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Christmas comes in July for Ice Wine Fans.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Steve and Ice Wine

I know it seems unusual to be talking about Ice wine in the middle of summer, but the vintage of 2014 has just been bottled and I am looking forward to its release.  Wine Club members already have had the chance to pre-purchase this wine and the general public will be able to purchase starting July 18. I am very proud of the release of this 2014 Ice Wine from our estate vineyard.  We here in Wisconsin are one of the very few places on earth that can produce authentic ice wine.

Authentic ice wine requires that the grapes be literally frozen on the vine before they can be harvested.  Generally you need about 3 days in a row where temperatures don't exceed 20 degrees.  The grapes are then crushed and pressed while still frozen.  The reasons for this is that the freezing process freezes the water inside and what is pressed out is just the highly concentrated essence of the grapes' sugars and acids.

We had an unusually early cold snap this past winter and we were picking these grapes early in the morning of November 21 at a temperature of 7 degrees.  After pressing the nearly 1500 pounds of frozen grapes we were left with about 600 half bottles of ice wine.

This is Wisconsin in a bottle, and I like to call it the sweet nectar of the Frozen Tundra. My impressions of it so far it expresses notes of honey, apple, and apricot. I look forward to get it into competitions and see how it stacks up against other ice wines of the world.

Cheers!

Steve

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Nicole's Introduction

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nicole

Hello! My name is Nicole and I am a new member of the Parallel 44 family! I am excited to start my new career as the office manager at the greatest winery in the area!

A little background on myself, I grew up in Green Bay, WI and the largest move I have made was to Howard, a suburb of the city. I have a wonderful boyfriend, Cody and an amazing 7 year old son, Talon. We also have 2 cockapoos, Bella and Brewer.

My past work experience is quite diversified. I have been a multi-store retail manager, I also owned an insurance agency for a few years, and now I have been drawn to the wine business. I am so excited to learn firsthand, the process of winemaking. I am also thrilled to be able to use my knowledge with office and retail management and blend it with a new passion of mine, wine! I also currently am a first year student at a local technical college and studying Human Resources. I love to learn new skills and make a difference for a locally owned business.

I am so thankful that Maria, Steve, and the rest of the Parallel's family has taken me under their wing! I hope to bring a lot of positivity and knowledge to our office and I cannot wait to learn and explore the new adventure in front of me, with a glass of wine!

I look forward to meeting all of you!

Nicole

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Wine and Summer – The Perfect Pairing

Thursday, June 11, 2015

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Although every season is a good for pairing food and wine, Summer, with it lighter food offerings seems to be perfect for pairing refreshing crisp white or rosé wines.  In summer, we tend to eat lighter and simpler -- fresh garden salads, grilled vegetables, fresh fruit, and simple cheese platters.  A crisp cool wine offers a refreshing option for these light foods.  There is nothing better than the look of condensation on an elegant wine glass, and savoring that first cool sip of wine.  Add in a comfortable patio chair, an outdoor view, and some nice music, and you'll agree that nothing could be more relaxing!

White wines tend to have a crisper finish than reds, which leaves our palates feeling more refreshed. When we eat a food, our palate is coated with the flavors of that food.   The crisp finish on a white wine washes over our palate and intermixes with the food, creating a unique food and wine pairing experience.  If a wine is too heavy, it can overpower the flavors of the food.  So for lighter foods, a lighter wine offers that perfect combination of flavor and body.

If you crave a wine with a little more fruit quality but the same crispness and food pairing quality of a white, rosés are also a nice summer option.  Rosés are once again becoming a popular wine style and the offerings are far more expansive than the once limited White Zinfandel.   Stroll the rosé section of your favorite wine retailer and you will find rosés that come from many different regions (including a nice selection of local rosés) and that are made from a wide variety of grapes.  Summer is a great time to explore your taste and try a  rosé!  Cheers!

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The Prefect Wine for Summer

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Couple by vineyard

Growing up my grandma use to say that only in Wisconsin can you have all four seasons in a week. While we didn't get a dose of all four season in one week, we did definitely experienced all fours seasons in the month of May. We had everything from cold and rainy to humid and sunny and everything in between. However, for the time being it looks like Mother Nature has finally calmed down and is going to give start giving us some nice weather just in time for the start of summer.

Which is great because summer really is my favorite time of year. Summer is when everyone wants to be out doing something with either family or friends. For me this means a lot of cookouts and gatherings with family and friends. This summer I plan on using our Wine of the Month, Glacier Fumé as my go to white wine. Glacier Fumé is a great summer wine, because it is a crisp, refreshing sweet wine that can be enjoyed by itself or with your next cookout. Personally I enjoy serving Glacier Fumé with barbecued pork, grilled chicken breasts or and sort of seafood, especially shrimp. Now is an excellent time to stock up. As an added bonus this month you will also get two FREE wine glasses when you purchase two bottles of Glacier Fume.

If you haven't tried Glacier Fumé yet I suggest that you take advantage of the next nice day and come pay a visit to the winery and try this excellent wine. While you're here, take a few minutes and enjoy a glass of wine while sitting on the patio.  I know that's where I'll be, once I figure out how to get my desktop to work out on the patio.

Cheers!

Sam

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The Backup Grape Buds Save the Day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bob and Vines

So last week Wednesday during the wee hours of the morning, our vines were going through some tough weather.  The temperature in the vineyard dropped into the mid-twenties.  While the vines themselves can take that, young tender shoots are vulnerable.  Unfortunately, our vines had started to grow out their new shoots for this season.  The frost last week did definitely kill many young buds and shoots.  Frost events are not absolute, that is a vine might lose a certain percentage of young primary shoots to frost but still have a good deal of shoots that somehow don't get killed by frost.  (Don't ask me why. I don't understand either.  You would expect if it's cold enough to kill one shoot on a vine, all the other ones would die too, but they don't.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that it is not so absolute!) Some vines fared better than others, and we will see a drop in how many grapes we get this year from some parts of the vineyard.

That's the bad news.  The good news is that grapes, unlike cherry or apple trees have backups.  If a cherry tree is hit with a late spring frost, and all of the blossoms are killed by frost, its game over for that season - no cherries until next year.  If some of a grapevine's shoots are killed by a frost, the vine has two more buds right next to the dead shoot ready to go.  Those backup buds are like a baseball player on the bench ready to fill in should a starting player go down with an injury.  Just as in baseball, the backups aren't as good as the starter is typically.  Backup grape buds tend to have fewer and smaller flower clusters, and therefore yield less fruit.  That said, having a lesser backup is much better than having no backup!

The vines aren't the only ones with a plan for when the worst happens.  I too have employed strategy in anticipation of frost events.  When doing dormant pruning in winter I leave extra shoots and therefore buds on the vines.  In seasons where we don't get a late spring frost I have to remove those shoots or there would be too much fruit for the vine to handle.  In frost seasons like this one I tie down those shoots to help replace buds that were lost to frost.  While things might have looked downright dark last Wednesday morning, things will green up, the backup buds will start to push this week, I will tie down the backup canes, and we'll be off for the season, maybe a little beat up, but there will be grapes!

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What Do Red Poppies, American Flags, Parades, and Picnics All Have in Common?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tractor

Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Customarily the last Monday in May, this day also marks the unofficial start of summer picnics and barbeques for many.

Memorial Day grew out of Decoration Day observances, which began after the Civil War. In those days, families gathered from far and wide at the end of May to visit cemeteries where lost soldiers had been laid to rest. They cleaned tombstones and "decorated" with planted flowers. Veterans' graves received special decoration with the placement of small American flags. After the somber visits, more joyful picnics and cookouts followed back at home. The symbolic tradition continues on today.

How do you typically spend your Memorial Day? Mine is usually spent with family and friends. We take an annual trip up to Jacksonport, Door County for Maifest. Among the parade, music, food, run, art fair, and activities, we make the trip to attend the horse pull, a hobby that extends many generations in my family.  The weekend is filled with Red Remembrance Poppies, American Flags, and a visit to my church's cemetery to watch the vets give their gun salute to the fallen soldiers. The scent of brats and burgers on the grill certainly cannot be missed.

Of course, we can't forget the wine. Parallel 44 wines are essential for all of your summer cookouts, parties, picnics, and more. Here's my list of the top 5 wines that are delicious and pair perfectly with the brats and burgers frying on the grill this weekend.

  1. Vin Du Nord- semi-sweet wine with a sweet cherry flavor, offers the fruit forward expression of a white wine and the nuanced complexity of a red
  2. Nouveau Rouge- semi-sweet red with notes of raspberry and strawberries that give way to a black cherry finish, flavor is slightly drier at room temperature and fruitier when chilled
  3. Frozen Tundra Original- sweet and tart expressions of bright cherry
  4. Frozen Tundra Red- semi-sweet red, begins with a cherry aroma and finishes with flavors of blackberry, currant, and plum
  5. Red Door- easy drinking dry red with earthy undertones, flavors of black cherries, and a smooth finish

Stop in this weekend to try these wines plus many more! We would love to be a part of your Memorial Day festivities.

Cheers!

-Taylor

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The Vines are Springing into Action

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wine & Buds

Last night was a worrisome night for me as we got precipitously close to frost damage. I checked the temperature at the vineyard every 15 minutes from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. It reached a low of 36.5 F at 5:40 a.m.  Until the vines were greeted by the rays of early morning sun light and the temperatures began to creep out of the danger zone.

Most visitors to our vineyard and winery are surprised to hear me say that I worry much more about the vines in May than I do when it is 25 below zero in January and February. These vines can withstand subzero temperatures quite well, but they don't' fare well when we have frost in early to mid-May.

Swelling Bud

Now that the buds have swelled and opened, the unfurling leaves are very prone to the killing impact of frost.  While a frost will not kill the vine, it will kill the primary bud which contains the clusters of fruit for this year's vintage.  This is devastating in two ways.  One is that we would have a very minimal crop, the second, is that the labor involved through the rest of season would need to continue but with no payoff of a vintage to harvest in September.

We dodged a bullet last night and it looks like we are probably in the clear for the rest of the season. Three years ago we suffered severe frost damage in May of 2012.  As I have said before, wine growing is farming and as a farmer you have to roll with the ups and downs of season variability.

So tonight as you enjoy a glass of wine from Parallel 44 and Door 44 join me with a toast of thanksgiving that 2015 looks to be on track for a terrific vintage.

Cheers!

Steve

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Happy Mother's Day... Wait that's this Weekend?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

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Originally my blog post for this week was going to be about spring and how the vines aren't the only ones enjoying this beautiful late spring. However, this morning as I was headed into work I heard an ad on the radio talking about Mother's Day and it hit me Mother's Day is this weekend. My previous idea was tossed out the window and this blog post has taken its place.

So what are you doing for Mother's Day? Are you taking mom out to lunch? Spending the day visiting her? Or if you're a mom are you sleeping in while the children make you breakfast in bed? There are so many different ways to celebrate mom and everything she's done for you over the years.

Hopefully you aren't like me and spend the week before Mother's Day scrambling to find something awesome for mom that shows just how much she means to you. This year, the first in many, is the first year I'm not scrambling to figure out what I'm going to be doing for my mom. But if you are struggling to find something for mom a bottle or 2 or 12 of her favorite wine would be a great idea or a year membership to our Wine Club, Club 44 always makes a great gift.

If you want to spend the day with mom, I would defiantly suggest a visit to Parallel 44 be added to your list of places to stop. Enjoy a wine tasting, a special Mother's Day wine and cheese pairing. While you visit you can also enjoy the wonderful weather while sipping a glass wine out on our patio and on Saturday take a complementary tour of our vineyard and winery to learn how her favorite wine goes from the vine to her glass.

However you decide to spend Mother's just remember that in the end it really doesn't matter what you end up doing on Mother's Day, as long as she gets to spend it with you she'll consider it to be a great day!

Cheers!

Sam

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The Wine that has Seen It All!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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Nouveau Rouge is one of the few original wines that Parallel 44 still produces.  Thinking about Nouveau Rouge makes me feel nostalgic… I look back at the early years of 2007 when Parallel 44 first opened its tasting room doors.  Back then, I was one the primary people behind the tasting bar and so I had the great pleasure of meeting so many of our original customers.

After all the work and sometimes self- doubt about our decision to plant a vineyard and open a winery in Northeast Wisconsin, meeting so many of our amazing customers, and having them enjoy our wines, made it seem all worthwhile!

Nouveau Rouge with its sweet light fruity flavors became a quick favorite of many customers.  It was a pleasure talking to customers about this easy drinking wine. At one point, we considered removing Nouveau Rouge from our lineup.  This wine had so much customer support we decided it needed to be a Parallel 44 staple.

Since those early days, we have produced many new wines, however, Nouveau Rouge remains a favorite.  If you haven't tried it yet, I would encourage you to do so.  It is a wine that can be served at room temperature or chilled depending on your mood.  It can be enjoyed on its own, or is a red that can be served with lighter dishes such as chicken, seafood, green salads or pasta with white sauces.  Cheers!

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How will the world learn of and become fans of cold climate wines?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Steve

Even though wine may be growing in its popularity worldwide, and especially in the United States, it is also one of the most difficult products to market.  This is a highly opinionated topic for those of us in this industry.  I invite others opinions to this debate and here are some of what I have learned over the last eight years.

As I discussed in last week's blog, our stated goal has gone from producing "Wisconsin wine from ground to glass" to "We are committed to growing and producing world class wines that just happen to come from Wisconsin".  This may seem rather trivial way of saying the same thing, but I firmly believe in the mindset of the customer we are saying something dramatically different.  This evolution of thought comes about from my experience and is now being confirmed by studies of tasting room customers and wine drinkers from the Midwest and across the nation.

This shift in mindset is an acknowledgment of frustration with myself, the industry, and the closed mindedness of many in the wine drinking establishment.  As for myself and the industry, we have been too caught up in the technical explanation or sometimes excuses for the wines being produced from this part of the world.  While I believe it is exciting to talk about how these varietals are, in essence, brand new to the world of wine, many wine customers heads start to spin when we talk about the nuances of varietals like St. Pepin, Frontenac Gris, and Marquette.  In other words, we talked about our varietals like California talks about their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and in the process we end up saying things like "This Lacrescent tastes like a Reisling."  First, many do not care what the varietal is and just want an excellent wine, but second, and more importantly, this type of statement sends a subliminal message that cold climate varietals are like "junior" wines or "wanna be" wines to California wines.  This just is not true, as many of the wines from this part of the world are winning national competitions where they outscore the vinifera varieties from well-established wine regions.

The second criticism of ourselves and the industry is that we need to get even better at what we do.  As I noted in my blog last week, many in the Midwest wine industry have relied on the popularity of wine tourism to start their wineries and have relied on this growing novelty as their strategy to success.  This however is misplaced, as I strongly believe there is too much poor quality wine being produced in our state.  We just can't rely on tourism to drive our business if we are not committed to excellence, quality, and a focus on a wine style or brand that drives national interest in our product.

As for the wine drinking establishment, my frustration lies in often an elitist mindset of some that the only good wine is Cabernet, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir.  Some of it is due to lack of knowledge, but some is due to an attitude that has more to do with their own image or pride in being a "wine snob".  Once quality is established, there is no reason why more of our restaurants should not be highlighting these wines on their wine list, especially those restaurants priding themselves on locally produced ingredients for their entrees.

Obviously, I and hopefully many of you will have more to say on these topics.  This is only a brief overview of issues that will determine the fate of the wine industry in this part of the world.

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N2185 Sleepy Hollow Rd.
Kewaunee, WI 54216

(920) 388-4400
(888) 932-0044

(920) 388-4400     (888) 932-0044     N2185 Sleepy Hollow Road | Kewaunee, WI 54216

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