Oakridge Vinery, Weggy's | Wisconsin Central
Oak Ridge Vineyard and Weggy's Winery

Richland County in southwest Wisconsin has landscape that knocks your socks off. Last winter, we came across Oakridge Vineyard, the creation and home of Weggy Winery, up in the hills. Having always thought of Wisconsin as beer country, it never occurred to us one could develop a vineyard well enough here to bottle wine. Well, they're doing it here. We went back in the summer. In our winter photos, you'll get a great feel for the expanse and beauty of the country. In the summer photos, you'll fall in love with the vines and grapes.

August 4, 2006

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Richland County in southwest Wisconsin has landscape that knocks your socks off, as does neighboring Crawford County. While driving through its southern section last winter, traveling west on Hwy 60, west of Gotham and just short of Orion, we came upon Indian Creek Road. The Wisconsin River was to our south, and Indian Creek Road shot off to the north. We had a little time to kill, so we took a "get lost" turn, with no idea where we would end up.

As we approached the top of a hill we were climbing, surprise, surprise, but there's a vineyard, the
Oakridge Vineyard, Home of Weggy Winery. Having always thought of Wisconsin as beer country, it never occurred to us one could develop a vineyard well enough here to bottle wine. Well, they're doing it here, and, as we learned later, Wisconsin can lay claim to having had one world renowned grape breeder, and more on the way.

We went back this summer, and will show you the contrasts in our photography below. First the winter, then the summer.

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This is an 80 acre property with over 15 acres of maturing grape vines containing 30 different varieties. The first cold hardy grape vines were planted in 1992. There are now over 10,000 vines.

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The vineyard resides on a hilltop 1,000 ft above sea level. It lies above the Lower Wisconsin River Valley, and walking around the vineyard provides some terrific views of the countryside. You really don't want to leave.

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In this photo, you are looking southward at the Wisconsin River Valley. That distant ridge is on the south side of the river in Iowa County. Let's give you a zoom shot from this image.

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The red arrow points to the Wisconsin River.

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All these shots were taken during the winter 2005-2006. During the winter, you get a great feel for the beauty of a large swath of southern Wisconsin, because there is so little foliage.

In the summer, you fall in love with the vines and the grapes.

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Now how's that for a contrast! Let's get closer.

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And closer....

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Of course, this is the vineyard's property, these grapes belong to them, but the day was hot and the temptation great to pick a few. Unlike Adam, we refrained from biting the "apple." The beauty was sufficient.

SwensonElmer
Elmer Swenson, of Osceola, Wisconsin, over by the Mississippi River in Polk County, not far from Minneapolis-St. Paul, had a hand in this effort at Oakridge. A self-taught grape-breeder who began breeding grapes in 1943, he developed such varieties as Swenson Red, Edelweiss and St. Croix, which can deliver flavor and endure the cold Upper Midwest temperatures.

Tram tours take guests around the 80 acre Oak Ridge Vineyard every Saturday, Sunday and summer holiday. Reservations are requested. Weggy Winery is open daily and offers convenient hours. Free samplings of all wines grown and produced on the property are available including flavors from robust reds to light and fruity whites.