Wisconsin Wine Story Falls Short

Mark Ganchiff

Mark Ganchiff is the publisher of Midwest Wine Press, the leading source of news on the growing wine industry in the central United States. Mark has been a wine judge at the 2012 and 2014 INDY International Wine Competition, the 2014 Cold Climate Wine Competition, the 2013 Mid-American Wine Competition, the 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition and the 2013 Michigan Wine Competition. He also enjoys speaking at wine events including the Cold Climate Wine Conference, the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association Annual Meeting, the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference and the Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Mark's articles about regional wine have appeared in Vineyard & Winery Management, WineMaker and several regional magazines. Mark is a Level One Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. He lives in Louisville, but also has a residence in Chicago.

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10 Responses

  1. Anna Maenner says:

    Thanks Mark! People have a right to their “opinion” but generalities are unfair to the excellent award-winning wineries in Wisconsin. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  2. Joe Callow says:

    Thank you for your very well written article. It’s very beneficial to us to have an outside observer, with a real understanding of the wine industry explain our states real position. That article was beyond malicious, almost as if a person had a serious chip on their shoulder. What a shame.
    Thank you again for your support!
    Joe Callow
    Forgotten Fire Winery

  3. Mark Ganchiff says:

    Anonymous comment:
    I am pleased that I wasn’t the only one who was upset. I wonder if there is a way to see that the author of the news article sees the response. My only additional observation is that if Wisconsin folks are looking for dry CA reds, how come Wollersheim’s best wine is a semi sweet white and there’s a picture of picking a white grape for ice wine? Plus how about the white zin crazy of the past and current obsession with moscato. Oh, well.

  4. Mark Ganchiff says:

    Another thing the State Journal omitted is how the winery experience relates to Wisconsin wine. Like most of the Midwest, wine drinkers are going to Wisconsin wineries in droves. However, this does not always translate to retail sales. In Wisconsin and other Midwest states, big liquor distributors have pushed through laws that make it hard for small, local wineries to get retail shelf space. If you go to a wine store and 5% of the wine on the shelf is local, how can you expect the local wine to outsell the competition?

  5. Dean Volenberg says:

    Many of the French American hybrid grapes do produce fully mature fruit in the southern two-thirds of the state. This area of land mass typically receives more than 2300 GDD (base 50) which will ripen most all the French American hybrids. As you get into the northern zones of Wisconsin, varieties like Noiret, Aromella (NY 76) simply have a difficult time ripening, even though they are cold hardy. However, bringing a grape crop to maturity is also dependent on management. Crop load management plays a large role in producing grapes of high quality. As an example, in the far southern part of the state grape growers can typically mature a crop of Foch at 4 to 5 tons per acre, but as you travel north, grape growers typically can only mature 2 to 3 tons per acre. Grape growers in the northern parts of the state simply drop more fruit to mature high quality grapes. So what I am saying here is that for many of the French American hybrids they can easily produce high quality fruit, but grape quality is highly dependent on crop management.
    I applaud all of Wisconsin’s wineries and grape growers.

  6. Allan says:

    Most of the wineries in Wisconsin don’t want to distribute and choose to sell in house. There are many amazing wines coming from Wisconsin grown and made wines. I agree with you Mark, well said.

  7. Mark
    Thanks for your comments about wineries in Wisconsin making quality wines. I did not personally see the article you are referring to but can imagine. TSW has been making award-winning wines for the last 10 years, competing all over the US in National and International competitions. Recently we took the Best Of Class at the Grand Harvest Awards 2013 for our Babordo Vino Vecchio which was made with 100% grapes from our vineyard. Wisconsin Ledge AVA. In fact one of the judges at the competition; Bill McNabb-editor of the Piedmont Post e-mailed me to ask for 2 more bottles so he could present to a tasting panel and write up notes on including our wine as one of the the 10 Best Wines in the Nation from the competition where thousands of wines were entered from around the world. He will be publishing this article in the Piedmont Post. In June of this year, we took a Double Gold at the San Francisco Intnl. Wine Competition for our Petite Syrah. The medal for the Vecchio was particularly pleasing as the Grand Harvest Awards are based on Terrior’ which will showcase the current AVA of the Wisconsin Ledge.
    People need to understand that wineries in Wisconsin are putting the state on the map as a destination spot, to stay and visit the many diverse vineyards and winery stories the owners can tell. All are unique in their own way, and it is time that the rest of the world finds out what we already know.
    Steve J. DeBaker
    Trout Springs Winery

  8. Mark: I did not see the article but please send too me the date i would like to look it up. It said Botham was quoted in the article. He has been in a snit for a long time. I believe he is the only winery of medium size that does not belong to the WI winery association.
    The paper should be assahamed of its self. Good article well put . Any wine is to be judged by the individual taster. he is the one that is going to drink it.

    • Mark Ganchiff says:


      The State Journal story can be accessed via the link in the Midwest Wine Press story. Just click on the higlighted words at the start of the end of the first line. (Generally, when you see type that’s a different color on a website, that means a link to another story.)


  9. Mark Ganchiff says:

    Just got a press release from Colorado saying how pround they are that 5% of the wine consumed in CO is made in CO. The winesnob who wrote the State Journal story positioned the 5% market share as a negative, but it really shows how far WI wine has come.