Happy Labor Day!
Wait a minute – what am I doing working on Labor Day?
Good thing I love my job…
The truth is, this job requires a lot of weekend and holiday work. But when you’re drinking wine and talking to vintners, can that really be described as “work”?
Technically, yes. But it sure beats the heck out of most other jobs.
And so it was that on a recent trip to hear some music, wine inevitably came into play. I wrote up the experience for The Grapevine newsletter, and thought I’d share it with you here as well…
One would not normally think of far northern Wisconsin as “wine country.”
And yet, situated on the south shore of Lake Superior in the tiny community of Bayfield (population: 627), one can take some time to go wine tasting. That’s just what I did one day in August.
Wine was not the point of the trip. Music was. I had made the summer getaway trek to Bayfield – which is much closer to Duluth, Minn., than to any large Wisconsin city – to see Canadian musician Jesse Cook at a most unusual venue known as Big Top Chautauqua.
Cook is a flamenco guitarist who includes a good deal of percussion in his songs. Think of the Gipsy Kings on steroids. Big Top Chautauqua is a circus tent perched on a ski slope where more than 50 concerts are staged each summer. It’s an amazing place, and a great reason to explore Wisconsin’s famous Northwoods.
While preparing for the trip I did some research on daytime activities in and around Bayfield. Among the options: a three-hour boat excursion to the Apostle Islands (not recommended unless you get a more personable captain than I did), a ferry ride to Madeline Island (a little touristy but only 20 minutes away), and visits to orchards and flower farms.
Bayfield Winery is part of Hauser’s Superior View Farm, which specializes in apples and makes numerous products out of its bounty – including wine.
On my visit, I tasted five of the 12 wines available.
J.D. Hauser’s Grand Reserve was the closest to traditional wine, fermented dry and aged in oak. One could easily mistake this apple wine for Chardonnay, considering many Chardonnays have a distinct apple-like flavor.
The Dry Pear was described as “subtle,” which I’d define as “almost flavorless.”
The Schneewittchen and Hauser’s Colonial apple wines had more flavor but were nothing exciting.
I’m not afraid to admit that my favorite was the Blueberry Farm House Cider, a sweet apple wine infused with blueberry flavor. I even brought a bottle home, and am saving it for the next weekend morning that I bake blueberry muffins.
As I always say, “wine country” is where you find it.