Agriculture is the central part of what we do here at the winery. That is why we do our best to preserve the land and the environment around us by treating it with respect. Here are just a few of the things we do to give back to the land that gives us so much….
The Health of Our Soil
When it comes to taking care of our soil, it’s all about the details. To preserve the terroir or the taste of the place, we use only local organic mulch from our neighboring town across the river. We put the organic material to good use and prevent it from ending up in local landfills.
The organic mulch slows evaporation, allowing the water to be available to the roots of our vines. This helps to minimize erosion and prevents the loss of topsoil, which is a major concern in agriculture today. Recently we have begun planting radishes amongst the rows of vines to help with soil compaction and erosion. After we harvest our grapes and press the fruit, all of the stems and grape skins are mixed in with our mulch and returned to the vineyard.
Putting Rain To Good Use
Taking advantage of our large roofs, we direct rainwater into an upcycled former wine fermentation tank where we can easily access it to water the gardens and flowers the winery has become so well known for.
While we use the water to grow all of our luscious green spaces, it can also be used to rid the vineyard of unwanted weeds. Using a tractor fitted with a boiling water tank, we disperse high-temperature steam through hoods low to the ground to kill the weeds, leaving the soil and vines completely unharmed. This machine allows us to decrease the number of man-made products needed to keep the vineyard healthy, thriving, and free of weeds.
Experimental Varieties and Organic Management
We have a special triangle-shaped section in the vineyard where we grow a handful of experimental grape varieties. These varieties are tested against the various elements we see here in Wisconsin, including the weather, pests, and fungus. Through these experiments we identify varieties that will require less intervention, making them better for the environment as a whole. We also replace more harmful management techniques and use organically listed compounds as often as possible.
Small Packages, Big Impacts
We made the switch to American-made bottles, which reduced the carbon footprint by 60% due to lightweight glass and the shorter distance traveled. In 2018 we changed to Wisconsin-printed paper labels, resulting in 34% fewer CO2 emissions than previous labels.
We have created canned products that you can take with you on any Wisconsin adventure! And the best part? They are better for the environment too! Not only are our cans easy to recycle, but they also weigh far less, meaning less fuel burned during transport and a lower carbon footprint.
Wisconsin Forest Management
Judging by our logo and our barrels, you can probably guess that oak trees are an important part of our identity. Much like growing an oak tree, there are no shortcuts to proper forest management and responsible barrel production. We use sustainably harvested oak from our local friends and neighbors for all our Wisconsin Oak barrels and every year we are planting oaks on our bluffs. Our barrel stave manufacturer is located right here in the Midwest and adheres to the industry’s green practices during the milling process.
Grains In, Crop Nutrients Out
When it comes to sourcing, our distillery has a hyper-focus on local ingredients and Wisconsin farmers. We use grain grown right down the road and work with a Wisconsin malt producer to keep everything as local as possible. This not only means great-tasting authentic Wisconsin spirits but also far less transportation and a lower carbon footprint.
After our mash has been distilled, we have it hauled away by a Wisconsin company that works hand-in-hand with the local DNR and Wisconsin farmers. Together they help to determine the ideal approach to improve crop production. Our spent mash is then transformed into nutrients for local farmers’ crops and applied accordingly.
Much like the Distillery, the Bistro at Wollersheim stresses local ingredients, grown right down the road by our farmer friends. Our ingredients aren’t flown in from across the country, they are dropped off by our neighbors.
The Bistro also uses premium upcycled utensils and packaging. The materials cost more than some alternatives, but they are made from recycled material and can be easily re-recycled again. It isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s better for our planet.
Electric Car Charging
If you are one of the people who has made the change to an electric vehicle, we offer free charging to both Tesla and non-Tesla EVs. Simply park, plug in, and enjoy your visit knowing you will have a charge when it is time to depart.
Along with green practices in the vineyard and cellar, we also do as much recycling as we can on our bottling line and in the winery and distillery stores.