Wisconsin’s Northwoods area is one of our favorite places to visit, in fact my husband and I rarely miss a year of making the trek. Recently we discovered a place that made us feel right at home: the Winery in Three Lakes.
We’ve been wine tasting homemade strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb wine blends since we were kids, sneaking it from our mothers’ root cellars! So we knew when we’d found the real thing.
Three Lakes Winery opened in 1972 making Wisconsin’s first cranberry wine. Scott McCain, son of its builders, John and Maureen, says the Cranberry wine is still number one with customers. That, he adds, or one of the numerous blends with Cranberry they sell. John McCain developed the first recipes, and the business is still adding new blends. Today, Scott’s brother, Mark, and sister-in-law Marla, also work in the business.
The winery offers free guided tours and wine tasting samples of their products. Each bottling takes about two months from start to finish, so there’s plenty to see during the peak of the wine making season each summer. While most of the fruit used is commercially grown on the West Coast, the wild plums and some cranberries are locally grown.
First of all the fruit is fermented in large vats for about two weeks. Unlike grape wines, fruit wines do require some sugar added. Scott says about 5% sugar will bring out the rich flavor, although some of the wines, particularly those with the cranberries, are still fairly tart. Karla St. Louis, a long-time employee, says the alcohol content of the wines is around 10% and carefully monitored.
The second part of the process is to strain the fruit pulp through polyester mesh, exactly the way my mother has always done it. The liquid is still cloudy at this point though, and must sit for a period before being run through the final filter and bottled. Three Lakes Winery uses an automated bottling system.
I sampled a couple of the sixteen different wines available: cranberry and blackberry. Both were superb. However, you can attend some of the special wine tasting events yourself and sample old favorites as well as new recipes. Contact the Three Lakes Winery for annual events.
Three Lakes Winery
6971 Gogebic Street
Three Lakes, Wisconsin, USA
Phone: (715) 546-3080 · 1-800-944-5434
Fax: (715) 546-8148