WGGA 2019 Influencer Wine Dinner

Last week I attended the Wisconsin Grape Growers Association’s (WGGA) first Influencer Wine Dinner held in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin at the beautiful and elegant Riverstone Restaurant.

This was the first event I’ve attended for the WGGA and the first event of it’s type. I was honored to be selected as a local Milwaukee foodie/influencer among a small group of other WI-based influencers, grape growers, and wine makers.

To kick things off, the evening started with a wonderful five course meal, each with a specially selected accompanying wine. We tasted Wisconsin Whites like Chateau St. Croix (St. Croix Falls), and reds like Mad Rebel Rose (Madison). And, I have to say, the table presentation was on point!

Dinner Table Presentation

Food at WGGA EventWines at WGGA Event











We then heard from fellow WGGA members including Adam Rabe from Dirt Road Vineyards and Steve Johnson from Parallel 44.

WGGA Speakers

Steve Johnson (left) and Adam Rabe (right)

From their talks and my side conversations, I learned that Wisconsin has its own unique wine flavors and grape varietals that can only grow in our climate (-30 degrees)!

This was all started years ago by Elmer Swenson who was born in Osceola, Wisconsin. He began to develop hybrid grapes in 1943 that could withstand the harsh Wisconsin winters. They’re also commonly referred to as “cold climate grapes”.

The vision of the WGGA is to grow and promote Wisconsin as a viable place for great wine. It’s also their hope that one day, it will become the norm to hear someone ordering a Frontenac, Louise Swenson, St. Pepin or Marechal Foch in New York or California, much like we do here in Wisconsin for Moscato and Pino Noir.

And, their effort is starting to pay off. As of June 2019, Wisconsin now has its own Wisconsin Vineyard Week (July 14-20).

Wisconsin Vineyard Week Proclamation


If you’re interested in learning more about the Wisconsin Grape Growers Association and what they’re trying to accomplish, you can visit their site here. If you take look around their site, you’ll find all kinds of great information too, like Wisconsin’s grape varieties such as Marquette and LaCresent. I know I learned a lot!

Turning it over to you – did you know about some of the grape varietals Wisconsin has to offer? If Wisconsin became known as another “wine country”, what do you think our region could/should be known for?

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