Mother, Daughter Make Wine at Elmaro Vineyard
Lynita Delaney and daughter Laura Roessler credit the price of Coca-Cola in Italy as one reason they started making wine together in Wisconsin. The two were pursuing their passion for curling at a competition in Italy when they discovered Coca-Cola was expensive, but wine wasn’t. As a result, says Delaney, “We enjoyed trying the wines and visiting the vineyards there.”
Inspired by Italian wineries, the family decided to use land on the Delaney’s soybean farm near Trempealeau, Wisconsin, to plant a vineyard. Now living as neighbors, they share winemaking duties at Elmaro Vineyard. “At that time, Mom and Dad were looking for a specialty crop for when they retire,” Roessler said.
Ready to start what Delaney calls their “big adventure,” the family planted the first grapevines in 2006. Elmaro Vineyard now has about 2,700 vines on eight acres which include Marquette, St. Pepin, Reliance, La Crescent, and Bluebell varietals. Now living next door to each other, they began making wine in fall 2010 and the first bottling was in March 2011. A new building for the winery and tasting room was constructed last year.
Delaney and Roessler believe the family works so well together because each member has a specialty. Delaney is a graduate of the University of California-Davis winemaking certificate program and is a master plumber; she describes herself as a jack of all trades. Her husband, Mark, is the vineyard manager and their son, Cameron, is events and tasting room manager.
With her science background (a biochemistry degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison) and enology studies at the Des Moines Area Community College, Roessler’s role is head winemaker, but her mother also does the lab work. Roessler works full-time at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as a chemistry lab manager and has a 6-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son; her husband, Todd, handles Elmaro’s marketing and runs a mobile bottling operation.
Elmaro currently makes 11 wines, and the mother-daughter team is working on new wines including a dessert white with La Crescent grapes, and a chocolate port. ‘We planned to increase production this year, but this spring we had some frost damage to the buds,” Delaney said. ‘The secondary and tertiary buds will form, but will lose productivity.” In addition to estate-grown grapes, Elmaro’s wines are made from a variety of fruits such as cranberries, black currants and grapes from Wisconsin growers, and juice from the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Elmaro produced 15,000 gallons of wine in the past year.
The scenic setting overlooking the river valley bluffs was homesteaded by Mark Delaney’s ancestors in the 1850s. An expansive white pine tree that graces the property highlights the winery’s labels; Delaney believes the tree has been there more than 150 years.
Noting that the family’s land is now in another generation’s hands, Roessler added, ‘My parents have such faith in us to make this a success. I feel lucky to be able to work with my family. You know everyone will do their job to the best of their ability. We have faith in each other.”