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A trip to the Badger State, food, family, fun and wine….

We had been gearing up for our Memorial Day weekend trip to Wisconsin through the last few weeks of May.  Being graduation season, we like many others were on our way to celebrate a college and high school graduation.  The last thing on our mind as we touched down in Minneapolis was wine. Well, let me correct that, the last thing on our mind was wineries.  We were definitely thinking about wine, we were trying to figure out where we would find a good wine in the land of bratwurst, cheese and miller beer. 

Our trip involved a 4 hour drive from Minneapolis through Duluth and on to Ashland, Wisconsin. Ashland is a beautiful lakeside town located along Route 2 halfway from Duluth, Minnesota and halfway to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, otherwise known as the U.P., which houses “Yuppers”…who I was completely unaware even existed…and I am still not quite certain what makes one a “Yupper” (other than the fact that they live in the U.P.) but I digress.

After driving 2 ½ hours north on I-35, we passed through Duluth and stopped in the town of Superior, Wisconsin to pick up some much needed libations.  Following the stop at the liquor store it was back to the highway.  As we were leaving the town of Superior, I noticed a huge sign advertising a winery.  Of course our curiosity was peaked and we decided to take a diversion to the White Winter Winery.  Located in the Town of Iron River, the White Winter Winery specializes in Mead.  We decided to try a tasting to see what mead was all about.  For those who don’t know, mead is an alcoholic drink made from honey, water and yeast. 

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The White Winter Winery creates its meads from local fruits and honey.  I was very impressed by the variety of meads that were available, but having never tried mead before I was not sure what to expect.  The flavors were very different from what you would expect from a normal wine, but they were very good.  One of our favorites was the Black Harbor which is a Black Currant Honey Wine with Grape neutral spirits added (21% ABV). It is made with black currants and honey. Well balanced with the residual sweetness of honey and toasted vanilla from French oak.  If you are interested in visiting the White Winter Winery, they are located at White Winter Winery 68323 Lea St, Iron River, WI 54847 Phone 1-800-697-2006.  You can also visit their website at http://whitewinter.com

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Wisconsin has 5 separate wine regions, the Northwoods, located in the northern part of the state.  The Driftless, which is located in the western portion of the state and borders Minnesota.  The Fox Valley and Glacial Hills regions, which border Lake Michigan and the Door County region, which is located on a peninsula that sticks out into Lake Michigan.  The state boasts some 36 different wineries, which specialize in all different types of wines. If you are headed to Wisconsin and are interested in taking a wine tour check out the Wisconsin Wine site at http://www.wiswine.org/

The rest of the weekend was a blur, two graduations, parties, food, beer and wine.  Too soon we were headed back to the airport to catch our flight home.  As I sat on the plane waiting to depart I couldn’t help but think back to the previous few days. Call me naive, but I was completely unaware that Wisconsin had any type of wine making industry.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the art of making wine is alive and well in the badger state, just as it was when I visited Fredericksburg, Texas a few months back. 

When we got back to New Jersey that night, we raided the wine cellar and sat by the fire enjoying a bottle of Forefront.  It was a great way to wind down a busy Memorial Day weekend. As I look ahead to the summer, there is not much on the horizon in the way of travel.  The last few summers I have traveled quite a bit, so in some respects I am thankful to spend time at home.  The next big trip is San Diego in September, so we’ll be planning for that over the next few months.  It’s been a while since we discussed the world of wine and food on commercial airlines.  Maybe we’ll get back to that next month, unless something more interesting comes along.  Until next time salude!!

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