Wisconsin’s favorite wine is turning 30 years old this year!
Countless wineries and delicious wines have popped up in the past 30 years here in the land of Cheeseheads, but one wine has captured the hearts and refrigerators throughout the Badger State; Wollersheim’s Prairie Fumé.
Prairie Fumé was first created in 1988 by Philippe Coquard, who was working with Bob Wollersheim at the time. They were seeking something different and new, and something that could be enjoyed by nearly everyone, not just die-hard wine drinkers.
“There wasn’t even a conversation. For Julie and I, we were realizing that we needed something new and different to kick the business in gear,” Philippe said. “We were concerned with how sluggish and slow it had become.”
One fateful evening at an Italian restaurant, Philippe was told to try a Fumé styled wine, and the light bulb went on.
“It awakened me,” Philippe said. “I realized this is the style of wine we need to make. This is the wine for the future.”
With that in mind, Philippe wanted to make a vibrant wine that was full of life, capturing the incredible fresh and fruity aroma found in fermenting grapes. To do so, Philippe went back to the textbooks and even called his own father for advice on the topic, since his father was a winemaker himself back in France. Philippe determined the key was to stop fermentation to keep the wine young and bright.
Initially released the following year in 1989, Prairie Fumé found success quickly, winning multiple gold medals that year. At the time, it was the first of Wollersheim’s wines to win so many awards so quickly.
“It sold out and then we made double – and it sold out – and we made double again, and it just kept selling out,” Philippe said. “One gold, a second gold, a third and a fourth and it just kept on winning medals.”
Prairie Fumé took off and the Wollersheim brand began gaining the trust of local consumers. It came at the perfect time, as the business was beginning to struggle and was needing to increase sales or possibly be forced to close its doors. There needed to be a change in style and a change in business direction and Prairie Fumé was the first and biggest step in doing just that.
“It changed the business overnight,” Philippe added. “For us it was like a switch went on. It was a breath of fresh air, both from motivational and financially.”
Fast forward 30 years, millions of glasses poured, and the addition of a distillery, and you arrive at today. Prairie Fumé not only carved out a path for Wollersheim to continue making award winning Wisconsin wine and spirits, but also helped to build Wisconsin Wine sections at local retailers throughout the state.
We will be celebrating Wisconsin’s favorite wine at the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Prairie Fumé on June 30th, 2019. The day will be filled with opportunities to make more wonderful memories with this delicious wine. See our Facebook Events page or visit wollersheim.com for more information.