Wine, wine, wine: Here’s a look at Kewaunee County’s three September wine festivals
KEWAUNEE COUNTY – Wine is taking center stage in Kewaunee County this fall as the three wineries within its borders, which have much to celebrate this year, host festivals on two consecutive weekends in September.
The festivals highlight varietal and blended wines made from locally grown, cold-climate grapes as well as from grapes grown elsewhere and sweeter fruit wines. Several of these wines have won awards not just in statewide but also national and international competitions in recent years.
So, here's how people can visit the wineries, taste their wines and ciders and other beverages, see how they're made, and stomp and pick a few grapes in the next few weeks.
Sept. 10: Wisconsin Wine Harvest Festival, Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery, Kewaunee
The season of wine in Kewaunee County kicks off with this annual showcase of Parallel 44's upcoming grape harvest, which in recent years has drawn nearly 1,000 guests, while also celebrating a national award for the winery.
For the festival, wine samples by flight will be available for purchase, as well as by glass or bottle. Those who want to get a look at how the grapes are grown and turned into wines can take tours led by Parallel 44 co-owner and winemaker Steve Johnson at 1, 2 and 4 p.m.
The ever-popular grape stomp contest takes place at 3 p.m. Those who wish to take part should arrive early and enter their names into a drawing; not everyone who enters will be able to stomp.
The festival also is a celebration Parallel 44 being named Winery of the Year at the 2022 International Cold Climate Wine Competition held May 6 in Rochester, Minnesota. The competition is the only one exclusively dedicated to the wines made from grapes designed to grow and thrive in the climates of the Upper Midwest, Northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada. Parallel 44 also earned a Best of Show – White for its 2021 La Crescent white varietal wine and two Best in Class awards at that event.
Food also is available at the festival from Captain Quesadilla of Green Bay, along with cheese curd samples from Krohn’s Dairy. Live music is provided by regional pop/rock cover band Gil Sans.
Parallel 44 also hosts a smaller Wine Fall Fest from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 17 with the release of a new wine, live music from Dixieland jazz band Talk of the Town and food from The Grateful Cheese food truck. It also has a satellite winery and vineyard, Door 44, in Door County just north of Sturgeon Bay.
The Wisconsin Wine Harvest Fest runs from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 10 at Parallel 44, N2185 Sleepy Hollow Road, Kewaunee. Admission is free. For more information, call 920-388-4400 or visit 44wineries.com or facebook.com/Parallel44.
Sept. 16-17: Wet Whistle Wine Fest, von Stiehl Winery, Algoma
Taking place for a 20th year, Kewaunee County's two-day fall wine festival, hosted by the first licensed winery in Wisconsin (1967), features a number of the same events as at other wine fests: wine tastings, food, live music and a grape stomp.
But, those costumes …
For whatever reason, some of the roughly 2,000 people who show up every year show up in costume every year. Many of the costumes are wine-related, such as those annually dressed as nuns in honor of von Stiehl's Naughty Girl wine, and many costumed attendees also compete in the grape stomp.
You don't have to don a costume to attend, but it definitely adds to the aura at the Algoma winery, general manager Anthony Bilwin said.
"(Costume wearing) started all on its own," Bilwin said. "There's no contest, there's never been a call for costumes. It just kinda happened organically, and it's happened every year since it started."
Bilwin said the festival, which is sponsored by Community Improvement of Algoma and raises funds for that organization, is planning a parade through downtown at 5 p.m. Sept. 16 to mark its 20th annual happening.
The Friday night of the festival also offers food for sale from the Algoma Fire Department, with funds raised going to the department.
Taking place Sept. 17, the Saturday of the festival, are the grape stomp, wine tastings and live music. Details and a schedule are being determined at press time.
Wet Whistle runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 16 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at von Stiehl Winery, 115 Navarino St., Algoma. Admission is free on Friday, $10 for ages 13 and older Saturday; ages 20 and younger must be accompanied by an adult both days. For more information, call 920-487-5208 or visit vonstiehl.com or the "von Stiehl Winery" Facebook page.
Sept. 17: Fall Harvest Festival, Cold Country Vines & Wines, Kewaunee
One might not think a festival that asks attendees to go to work would be that attractive, but plenty of people come out to Cold Country one day each September to help vineyard workers pick grapes from its vines for the winery to use.
Co-owner and winemaker Jay Stoeger said his Fall Harvest Festival is a family-friendly event in which people of all ages can and do take part, from children to seniors, even people in wheelchairs on occasion. They'll spend an hour or two picking in the vineyard between 8 a.m. to noon and be served a catered lunch, with other activities running throughout the afternoon.
"Our festival is a full day of family fun," Stoeger said. "People just love it."
So much so that the 2021 festival had the second-most people come out in its 12 years, following the high mark of 75 that came to pick in 2020 while the COVID-19 pandemic was keeping many people indoors or socially distanced.
Fall Harvest Festival runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at Cold Country Vines & Wines, E3207 Nuclear Road, Kewaunee. Admission is free. For more information, call 920-776-1328 or visit coldcountrywines.com.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
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This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Wine, wine, wine: Here's a look at Kewaunee County's three September wine festivals