Wollersheim Breaks Ground on New Distillery
Wollersheim Winery made an exciting announcement on August 5th regarding adding a new distillery which will open during 2015. The 25,000-square-foot distillery will be attached to the winery’s existing wine fermentation buildings and will feature its own cellar and retail space.
Wollersheim Winemaker Philippe Coquard said the distillery’s focus will be on ‘locally-sourced, locally-grown” ingredients. Production of Wollersheim’s popular Coquard Brandy, the second batch of which came out this May, will continue at the distillery alongside other brandies, eaux de vie (colorless fruit brandies), whiskey, absinthe, and gin.
The 100%-Wisconsin Coquard Brandy has a head start as a celebration of its home state, being made of all Wisconsin-grown grapes, aged in Wisconsin oak barrels, and fully produced at Wollersheim. Similarly, the fruits for the new brandies will be grown in Wisconsin and the grains for the whiskey and gin will come from farmers located just a mile from the distillery.
The Prairie Du Sac based winery has produced some of the most successful wines made in Wisconsin and was named winery of the year in 2012 by San Diego International Wine Competition. The storied history of this winery includes Agoston Haraszthy founding the winery in the 1840’s and later becoming the ‘Father of California Wine.” Another interesting background note is a young French winemaker, Philippe Coquard visited Wollersheim on an agricultural exchange program in 1984 and is now running the winery with his wife Julie, other family members and staff.
See related story: Wollersheim Unveils 150 Year Old Wine Cave
Prairie Fume, a Seyval Blanc wine, may be Wollersheim’s best known and most awarded wine, but they have a wide variety of wines made from Wisconsin, New York and Washington State grapes. Wine continues to be the focus, but for around 25 years the thought of opening a distillery was on Philippe’s mind.
Finally in 2009 when Wisconsin laws changed, the opportunity to add production of distilled spirits became a reality. Coquard began making brandy in 2010 which had it’s debut release during April 2013 and quickly sold out. The second release of Coquard Brandy followed in May of 2014 and is currently still available in limited quantities in Wisconsin.
Wollersheim will continue making Coquard Brandy and will introduce apple brandy and an American brandy. There will be whiskey, bourbon, and gin with more spirits being added accordingly. The corn, wheat and rye used in the distillery will be from farmers within miles of Wollersheim.
The focus of the distillery is offering a product of high quality from local ingredients. ‘We want Wisconsin sourced products and we want to continue to highlight Wisconsin oak,” Coquard said. The barrels used for aging the Coquard Brandy are custom made from Wisconsin oak for Wollersheim. This brandy has a unique and truly Wisconsin spirit but is made in the same vein as French Cognac.
The expansion of Wollersheim by adding a distillery is a natural fit since their brandy is made from white wine. The anticipated opening of the distillery is Summer 2015. The distillery will be just steps away from the winery tasting room.