When you think of wine, what first comes to mind? You may be surprised to hear that Wisconsin is home to some of the most iconic and unique wines across the country. On top of that, who doesn’t love a good wine and cheese pairing? Wisconsinites sure do! Let’s explore the Door County region and how you can get out to taste your favorite wines and cheeses right here in Wisconsin.
The Door County Wine Trail is home to 8 different wineries right now that offers up something different at each location! Each of the wineries has a unique piece to them and provides a memorable experience that you will never forget. Many of the wineries incorporate locally grown fruits into their wine, especially grapes and cherries but some have started to try out a unique hybrid-style grape!
Wineries along the trail are Door 44 Winery, Door Peninsula Winery, Harbor Ridge Winery, Orchard Country Winery, Red Oak Winery, Simon Creek Winery, Stone’s Throw Winery, and the Von Stiehl Winery! While the Door County Wine Trail itself doesn’t offer a tour, you can pick up a map at the Destination Door County office or check it out here to get an idea of where the wineries are all located before heading out on your trip! From there, while you're traveling throughout Door County you can plan to make your stops when you want and at whatever locations you see fit.
While planning your trip along the Door County Wine Tour, two wineries that you can’t miss out on are Door Peninsula Winery and Harbor Ridge Winery. These two locations offer unique and historic visits to each place and are definitely an experience you won’t want to miss.
First up is Door Peninsula Winery which opened in 1974 and we can definitely say… They’ve grown! The winery was once a former two-room schoolhouse that was built in 1868 and closed its doors in 1962. We know you might be wondering, ‘How does a schoolhouse make for a place to make wine?’. Well, Mark Fehls and Tom Alberts actually decided upon the location due to the thick basement walls and the Victorian-era architecture that the building held.
Now the winery produces a little over 200 thousand gallons of wine each year and has become one of Wisconsin’s top producers. Door Peninsula produces over 60 different wines and ciders and you can taste these at one of their two tasting rooms to really get a bit of history!
Next, we need to talk more about Harbor Ridge Winery! This log cabin winery opened in 2010 and is nestled right in the beautiful Door County. While things have changed over the years, a key part that has stayed consistent is their top sellers! The first two wines that the winery introduced, Knockin’ Heads Red and Mademoiselle, are still some of the top sellers today.
In 2012, the winery expanded and built a facility that was dedicated to primarily making the wines they were selling which gave them the ability to expand into a selection of premium barrel-aged wines. A few years ago, new owners took over and continued to build the winery along with installing a vineyard. Harbor Ridge Winery now holds approximately 70 barrels and two stainless steel tanks for production and offers a selection of over 20 wines. There is a variety of award-winning wines and you can choose from sweet, semi-sweet, dry, or barrel-aged making this a special stop along the trail with plenty of options!
The best part about Door County and the wine trail is that it lies right along the Door County Coastal Byway. This scenic highway goes through the entire county offering beautiful and breathtaking views throughout. Along with that, there are plenty of stops to be made while venturing out to the different wineries like stopping for delicious cheeses or visiting orchards too!
Renards has become an iconic Wisconsin cheese and in Door County, you can definitely try it for yourself. Chris Renard is a third-generation cheesemaker and is well known for the neat blends of cheeses they make along with aged cheeses.
And while you’re in Door County, you have to make a stop to visit Seaquist Orchards. This multi-generational family business started back in the early 1900s by planting cherry trees! The farm now has about 1,000 acres of tart cherries and over 50 acres of apples and sweet cherries.
Another cheesy location you can’t miss on the Door County Coastal Byway is the Door Artisan Cheese. The cheese company showcases the craft of cheesemaking (right on site!) and features select cheeses from around the world. They’ve even blasted out their own cheese caves 18 feet below the surface where they now age many of their award-winning cheeses!
Discover Wisconsin host Alex Wehrley got to first-hand experience the entire Door County Wine tour on set with the team. Here’s more on her experience:
"I was truly blown away by not only the wine in Door County but also the entire wine tasting experience. I've been to Napa and Sonoma, and Door County is right up there with its peaceful and picturesque atmosphere. And at the same time, the wineries in Door County offer a unique approachable and laid back vibe that gives them the perfect Wisconsin twist."
Wine is becoming a true staple in Wisconsin but especially in Door County. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a week-long stay in Door County, you need to travel along the coastal byway and make stops along the wine trail! While visiting, don’t forget to make your way to some of the best cheese shops in Wisconsin. Now that we’ve prepared you for a fun trip in Door County, get more ideas in our newest episode, ‘Door County Wine and Cheese Tour’ here:
Kortnee Hass: Social Media Coordinator for Discover Mediaworks. A Wisconsin ‘now & forever’ transplant with a soft spot for squeaky cheese curds, craft breweries, and all things Wisconsin tourism.