a hilly patch of land in Barneveld. Opened in 1989, Botham produces more than a dozen wines, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Rosé and dry reds. The perennial favorite is Big Stuff Red, a semi-dry, fruit-forward wine that the owners recommend serving chilled. Come for a tasting in the property’s century-old hung barn, then enjoy your selection on the outdoor terrace. Don’t forget to check out the events schedule before you select a day to visit. Botham hosts a wealth of events throughout the season, including live music, a girlfriends’ night out and a harvest-related bash.
    This boutique winery in Waunakee handcrafts its wines from estate-grown grapes, plus those purchased from local vineyards. Visitors can build their own three- or six-glass wine flights in the beautifully-appointed tasting room, then enjoy their selections indoors or al fresco on the outdoor patio. A small-plate menu is available, offering artisan cheese boards, mixed nuts, soft pretzels and more. Try a glass of Wauna Red, a dry red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel that’s named after the winery’s hometown, then take a self-guided tour of the picturesque vineyard.
    Wollersheim is Wisconsin’s largest and most historic winery, founded in the 1840s. Its Prairie du Sac vineyard was transformed into traditional farmland by 1900, but when the Wollersheim family purchased the land in 1972, they quickly restored it to a working vineyard. Today the winery produces a long list of white, red, blush and ice wines, including fan-favorite Prairie Fumé, a semi-dry American Seyval. A distillery is part of the business, too. Plan to spend several hours here, sampling wine, spirits and cocktails, then duck into its bistro for a salad, quiche or rustic flatbread. Tours are available, as are specialty wine and spirits dinners.


By Olivia Mizelle

    With three locations, wine drinkers all over the Madison area can enjoy Eno Vino’s diverse selection of reds, whites and sparkling wines. Pair your pick with a dish off of the extensive dinner and dessert menu, with options like bruschetta, truffle fries and flatbreads. 601 Junction Rd.; 1 N Webster St., (10th floor of the AC Hotel); 2800 Sarah Ln., Waunakee;
    This brand-new wine bar opened their doors in July and boasts an extensive wine list, bourbon flights, mocktails and snacks. 4839 Lacy Rd., Suite 101, Fitchburg,
    If whites and reds on tap aren’t enough, Grape Water also has a variety of bourbons, beers and bubbles along with pizzas from Salvatore’s Tomato Pies and DIY cheese and charcuterie boards. 7466 Hubbard Ave., Middleton,
    This Cross Plains establishment is located in a former general store and post office (it dates back to 1854!). Choose a pour of wine from their 16 self-serve options or select a beer, cocktail or mocktail from their Zero Proof menu. 1909 Main St., Cross Plains,
    From a taste to a full bottle, you can choose your pour size at this self-serve Waunakee wine bar. They also have an extensive collection of bourbons, as well as NA options. Listen to live music on the inviting outdoor patio, located right along Waunakee’s main drag. 331 East Main St., Waunakee,
    This wine shop is open Monday through Saturday, and wine tastings are offered on Friday nights (limited to 25 people, by reservation only). 1 E. Main St.,
    This wine shop and wine bar allows shoppers to browse and sample a broad selection of vino in their historic building. Their Under the Table wine club is devoted to more dedicated wine connoisseurs. 2301 Atwood Ave.,
    This self-serve wine bar has been popular since its opening in 2016. Founded by two wine-loving sisters, Toot + Kate’s rotates their wine selection every four to six weeks, so customers never get bored. If it’s a nice day, sit outside on their patio. 109 S. Main St., Verona,
    This wine bar has a selection of 16 self-serve wines, as well as a wide variety of liquors and house-made cocktails at their bar. Tasty drinks and snacks like cheese boards are accompanied by weekly live music and events like tast- ings and crafty workshops. 113 N. Main St., Oregon,

This article originally ran in the September/October 2023 issue of BRAVA Magazine, a sister publication by our publisher Nei-Turner Media Group.


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