Everyone loves vacationing in Door County and at the end of our trip we all want to bring home a little piece of that special place. Could it be something with cherries? A deliciously sour variety known as Montmorency grows prolifically in Door County and is a staple in so many of the region’s tastiest products. The cherry tree is a feast for the eyes too as photographers time their vacations to coincide with the cherry blossom season when endless acres of the pale pink blooms look like cotton candy trees. Check out our aerial shots of the cherry blossoms in our special Made in Door County episode of Discover Wisconsin.
In this special episode, we stop at four Door County businesses making delectable products by incorporating the famous Door County cherry. We start at Seaquist Orchards, Wisconsin’s largest cherry producer. The Seaquists, who have been cherry growers for six generations, also own Seaquist Farm Market in Sister Bay where the best cherry pies are made and sold. This family knows all there is to know about Door County cherries and tourists come from all over the Midwest just to get a piece of their out-of-this-world cherry pie.
Next stop, Country Ovens in Forestville, home of the Cherry De-Lite product line which includes dried cherries, salsa, barbeque sauces, mustards, dressings, trail mixes—man, the list goes on! Each summer Country Ovens has a customer appreciation party – a true celebration of their cherry products. People sample the products and share remarkable stories about how Cherry De-Lite is relieving their pain from arthritis and gout. The health benefits don’t end there. Country Ovens also uses the cherry juice from the process of creating dried cherries to form a new sports recovery drink called Rapid Whey now used by numerous college and pro sports teams including the Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers.
Our third stop is Door County Candy in Sturgeon Bay. It’s an old-fashioned candy store and ice cream parlor where you can get fresh fudge, gourmet popcorn and nostalgic candy. “Everything from booger candy to the old candy cigarettes that nobody is supposed to have any more!” said one of the customers we interviewed for the show. This is a fun place whether you’re two or 92.
Our last stop? Carlsville. This little unincorporated community, which is about 10 minutes north of Sturgeon Bay, is home to Door Peninsula Winery. It’s located in a little old schoolhouse, but don’t let that fool you. It’s vast with several levels to shop. Start with the olive oils and balsamic vinegars at the main entrance and spend some time trying each and every one before deciding to purchase. Then, head over to the main attraction: wine! You’ll have a hard time choosing from an impressive selection of more than 50 varieties made on the premises. Of course, it’s the cherry wine that so many people want.
You can also tour the wine cellar and make your way to the distillery where they’re creating award-winning spirits, too. Stop in to sample the vodka, brandy, cherry bitters and cherry moonshine. Door Peninsula Winery is open year-round and features all kinds of special events to teach consumers about wine and spirits. Door Peninsula Winery is perfect for the consumer who may not know much about wine but wants a fun experience and enjoys trying new things.
Those four businesses gave us a well-rounded cherry experience. If you haven’t been to Door County in a while, you need to start planning a trip. Don’t forget to bring home a few of those special cherry wines, candies and desserts that help you re-live what promises to be a fabulous vacation. Like so many of the people we interviewed, you’re likely to make this an annual tradition and the shops you find, turn into old friends you long to visit over and over again.
Jodi Lyon is a writer/producer for Discover Wisconsin. Stream Discover Wisconsin online at discoverwisconsin.com or watch Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block.