July 16, 2004
Door County, Part 3 - Cherry Wine and Fish Boils, but No Cheese

When we were in Door County, we stopped at the Door Peninsula Winery that specializes in fruit wines. We spent the $1.50 to take the tour of the facilities, which wasn't the most exciting thing I've ever done, but then we got to sample the wines.

I was skeptical. I've had fruit wines before and they always reminded me of the premium select versions of Mad Dog or Night Train, better used to ward off muggers than to actually drink. I selected a dry cherry wine and sipped.

Wine. It tasted like a good California wine, but with a cherry base rather than a grape base. I sampled the Cranbernet made from Cabernet grapes and Cranberries, the Chesum Plum wine, and many many others. Some were not to my liking at all - the Hallowine tasted like drinking sweetened fall potpourri - but many were quite good. Even the port they make is good, if underaged. Put that port away for ten years and it'll be solid.

We bought bottles of the Dry Cherry Wine, the Cranbernet, and a French Columbard that was light and full of pear and lychee flavors. In the U.S. as a whole, only 3% of the wines sold are fruit wines, but in Wisconsin, 75% of the wine sold is non-grape based. After trying the wines at this schoolhouse turned winery in Door County, I understand why.

We missed one of the great Wisconsin traditions by departing on a Saturday morning and not being in the Badger state on Friday - the fish boil. Whitefish, potatoes, and onions are boiled in a cauldron of salty water. When the food is just about ready the boilmaster tosses kerosene on the coals and the heat from the flare-up causes the water to boil over the edges, dousing the flames and carrying off the fish oil that's floated to the top of the cauldron. The cauldron is then carried on two rods to the serving area where coleslaw and rye bread are added. Dessert is a Door County cherry pie. This site has a nice photo essay on the boil and a scaled-down recipe from the Viking Grill in Ephriam. (A typical boil serves dozens, so the scaling back is much appreciated).

One thing we did not see a lot of in Door County was cheese. For a long while, my mother-in-law (who was driving) didn't even see herds and herds of cows at every other farm. It became a bit of a joke, "I'm here in Wisconsin, and we haven't seen ANY cows".

We did see a lot of Land O' Lakes signs which tells me most of the milk in Eastern Wisconsin is headed to butter factories. The cheese makers must be mainly in the western and northern parts of the state.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at July 16, 2004 6:45 AM | TrackBack Print-friendly version

Sounds like a perfect Christmas gift for someone who will be able to drink alcohol again just after Christmas...

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 17, 2004 at 4:10 AM

We kept the phone number so we could order more. Perhaps a merry Xmas gift (well a second one) will be in order.

Posted by Barrett on July 18, 2004 at 2:49 AM

Or better yet, I'll trade you for some nice sparkling Vouvray!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 21, 2004 at 11:23 AM

Three Lakes Winery has the best Cranberry Wine in the world. Made in Wisconsin.

Posted by Shane McCain on April 8, 2008 at 4:34 PM
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