Door County Wineries

Door County is home to several wineries and we at Wine:30 felt it was nothing short of our civic duty to visit them all. We did, and wanted to report back to our readers on the best way to enjoy your visit to any one of them. The following is our “12-step program” to making the best of your winery visit.

1. Have a hearty meal before venturing out. Nothing slows down the absorption of alcohol better than food, so be sure to eat plenty of proteins, fat and complex carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar levels steady and maintain your tasting endurance.

2. Avoid wearing heavy perfume, cologne or lipstick. All of these things can affect your sense of taste and smell, often overpowering the aroma and bouquets of many wines.

3. Bring a D.D. (Designated Driver). Wisconsin has some pretty tough drunk driving laws, so bring a Designated Driver if possible. There are also Trolley Tours available that include stops at some, (but not all) of the peninsula wineries. At this time, these tours begin and end at Orchard Country Winery and you can call 920.868.1100 for more information.

4. Take the tour first, then hit the tasting room. Most wineries have scheduled tours throughout the day, (usually lasting 30 – 45 minutes), and we strongly recommend that you adjust your schedules accordingly. Touring the winery first will give you a much better idea of the production and bottling methods used, as well as detailed knowledge of the winery’s history.

5. Taste wines in order of body and sweetness. Try to be sure to taste wines beginning with the lightest to heaviest whites, then reds, and finish with the sweetest wines. A light, fruity white wine tasted after a heavy, tannic red will be completely overpowered and probably taste somewhat bitter.

6. Swirl, smell, taste and swallow. Following these basic tasting techniques will help you get the most of each sample. Be sure to take your time and enjoy the process.

7. Don’t be afraid to spit, or pour out wine. As refined as wine tasting seems to be, it is completely acceptable and proper etiquette to spit out wine, rather than swallow every taste. Also, you are not under any obligation to finish every taste you are poured, so feel free to pour out unwanted wine in the buckets all tasting rooms provide.

8. Drink plenty of water. Most tasting rooms provide water for you to cleanse your palette, so be sure to do so. Also, drinking an equal amount of water to wine will help to minimize the effects of the alcohol on your system.

9. Eat neutral food between tastes. If the winery you are visiting provides crackers or other bland, neutral foods in the tasting room, be sure to eat some between each tasting. This helps cleanse and refresh your palette.

10. Take notes. Most Wineries have paper and pencils readily available for you to note the different aspects of the wines you taste. At the very least, try to make notes on the wines you really liked, especially noting specific vintages. If you are visiting three to four wineries in the same day, you probably won’t remember details on that great chardonnay you had 20 wines ago. It can also be a lot of fun to review your notes after the tour, best done with a favorite glass in hand.

11. Ask questions and listen to the tasting room hosts. The hosts at the tasting rooms are all “people-persons” and are there to make your visit as enjoyable as possible. These people are usually very passionate about the wines they pour, and should be able to enthusiastically answer all your questions. When we visit any winery, we always ask the hosts what their favorites are and we are sure to try those wines if available.

12. If you like it, buy it at the winery. Although you are under no obligation to buy any wine during a tasting, if you do find something you like, buy it there. It is the whole reason they have the tasting room, and you can usually get the best price at the source.


• Door Peninsula Winery:  Located in Downtown Carlsville on Highway 42, 800.551.5049,

• Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery:  Located off County Road I between Jacksonport and Carlsville, 920.746.9307,

• Stone’s Throw Winery:  Located on the corner of County Road E and County Road A between Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor, 920.839.9660,

• Orchard Country Winery and Market:  Located just south of Fish Creek on Highway 42, 920.868.3479,

• Red Oak Winery:  Located in Sturgeon Bay on the west end of Third Avenue, 920.743.7729,

WINE:30 is written by Karl Bradley and Jody Wuollett. Karl is the general manager and self-proclaimed “sous” sommelier for the Mission Grille. Former restaurant executive and Door County native Jody is happily under-employed as a Mission Grille food server and a member of the local band Northbound. They are both long time residents and first time contributors to the Peninsula Pulse.

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