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Botham Vineyards Bottles a Taste of Passion for the World to Enjoy

By Elisha Neubauer

Some people don't enjoy their careers, toiling away in a mundane effort to pay the bills. Others manage to find a career path they truly enjoy. Some, like Peter Botham, president and founder of Botham Vineyards & Winery, find a way to capitalize on it, bottling their passion for the world to enjoy.

Although Botham Vineyards & Winery got its start in 1989, it didn't open its tasting room doors and really begin selling wine until 1994.

After nearly three decades in business, it is clear that the Botham Vineyards has something others might not: passion for crafting distinctive Wisconsin wines of international acclaim. Botham developed an interest in wine as a student at UW-Madison, and after graduate studies took him to the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore, he landed a management position at a vineyard & winery in Northern Maryland.

It didn't take long for him to realize this was professional calling and several years later, Botham made his way back to Wisconsin and began the transformation of a nearly 100-year-old dairy farm to a commercial vineyard & winery.

While passion is an obvious and much-needed ingredient in excellent wine, there are other factors that determine the success of a vintage. "Great wines begin in the vineyard," Botham explains. "Without a great crop it is impossible to make a quality wine." Weather plays an integral part in the quality of the crops, he says, but it is one big factor that's impossible to control. "Smart farming practices, keen attention to the vines and overall vineyard health are equally important and entirely within our control," he explains. "We grow cold-hardy grape varieties that can withstand our harsh winters, but still make some extraordinary wines."

Wisconsin's climate isn't ideal for grape growing, he admits. The growing season is short and "in a typical summer, we get more rain than grapes really need to be healthy and productive. This is mitigated by exceptional vineyard care and by growing grape varietals that can thrive here. We take great care to manage vine health not just during the growing season, but throughout the year," says Botham. "It is a laborious process, done largely by hand, but well worth the effort."

Of course, the draw to Botham Vineyards involves more than just the wine quality. A breathtaking location in the heart of the Iowa County Uplands, part of Wisconsin's Driftless region, fun events and an "unparalleled approach to customer service and our singular brand of Wisconsin hospitality" are further reasons that people flock to the on-site tasting room, he says.

"We work every day to ensure that the guest experience exceeds expectations from the moment they turn into our driveway to the moment they take the memory (and the wine) home," Botham affirms. "We hope that our guests leave with an understanding of the passion, integrity and attention to detail that we work to include not just in every bottle of wine but in every guest interaction."

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Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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