On May 20, 2017, our 200 year-old Burr Oak tree fell to the side and came to rest on its branches, due in part to heavy rain. The mighty oak has served as an iconic part of our property since well before the winery opened 45 years ago. We decided we’d do what we could to save it.

Oak Tree - Down

With a crane, a lift, and several chainsaws, the cracked upper branches were removed and the tree was carefully pruned. All of the wood from the tree is being put to good use around the winery and distillery.

Oak Tree - Pruning

Concrete footings were dug deep into the ground, as the base for steel supports that were engineered to support the tree in its leaning position. Had we pulled the tree back up, the concern was that we’d do more damage.

Oak Tree - Concrete Footings

Engraved into one of the footings is “Bob,” for our winery founder, Bob Wollersheim, who had a special admiration for both our mighty Burr Oak and its smaller White Oak cousin, just down the path. In the other footing, “Philippe and Julie.”

Oak Tree - Engraving

Next, the steel supports were installed, weighing several hundred pounds.

Oak Tree - Metal Posts Install

Alongside the support posts, Philippe, Julie, and family placed a time capsule of special bottles for future generations. We hope it will be many years before the tree is gone.

Oak Tree - Time Capsules

Permanent cradles were installed at the top of the posts, completing the project.

Oak Tree - Cradle Install

While we may not know for some time whether our efforts to save the tree were ultimately successful, we’re heartened by the fact that the remaining branches and leaves show no signs of wilting…and we’ve even noticed some new growth.

Oak Tree - New Growth

With the tree supported, we’ve reopened the walkway near the cellar door…and we now have a beautiful natural archway. As Philippe says, there’s the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Arch of St Louis, and now the Arch of Wollersheim!

Oak Archway