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Couple Skillfully Adapts to Winery's Regional Weather and Produces Area's Best Wine

By Kelly Church

For Teresa Joranlien, getting her husband Ric to enjoy a glass of wine with her wasn't the easiest task. The road to opening their winery, Hawk's Mill Winery in Monroe, WI, was unpredictable. When the two first met, Ric was a beer drinker, who only sipped on a glass of wine occasionally to humor her. That all changed after their honeymoon trip to Napa Valley where Ric fell in love with Sebastiani Merlot. From then on, Ric became infatuated with winemaking, even encouraging Joranlien to start their own vineyard. 

Joranlien and her husband started by making wine out of their basement and distributing to friends and family. Luckily, the land just south of where they live became available; the couple purchased the land and built their winery and tasting room on the property. They opened in March of 2015. 

"We tried to create a homey atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, and can come and hang out," Joranlien says. "We agreed going into this that our goal wasn't to make world class wine, but rather to make good tasting wine at a great value, and provide our customers with an enjoyable tasting room experience." 

As Joranlien and her husband learned more about winemaking, they discovered the benefits and challenges of growing in different climates. Because of the cold weather in their region, Hawk's Mill Winery can't grow the more common grapes used for wine: merlot, cabernet and chardonnay. The grapes grown here are hybrids, such as marquette, petite pearl and st. pepin. 

"Growing grapes in a cold climate is a challenge to say the least," Joranlien says. "The short growing season and humid climate creates challenges for both growing and winemaking. The good news is that grape hybrids being developed at the University of Minnesota are helping to improve the wine quality here in the midwest." 

Hawk's Mill Winery crafts and sells a wide range of wines, from very dry to sweet. However, their speciality is blends on the sweeter side and fruitier wines. They're all named after the environment in the area; the scenery and wildlife found in Wisconsin. Their wines can be sampled in their tasting room, and purchased by the bottle or just the glass. The tasting room is open seven days a week April through September, and Wednesday through Sunday from October to March. 

"You don't need to be an expert in wine to come and do a tasting or enjoy a glass or bottle of wine," Joranlien says. "Our servers are more than happy to share as much or as little information about us and our wines as you'd like." 

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