Seasons of the Vine: May/June 2013


Not My Parents’ Wine

Forty years ago France produced the finest wines in the world. French, Italian and a few Spanish wines were the only wines Americans really knew at that time. My parents drank cheap Burgundy or mixed drinks and “highballs.” When I went onto college I entered the realm of Boone’s Farm (“graduating” since).

One of the true turning points worldwide was the Judgment of Paris (a/k/a The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976), which placed top-quality Californian Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons in competitive blind tastings against France’s great Burgundies and Bordeaux reds.

People were shocked when a California wine ranked top in each category (the 1973 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon). This triumph sparked a new era of wine.

“Domestically California was all previous generations thought of when it came to wine, especially for us here in the Midwest,” notes Tom Haddad of Andy’s Liquor who’s been in the industry for 40 years. He is quick to point out that Washington and Oregon followed with notable wines. “And who ever would have thought that winemakers in Australia, Chile and Argentina could make decent, if not actually good wine.” In the late 70s wines from Germany and Italy were popular with Americans—Liebfraumilch, which was made primarily for export (to appease the American pallet; few Germans would touch that) and Lambrusco (a best seller from Italy). In the 80s, varied new varietals and wine blends began to appear. In decades since, wines have continued to evolve with sales rising overall.

Consumers today have access to a wide range of wine styles. Wine club memberships have emerged. Visiting wineries has become a form of destination travel with consumers getting to know producers. Haddad also believes that interest in wine has risen partly due to well-informed wine distributors who passionately strive to explain their product.

So “Cheers to you, Mom and Dad” as I savor my Oregon Pinot Noirs and Argentine Malbecs!

Upcoming Events/Tours
May 19, Winery Trolley Tour, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Enjoy bluff scenery and stunning views of the Mississippi as this winery trolley tour visits three bluff country wineries: River View Vineyard & Winery, Seven Hawks and Garvin Heights. Lunch on your own in LaCrosse. For more information, visit

May 25–26, Top the Barrel, 12–5 p.m. Sample wines from the cask at member wineries along the Three Rivers Wine Trail. For more information, visit

June 1–2, June Bloom Wine Event, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sample fine wine, cider and food from wineries on the Great River Road Wine Trail. For more information, visit

June 22–23, Three Rivers Wine Trail Annual Wine and Art Crawl, 12–5 p.m. Enjoy great local wine and exciting local art at five wineries on the trail: Cannon River Winery, Falconer Vineyards, St. Croix Vineyards, Northern Vineyards and Winehaven Winery. Complete your wine trail passport for a complimentary glass of wine. For more information, visit

June 23, Winery Trolley Tour, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Enjoy wine and art in park as this winery trolley tour journeys to Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery in Spring Valley and then to Lanesboro for the annual “Arts in the Park.” For more information, visit

News From Area Wineries
Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery in Spring Valley recently won a gold medal for their 2012 Marquette at the 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. A total of 3,500 wines from all 50 states and 20 countries entered this year’s competition. Four Daughters’ Edelweiss, Sparkling Moscato, Marechal Foch and Brianna wines also scored well. For a complete listing of results, visit