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Wisconsin Ledge AVA!

We are wrapping up this season with an article on Northeastern Wisconsin, where there is a pending petition with the Alcohol Tobacco Trade Bureau (ATTB) to designate a new area in the state as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA). The proposed AVA is named The Wisconsin Ledge and will include most of the northeastern areas of the state including Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Washington, Sheboygan, Outagamie and Brown Counties. Consisting of almost 3,800 square miles, the area would be almost completely surrounded by water, from the Fox River and Lake Winnebago to Green Bay and along Lake Michigan. This would become only the second (and the largest) AVA to be located completely within the state of Wisconsin next to the Lake Wisconsin AVA that is only 44 square miles and is located in the south central area of the state where it overlaps the vast Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA. The larger Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA covers four states along the river valley including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

The newly proposed Wisconsin Ledge AVA is on the Niagara Cuesta part of the Niagara Escarpment that runs from the eastern side of Wisconsin to Niagara Falls. The Niagara Cuesta is a western sloping part of the Niagara Escarpment that is composed of thick limestone that runs as much as 1,850 feet deep in some areas. The limestone is derived from an ancient Midwest ocean that existed more than 400 million years ago and contains the calcified remains of the sea creatures from that time. These remains give sustenance to the grape vines of this region.

The elevated limestone plateau combines with the marine influence of the large surrounding bodies of water to create a longer growing season than in the surrounding AVAs. The long growing season allows the area to grow a number of varietals. Listed below are the varietals seen grown in the proposed Wisconsin Ledge AVA:

• Whites: LaCrosse, Saint Pepin, Swanson Red, Edelweiss, Cayuga White, Chardonnay, Delaware, Esprit, Melody, Niagara, Seyval, Traminette, Ventura, Vignoles, Catawba, Charonel, Vidal Blanc and White Riesling

• Reds: L’oin Millot, Baco Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mar’chal Foch, Concord, Cabernet Franc, Saint Croix, De Chaunac, Chambourcin, Limberger and Chancellor

Although there are currently only 15 or so wineries located within the proposed area, winemakers believe with a designated AVA that many more wineries will come into existence and flourish in the future. When you compare the neighboring state of Michigan, right across the lake, you can see a possibility of tremendous growth in the industry. Michigan already has four individual AVAs, including the Leelanau Peninsula, The Old Mission Peninsula, Fennville and Lake Michigan Shore. Within these AVAs are over 50 wineries already established and producing award winning wines.

The proposal for this new AVA has been spearheaded by Steve DeBaker, the owner of the Trout Springs Winery in Greenleaf. DeBaker started pursuing the task seven years ago and is on the verge of getting the approval as soon as December of this year.

Hope to see everyone in the off-season and again for some more WINE:30 next year! Cheers!

WINE:30 is written by Karl Bradley and Jody Wuollett. Karl and Jody are both long time residents of Door County and are employed at the Mission Grille in Sister Bay. They have both been awarded the first level of certification from the Court of the Master Sommeliers.

Weekly Wine Trivia

Jody and Karl would like to thank all of our readers this year and congratulate all of our contest winners including last week’s winner of the trivia question: One of the most famous Beaujolais Cru Villages, Moulin-á-Vent, is named for what famous landmark?

Answer: A Windmill