Wednesday, February 05, 2014
What it Means to be a Wine
With the cold settling in and not seeming to want to leave,
these are the days that really make me feel like a Wine
Pioneer. Who would have thought that grapes vines could
survive these temps yet still wake up in the spring and
Recently I have been pondering this term "Wine Pioneer" more
often and do feel that it describes Steve and I well.
Although not that long ago, planting 10 acres of grapes in
Wisconsin in 2005 was a venture into the unknown. Nurturing
these grapes and making wine out of them was even rarer! Yet
our venture has proven to be the beginning of something great here
in Wisconsin. Since we started our vineyard in 2005, close to 700
more acres of grapes have been planted here in Wisconsin.
Since we opened our winery in 2007, over 70 more Wisconsin wineries
have open their doors. Also, our little part of the world
became a coveted American Viticultural Area (AVA) - now known as
the Wisconsin Ledge!
Many who ventured into this regional wine industry, lured in by
the sultriest that wine can be, have given up. They soon
found it too hard to create and promote a regional wine and moved
on to imported juice or grapes from California or other fair
weather climates. Steve and I have stuck it out and continue
to grow, create and promote Wisconsin wines. It has been a
hard road, but one worth taking. We feel we have cultivated a
culture of Wine Pioneers - those who continue to drink our wines
with pride, knowing that they too are part of something bigger than
themselves, yes, an unforged wine industry with delicious surprises
all along the way! For those of you who are reading this and
hearing about us for the first time… I invite you to taste
our Wisconsin wines and become a Wine Pioneer too!
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
So what on earth could be going on in the vineyard during a long
and drawn out cold snap? Lots! After the polar vortex
came down and brought some double digit minus temperatures, I
decided to go out into the vineyard and check the vines for damage,
specifically bud kill. Our vines should be able to deal with
the cold temps that we've had, but it's good practice to check
because if it is found that there is a high percentage of dead
buds, we can adjust our pruning to leave more buds to make up for
the dead ones. The way to check the vines for dead buds is to
take some shoot cuttings, bring them inside for 24-48 hours and
then carefully bisect the bud with a razor blade. Getting the
shoots sounds easy enough, but we have snow up to our knees in the
Let's break for a quick lesson in some grape anatomy.
Grapes possess compound buds, meaning that inside of what looks
like one bud are actually three buds, a primary, secondary, and
tertiary. Though every bud has three potential shoots in it,
a grapevine won't grow the secondary or tertiary buds unless it has
to, they are for survival - the vine's backups. So if the
primary bud dies for whatever reason, the secondary will take over,
and so on.
Back to checking the buds. It takes some practice to get
the method down because the buds are so small. But
considering that one needs to check 100 buds per grape variety to
get a good sample size (we have 8 varieties here), one gets very
adept eventually. Once you cut the bud in half, you can see
three little swirls squished together, those are the compound
buds. The biggest one in the middle is the primary, and on
each side of it are two smaller ones, the secondary and
tertiary. If the buds are alive, the swirls are bright green,
and if they are dead, they are brown or black. In my quick
check of the vineyard, the buds are surviving very well so
far. Even though the temperatures haven't been as cold as
when the vortex blew through, they have been very cold for a long
time, so I'll probably be checking the buds again in a couple of
This past Wednesday, I was actually out in the vineyard all day
doing pruning with single digit temps, snow, and wind. Not
ideal, and not the usual sort of conditions I prune in. Why
go through the pain and torture of being outside all day in
January? Because we had a special visitor at Parallel 44 that
day. The owner of the grapevine nursery where we source our
Petite Pearl vines drove out from Vermont where his nursery is to
collect vine cuttings to propagate. That is how rare and high
in demand Petite Pearl is, the nurseryman has to drive half way
across the country to get plant material! Since we have one
of the largest and oldest plantings of Petite Pearl, he has little
choice but to come here until stocks become larger. This
wasn't the first time that nursery has collected cuttings from
Parallel 44. The Petite vines that we planted this past
season were actually vines that were started with cuttings from our
vineyard the year before. So from Wisconsin to
Vermont and back to Wisconsin, our vines are well
travelled! Until my next post, stay warm.
-Bob the Vineyard Manager
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Happy 2014 everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful 2013 and best wishes to an even
better upcoming year! December is always a busy month for me with
family Christmas parties, friend get-togethers, New Year
celebrations, and more. It's a time for family, friends, and lots
of wine and food!
With the holidays behind us, this crazy cold weather and plenty
of snow definitely reminds us that winter is here for sure! But
winter also means that our largest event of the year is right
around the corner! Our 5th Annual Frozen Tundra
Wine Fest is February 22, from 12-6 pm.
It's our crazy outdoor event that celebrates our hardiness here
in Wisconsin. Our grape vines can withstand these negative
temperatures and still come back in spring to produce delicious
grapes that make our aware winning wines. So this festival is a
chance for us to prove our own hardiness!
Admission is only $12 and includes wine tasting, tours, live
bands, food, and more. You even get to keep your Parallel 44
Signature Glass! Buy advance tickets online today and
save! Bring family and friends. You don't want to miss
So don't let the cold weather get to you and join us on February
22 for some fun!
Hope to see you there!
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Season's Greetings fans of Parallel 44
and Door 44 !!!
I wish you all joy and peace for this holiday season.
I can't believe that 2014 is at our doorstep. The 2013
vintages are being prepared for bottling as you read this.
The whites and rosés are undergoing the finishing touches of heat
and cold stability and filtering. Some of the reds like Baco
Noir, Petite Pearl, and Marquette are developing their distinctive
nuances as they rest and age in oak. I believe these are the
best to date so far.
This time of year, we are busy measuring chemistries, doing
bench trials, and trying different blends to create the best
expression of the 2013 growing season for you to enjoy. As a
whole, the season was relatively cool. What that means is we
are working to showcase the bright acidities and aromatics that
were thus developed in the grapes during the growing season.
I am happy to let you know that we will be releasing two new
rosé wines, one new white, and three new reds for your
enjoyment. Within the next month, I will be announcing their
names and their expected release dates. Many of you will be
happy to know that we will be bringing back the Seyval Blanc, and
we will soon release this year's vintage of La Crescent which won
Best of Show this past summer at the International Cold Climate
Competition. If you can't wait until early February for the
next release of La Crescent, I would get some now as we are down to
our last 15 cases before the next release.
Thank you all for your loyal support of our wineries and here is
to an even better year for us all in 2014!
Steve, Winemaker & Owner
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Holiday Time is Wine Time!
The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. The
cool air sets in and our thoughts turn to food, family, and of
course, great wine! Thanksgiving is just around the corner,
and I am so excited to have family come to our house for
Thanksgiving. This is my first time cooking the Thanksgiving
turkey, and since I am not a pro with the turkey yet, I plan to wow
the family with my wine pairings.
Parallel 44 Wines, because of the regional grapes we use, are
some of the best food pairing wines available. This region's
cool nights and warm days (during the summer that is!) create
grapes that make our wines fruit-forward and food friendly.
Before the turkey even makes it to the table, I plan to start the
evening with a glass of our Glacier White or LaCrescent
wines. Glacier White is a drier white while LaCrescent is
semi-dry. Both are perfect wines to get the pallet craving
that excellent meal.
Once the turkey, stuffing, grilled vegetables, sweet potatoes
and cranberry relish are served, I plan to have Frozen Tundra
White, Frozen Tundra Original, and Rosso (or Red Door) on the
table. The three wines offer something for all kinds of wine
drinkers from sweet to dry, red to white, and all are light enough
not to overpower the turkey, but flavorful enough to balance all
the savory sides.
Once dinner has settled and dessert is served, pumpkin pie,
pecan pie or cheesecake, it is time to bring out the dessert wines,
St Pepin Late Harvest or Frontenac Dessert Wine. It will be a
great evening of food and wine!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Hello from Parallel 44's Vineyard Manager and Cellar
Assistant. While things are now in full swing in the winery,
the vineyard is winding down. The vines have been relieved of
their grapes. The vines that once looked so lush and full
have now been stripped naked of their adorning leaves by autumn's
first frost. The difference is stark. But I like
that. Now I can see the true work of the season. How
the shoots are arranged on the trellis. Where we had to tie
up a stray shoot to a wire. I can now walk the rows, assess
the season's growth unhindered by the leaves, and maybe I even
prune a few vines with my eyes, anticipating where I will make the
first cuts in a few months.
And while the vines look completely dormant and already
hibernating for the cold that awaits this winter, I know they are
still active and responding to their environment. Dormancy
for grapes isn't like a light switch that you flip on and off, but
rather like a dimmer. The vines gradually become hardier and
hardier to the cold as the temperature slowly drops in fall.
Though our Frontenac vines can take mid winter temperatures into
the -30s, if the temperature were to drop from our current
temperatures in the 40s and 30s down to -30 in the course of a few
days, the vines would be caught unprepared and likely die.
Thankfully, such drops are highly unlikely and our vines will have
their cold tolerance cranked to 11 come those unforgivingly icy
days below zero in the months to come. Hopefully my cold
tolerance will have increased by then as well so that I can once
again go out into the vineyard and start pruning the vines in
preparation for the the next season.
~Bob, Vineyard Manager & Cellar Assistant
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
The leaves are dropping, the weather is
getting colder, and winter is on its way - which also means that
the holidays will be here before we know it! Christmas
season is one of my favorite times of the year. Houses
are decked out in colored lights, and trees are adorned with
ornaments. Christmas jingles can be heard in every
store, and people are filled with the holiday spirit.
It's a time for giving, a time for family and friends,
and a time to say thanks.
But it's also a time for pulling your hair out
as your try to figure out what to buy for your family, friends,
coworkers, and other people in your life! Despite my love for
Christmas, I do not look forward to crowded malls, long lines at
the checkout, and driving from store to store to find that perfect
present. Anyone else feel the same way?
That's one reason why I look forward to our
Holiday Open House (10-5 pm, Nov 29-Dec 1 and Dec 6-8) at Parallel
44. Visit us during these weekends and get all your holiday
shopping done at one place! You can taste wine as well as sample
gourmet food from different vendors. Most importantly, you can
create your own gift baskets for all your loved ones. Individualize
each gift box with different wine, cheese, food, merchandise, and
other neat gifts. Take it from me, it's much easier than trying to
beat the crowds at the stores! There will even be music on the
Saturdays! Come join us for a great time to celebrate the
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Dear Friends of Parallel 44 and Door
After many long days, the 2013
harvest is finally in, crushed, pressed, and fermenting at the
moment. Only time will tell as to what flavors and
nuance has been provided by this season's weather. While it
started very cool and wet, the last month of the season gave
us much needed sun and warmth necessary for a good
The next two months will be spent
racking, filtering, and blending wines and conducting hundreds
of bench trials on many samples in order to vint
the best expression of this year's harvest for you to enjoy
soon and in the future. It will be difficult to outdo
the competition successes of this past year, but I can assure that
we will always be committed to growing and vinting wines that
reflect Wisconsin from our ground to your glass.
This year you can also expect to
taste at least half dozen new wines that I am working
on. Plus, this year we will have more of the nearly now
sold out Baco Noir and Petite Pearl.
So raise your glass to
toast in a great season that you will soon be able to
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Hi everyone! My name is Martie. I am the Assistant Hospitality
Manager at Door 44 Winery in Sturgeon Bay. I am not a stranger to
wines as I have been in this business for about 35 years. (No I'm
not a dinosaur!) I started studying wines in Chicago when I was 18
years old, then moved to Seattle, Washington to finish my sommelier
certification. Along the route, I earned my chef's jacket from the
CIA in New York.
My view on wines is casual and fun. My main purpose is to make
sure you find a wine you like. There is never a right or wrong
wine. It is true that with a correct pairing your wine will taste
much different and fantastic. However, that being said you have to
like the wine you are drinking. If you love whites and you are
having a steak and don't like red wine, then pick a white that is a
little drier and has some oak to it. Wine should be fun and not
Here at Door 44 we have fun while we taste. The thing that I
most love about my job is that our grapes come from Wisconsin. It's
a different process than the West coast but just as fascinating. I
have been lucky enough to be here for harvest and even help a
little as we pressed the juice from the grapes. I have to tell you
there is nothing better than to taste the juice as it is being
pressed. I'm looking forward to seeing what Steve and Maria have up
their sleeves with this year's harvest.
We have been open for about 5 months now, and it is beautiful up
here in Door County. Our wines are different from Parallel 44
with the exception of the Frozen Tundra Wines. If you haven't
stopped up yet, please take a drive and come check us out. If you
are using your GPS to find us, please remember we are on the north
side of the bridge, attached to Grandma Tommy's. I look forward to
meeting you and talking wine.
Monday, June 03, 2013
It is that time of year to give you interested wine lovers an
update on how the next vintage is shaping up in the vineyard. Many
of you have asked me how the crop looks this year. Even
though we got out to such a cool wet spring, the grapes have
developed quite nicely and we are now very close to where we should
be this time of year. The delayed spring actually reduced the
frost damage that we could not avoid last year with the incredibly
abnormal heat in March and April of 2012 that woke the vines up too
Like I have said many times before, as romantic as the wine
growing and wine making process may appear, this is really all
about farming and acknowledging that Mother Nature is the boss when
it comes to all things agriculturally based. Hence there are
going to be good years and not so good years. But that is the
way it has always been and that is the way it will always be.
As a winegrower, it is our job to finesse the best vintage from
every year and what Mother Nature provides. Thus last
year was very low in quantity but very high in quality. In
fact, Parallel 44 and now our sister winery Door 44 had the honor
of receiving three of the four Double Gold medals awarded at the
Wisconsin Wine Competition last month. We also received the
award for Best Wisconsin White Wine with our Frozen Tundra
This year appears to be average or above as to quantity, and if
remains warm and we can avoid fall frost until October, this could
be one of our very best vintages. So let's hope that the next
two months is filled with warm sunny days and cool nights.
Thank you all for your continued support of our wineries and I
invite you to communicate with me as to your curiosity about what
we are up to. Soon I will be telling you about the upcoming
harvest and how I will need your help in bringing it in this
Cheers to you all!!!