Tis the season to enjoy sparkling wine!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Christmas, New Years, and family celebrations are the times people most frequently think of sparkling wine.  And well they should, because sparkling wines really reflect the feeling and atmosphere of joy this time of year.

Sparkling wine engages all of your sense like no other wine.  You can see the brilliant color, smell the delicate aromatics, taste the intense flavors, hear the celebratory pop of the cork and the sound of bubbles as it fills your glass, and feel the sensation of the effervescence of dancing bubbles on your palate. It brings a sense of levity and excitement to any gathering.

Now many of you know that one can no longer call sparkling wine "Champagne" unless the wine is grown in Champagne, France. However, sparkling wine is made in several parts of the world.  In Spain it is called Cava, in Germany it is called Sekt, in Italy it is called Prosecco or Frizante.  At Parallel 44 we call it Bubbler or Sparkler.

The inspiration for these two wines actually comes from Champagne, France.   While at a conference several years ago, a winemaker from Champagne overheard my discussion/complaint of our cool summers and he turned to me and said why don't  you make sparkling wines from your grapes because your summers are actually warmer than ours in Champagne.  The thing about cool summers is that the sugars in the grapes remain low and the acids very high.  High acidity and low sugars (which results in lower alcohol wine) are the critical components of quality sparkling wines. The grape varieties we grow here in Wisconsin such as Lacrescent, Frontenac Gris, and Frontenac are known for their very high acidities and bright, forward aromatics.

With our first vintage of sparkling wine, I decided that we must name the wine a name that is uniquely Wisconsin.  The decision was made to call it "Bubbler" because it seems no one else uses that term except Wisconsinites.  The second sparkling wine we made is named "Sparkler" and it is made from a Frontenac and Marechal Foch blend of grapes that make it a rose or pink sparkling wine.

These two wines, Bubbler and Sparkler, have become favorites of Maria and myself. Because we believe life is a celebration, we find that just about any day is a day to enjoy these truly unique sparkling wines from Wisconsin. We may not be Champagne, France here in Northeast Wisconsin, but in a few generations we might just someday rival their unique and world famous reputation for sparkling wines.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Cheers !


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Why Do Some Wines Give You a Headache?

Friday, December 04, 2015


This is a question that I am often asked when I am giving tours and is often heard in tasting rooms across the country.  Everyone seems to have a different answer beyond the obvious one of "You drank too much, stupid!"

I can attest that there are times when I have had several glasses though the course of an evening and felt absolutely great, and there are times when I have had one glass and felt less than great.  So the answer is obviously more complicated than the amount consumed.

Many people tell me they think it's the sulfites in wine, particularly red wines, that give them headaches.  I guess people make that correlation because 99% of all wines state on the label, "Contains sulfites".  The reality is that sulfites exist naturally on the skins of grapes and are produced through the process of fermentation.  It is virtually impossible to produce a wine that is totally sulfite free.  The problem with the red wine sulfite theory is that white wines generally have a lot more sulfites than red wines and often have more than is found in cheeses, beer, and dried fruits.

Another theory is that the tannin in red wines can give you headaches.  Tannin is an acid found in the skins and seeds of grapes that leave your palate with a sense of astringency and give wine texture and structure.  I have not seen much scientific proof that tannin is difficult for the body to metabolize.  On the positive side of this possible cause is that the red wines that we make at Parallel 44 and Door 44 from our cold climate varietals, typically have a chemistry that has often half the tannins of our California and European red wine counterparts.

The most likely culprit is the histamines that are contained in the skins of red grapes.  These can be anywhere from 20 to 200 percent more than in white wines. If you have a sensitivity to histamines you may be more prone to get a headache.  One suggestion I have heard of is to take something like Allegra or Zyrtec before drinking a glass of red wine.

If you are not sensitive to histamines, then the reason you may sometimes feel less than great is that the wine may be of poor quality.  If the wine was only five dollars for a bottle, then chances are it was mass produced and industrially processed.  These cheap wines can contain preservatives and higher levels of sulfites in order to avoid spoilage for the large volumes of wine that may sit a long time before you get to consume them.

In the end the jury is still out on this issue.  The goal is to enjoy wine in moderation and to find those wineries and wine styles that you find most pleasing to you.



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Drink Pink!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


One of the newest members of the Parallel 44 family, Drink Pink! has become a fast favorite of our customers.  The name comes from the common reference to rosé wines as "pink" wines.  Once thought of as inferior to red wines, rosés have seen a big come back in the world of wine.  They can range from dry to sweet and from simple to complex, making them a wine that offers something for everyone.  Also, rosés are perfect food pairing wines because their crisp acidity is a great balance to a variety foods.
Drink Pink! is a blend of Frontenac and Marchel Foch grapes, both cold climate varietals.  The grapes that created the initial vintage were all harvested from the Vineyards of Parallel 44.  In order to increase production, the 2014 vintage includes grapes from other vineyards that we contract with.
These grapes were picked and immediately destemmed with no pressure."Free run" juice flows from the grapes when the skins are broken. With minimal to no skin contact, free run juice is the most aromatic, flavorful juice from a grape.  Steve, our winemaker, decided to process this free run juice separate so as to celebrate its aromatic fruity qualities.  Carefully choosing a yeast that would augment the juice's fruitiness and putting it through a cool slow fermentation to preserve its fruit quality, thus Drink Pink! was created.
An aromatic, intense, full-bodied and balanced sweet rosé wine that smells and taste like strawberries, raspberries and grapefruit. Drink Pink's body and sweetness is balanced by the grapes' acidity which creates the clean, crisp finish that only grapes from a cold region, such as ours, can produce.  This wine is a perfect pair for spicy foods, such as Mexican or Asian dishes, or for creamy cheeses.  Or chill it to perfection and enjoy it on its own.



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Tuesday, August 25, 2015


That might one of the easiest or maybe best ways to describe the latest release of our Marquette wine that we call "M".  "M" is short for Marquette and is made from the Marquette grape, which was grown here on the Wisconsin Ledge overlooking the Bay of Green Bay.

The "Marquette" grapes is spelled just like the exploratory French Jesuit and missionary Pere Marquette who canoed on the Bay of Green Bay just miles from here in the late 1600s on his way to the Gulf of Mexico.  It is that type of exploratory spirit that has led us to making one of the most promising varieties of wines here in the Upper Midwest. Near the shores of the Bay of Green Bay in Kewaunee and Door County, lie the vineyards of our growers of these Marquette grapes.

Vinifera varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir would freeze to death at temperatures of 10 degrees.  But that did not prevent the wine pioneers of the last 25 years from developing a variety that can rival and surpass the quality of world class vinifera wines, while still also be able to withstand the 25 below zero temperatures that we experience here on our frozen tundra.

Many may know "M" from Door 44 and "Marquette" from Parallel 44.  Due to its popularity and their similarities all future vintages starting with the release of our 2014 vintage will be called "M". I would describe this wine as medium bodied, semi-dry wine that is full of flavor but not too heavy with oak.  It offers cherry and black currant flavors with hints of spice.

So when you say "Mmmm" as you enjoy your next glass of "M", toast the exploratory spirit of Pere Marquette and the efforts of those growing and making world class wine here on the shores of Green Bay.

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The Harvest is Coming, But First Verasion!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


Well, it's August 3 and we are only a little over a month from the beginning of harvest.  That was one of the fastest summers of my life.  It seems like summer just started.

The recent heat has caught the grapes up to speed to where they should be this time of year. They are now in that stage we call berry touch or bunch closure.  In a week, some of the clusters may already begin a stage called verasion.  That is when individual berries begin to change from a green color to a purple color, and it's a signal that the berries will begin to soften, acids will start to drop, and sugar content will begin to rise.

It's also a signal to the birds that they are beginning to taste good.   The problem with that is they will tell their friends and in a matter of days they can take away the year's vintage.  That is why in about 10 days we will be putting netting on all the red varietals which will total about five miles worth of netting.  It's a pain, but it's the only way I can sleep at night knowing there will be a crop to harvest.

Speaking of harvest, we are very grateful for all the help and support we have had from our harvesters who have helped us in the past.  With a potential 25 tons of grapes to pick this year, we will again need your wonderful assistance.  It is too early to know which days we will be picking, but if you have a desire to help, please know that the last two Saturdays of September and the first two Saturdays of October are likely to be days we will likely be picking grapes.

If you should have an interest, please contact me, Steve at and let me know you are interested.  I will gladly take you up on your offer and will help us plan for the harvest.

Here's to another 6 weeks of warm days and cool nights on the 44th parallel.



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Cheers to the Best Wine in Wisconsin

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Steve w/awards

It is with great pride that we can announce that we received the Best in Show Professional Wine Award two weeks ago at the 5th annual Wisconsin Professional Wine Competition.  This was the second year in a row that Petite Pearl won Best Wisconsin Red wine and Best Overall Wine.  We also received Best in Show for our second year in a row with our Door 44 wine Bubbler as Best Sparkling Wine.  Also receiving Best in Show designation was our Frozen Tundra Original.  Overall, all 25 wines that we entered from both Parallel 44 and Door 44 wineries received a medal.

What I find very gratifying is that we received the most medals of any winery for wines made from Wisconsin grown grapes.  The competition is focused primarily on wines made from Wisconsin grown grapes.  The judges hailed from the Midwest and were familiar with cold climate grapes.  The 187 wines in this competition were evaluated on 10 attributes in a blind taste.  A Double Gold requires a unanimous decision by the judging panel and we were awarded Double Golds for Petite Pearl, Marquette, Bubbler, La Crescent, Seyval Blanc, Frozen Tundra White, and Frozen Tundra Original.

Even though we did really well, we will not be resting on our laurels as we are on a mission to create world class wine that just happens to come from Wisconsin.  I also want to thank our growers for their excellent work because as both growers and winemakers here at Parallel 44 and Door 44 we know that world class wine is grown more than it is made.

I invite you to grab some of these bottles before these wines are gone and raise a glass with me to toast the great 2014 vintages and to hope for future great vintages!



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Jessica's Introduction

Tuesday, July 07, 2015





My name is Jessica, and I am the newest team member to be added to Parallel 44 where I will be the Hospitality and Wine Club Manager.

I grew up in a small suburb of Milwaukee named Brown Deer. After high school I headed off to the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire where I received my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. I concentrated on General Management but also received two certificates in Leadership Studies and Organizational Communication. I was also fortunate enough to study abroad in Winchester, England for a semester. Outside of living in England, I traveled to multiple countries including France and Italy. I grew so much from this experience and felt that I really got to Explore My Taste just like Maria and Steve feel about their wineries.

After graduating in May, I took a couple of weeks off to travel and recuperate before starting this newest chapter of my life. I moved to De Pere at the end of June and started working just two days after. The kindness that I've felt from not only Steve, Maria, and the Parallel 44 staff but also the community members, has made me feel more than welcome into my new work and home life. I am so excited for what's to come and the experiences I will be able to share with you!

I can't wait to meet you during your next visit to Parallel 44!



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Tasting Tip

Wednesday, July 01, 2015



Greetings from the vineyard!

Working in the vineyard has become much more pleasant lately the past couple of weeks as the vines are in full bloom.  It's not so much because the grape flowers are beautiful, they are rather simple and unspectacular blossoms, but the perfume from the flowers smells great. One doesn't even have to get up close to the flowers to smell, just strolling through the vineyard is enough to appreciate the olfactory delight that fills one's nostrils.

I'm often asked if I'm worried about bee colony collapse and the resulting drop in the bee population. My answer is generally, yes, but specifically related to grapes, no I'm not worried at all.  Bees are completely unnecessary to the pollination of grapes as grapes are pollinated by the wind.  Bees or no bees, there will be wine.

Talking about the perfume of grape flowers reminds me of a bit of tasting room etiquette that I'd like to pass along. I'm not in the tasting room all too often, but occasionally when I'm in there I'm hit with a wall of perfume or cologne. Now judicious application of perfume or cologne in many a social situation is completely acceptable and pleasant. However, when going to a wine tasting or just enjoying a bottle of wine in company, it is not recommended. Why? Because the wearing of perfume doesn't only interfere with your enjoyment of the wine, but the enjoyment of those around you as well because perfume's aromatics are - as they are intended - perceivable to you and others in the room.

Most of the enjoyment of wine comes from the smell and taste, and 75% of what humans perceive as taste is actually informed upon by the sense of smell, so it would stand to reason that cologne would greatly impact what one experiences from a glass of wine. Case in point, I was out for dinner not too long ago, and somebody handed me their glass of wine to smell because they said it seemed "off," they may or may not have been right, I couldn't tell because all I could smell after they handed me the glass was their perfume.

If you think about a typical perfume application location, the wrist, this makes perfect sense, and this is likely why they thought they had a bad glass of wine. So the next time you're going out for a wine tasting, please forgo the cologne and perfume, the wine will taste all the better!


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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.



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Nicole's Introduction

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


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!


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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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