Languid Days of Vines and Wines

Explore the Unknown!  

For July 29, 2020

Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors.

Hi WN@TL Fans,

It is high summer, is it not?  The corn is tall and tasseled, the double harvest of winter wheat is done with the grain in the bin and the Rumpelstiltskin-worthy straw in six-foot biscuits of gold in the fields, and the alfalfa is headed to yet another cutting.

In the vineyards that spangle the Wisconsin countryside the grapes cluster in the dappled shade of the leaves, the globes growing towards the day in August or September when the Brix assay says they’re ready to harvest, crush, squeeze, and begin the ferment.  It is the time of year to intone my favorite call-and-response passage from the Mass:  “Fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become for us our spiritual drink.  Blessed be God forever.”  Amen, amen.

Transubstantiation aside, fermentation is miraculous enough.  To me viticulture is a gentle science and an earthly craft, but enology is a cunning elixir of modern technique and ancient tradition.  Taken together, few flavors of agriculture are so bucolic in their gentle lay upon the land:  the rolling rows of the vineyards, the orderly courtyards of the winery— it’s all Tuscany and Provence.

If there be truth in wine—and there is—it is also veritable that it’s a hard thing to grow wine grapes in Wisconsin.  It’s not the latitude—Prairie du Sac lies further south than Bordeaux.  Alas, our winters suffice.

Overcoming the hurdles of climate and culture is the determined enterprise of the intrepid vintners and the ingenious researchers who breed the varieties, cultivate the vines, and produce the wines that give our little corner of Earth our own terroir.

Here are four Wednesday Nite @ The Labs to give us a tasting of the wine industry in Wisconsin.

Peter Botham and Sarah Botham


Dave Schreiner


Amaya Atucha


Nick Smith


Serendipity is my favorite vintage:  I remember being astonished to learn that Louis Pasteur developed “pasteurization” not for milk, but rather for ‘les maladies de vins’ — the diseases of wines.

Here’s to more interplay between the vineyard and the pasture, and between the winery and the creamery & fromagerie, here in America’s Dairyland.


I hope to see you sometime soon once we can resume Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H


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