Vines to Cellar Review
Address: 114 East Main Street Port Washington,Wisconsin 53005.
Phone Number: 262-536-4544
Tasting Hours: See Website
Region: Wisconsin Ledge AVA, Wisconsin
Reviewer: Larschelby Kidd
Review Date: 11/12/2014
Reviewer: Larschelby Kidd
I first met Jim and CJ Wirsching-Neuser when I was in the retail wine business and they were customers. Over time, we became friends and swapped many great wine stories.
Jim had been brewing beer and making small batches of wine at home for approximately 20 years. Every now and then they would bring one of their bottles to share with my partner and me. Now here’s where it gets interesting. The wines that they would share were made from various fruits and vegetables. For myself it was a real experience because I had only tasted wine made from grapes.
What I learned from those samplings was that the rules for evaluating grape wines aren’t limited to grapes. Instead, those tasting standards can be used across the board. Balance, structure, flavor, finish, it all sounds the same. Now, after knowing Jim and CJ for a few years, they approached my partner and I to evaluate a case of wines honestly with no favors, with a surprise when we finished. The wines were excellent and showed plenty of promise.
After two weeks we shared our scores. The surprise…they were opening a winery, Vines to Cellar! That was more than 5 years ago. Their winery and retail store combines both of their passions, wine making and beer making supplies for the home juice makers and the winery where they sell their creations.
The former art space, and current home to their micro-winery, is full of color and interesting décor, like the sculpted tree that is part of the entry way or the his and hers bathrooms decorated in a symbolic manner to the genders. Even Jim’s hand-made bar has an artistic touch. The winery produces a wide variety of dry, semi-dry, and sweet wines from a variety of fruits.
During my visit, I had an opportunity to taste some of the wines that I sold in my retail wine shop and compare my notes from then and now. First up, Full Moona Luna Oaked Chardonnay. The best way to describe this wine is BALANCE. The soft fruit is framed by mouthwatering acidity. I enjoyed Jim’s light-handed use of oak aging to round out this wine. This is a definite try for you Chardonnay drinkers.
Next up was the Pomegranate Zing (Pomegranate and Zinfandel). It was Thanksgiving when I debuted this wine, wanting to offer something unique to our customers. Success! Fruity, supple, light and pleasing to any palate for an all-purpose dinner wine. This wine continues to be one of my favorite discoveries. Blueberry Pinot More (Blueberry and Pinot Noir) is another example of blending fruits and grapes to entertain your palate. I thought that the Blueberry would overpower the subtle flavor of the Pinot. To my surprise, it only enhanced the fruity qualities of the Pinot. Jim’s intentions were to make a serious FUN wine to be enjoyed by all.
Last but never least was the AMCAN (Army, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy). Both Jim and CJ are military veterans. CJ is still active. They wanted to produce a signature wine to pay homage to all those who serve in our military. This bold, medium-bodied, dry Malbec doesn’t disappoint with fruit, subtle spice and smoke flavors supported by silky tannins.
I leave you with one more delight. Chocolat Frombosie Ceil (Chocolate Raspberry Port) I can only say, Did Someone Say Chocolate Covered Fruit? YUM!!!! A must purchase. Each of the wines mentioned above are still favorites of mine. Here’s the twist, the wines are made from kits. Vines to Cellar’s wines only reinforce one of my favorite wine quotes: “Don’t judge a wine by its bottle, judge it only by its TASTE”. As the season continues I look forward to discovering new favorites to add to my list.
Vine to Cellar’s passion and hospitality further adds to the beauty of the winery and is a constant reminder of why I enjoy the Wisconsin wineries. Most of the time you will be guided on your wine journey by the owners themselves. They offer tours on request and with the $5 tasting fee you get to keep the logo engraved wine glass. The staff is equally as comforting and knowledgeable about the wines and the surrounding area. Another unique offering from this micro-winery is their own trade-named process called U-Vin. Here you can make your own small batch wine and design a personalized label to commemorate that special occasion.
Jim and CJ’s commitment to living their dream is shared with others through several amateur winery associations and a show and taste night which they host at the winery. Amateur wine makers can show, taste, and share with others while learning valuable information from not only the owners but, other amateur winemakers as well. Who knows, one of Jim and CJ’s customers could be opening Wisconsin’s next winery!