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
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
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
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
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Cheers !
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
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
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!
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
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!
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
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!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
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
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.
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
I look forward to meeting all of you!