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Fisher King Winery Makes A Name For Itself In the Midwestern Wine Industry

By Pamela Sosnowski

It used to be that if you wanted to visit a winery in the U.S. that California was the place to go. But in recent years, wineries have been cropping up all over the country, even in areas with colder climates. One of those wineries defying the myth that grapes can only grow in warm places in Fisher King Winery of Verona. The winery says it's at the "forefront of a wine revolution", by using locally grown cold-hearty grape varieties that are helping the Midwest make a name for itself in the wine industry.

"There's no 'California in Wisconsin' theme at Fisher King Winery," says the business's owner, Alwyn Fitzgerald. "We offer an upscale, comfortable Wisconsin winery experience, one that lets local and visiting wine appreciators enjoy premium beverages that reflect our local roots. We're a gathering place for good friends, families, and fun times."

The winery's sales have been growing since its doors opened in 2011. Because of this growth the entire operation recently moved from its smaller, more confined facility in Mount Horeb to the new, larger location on Laser Street in Verona. Fitzgerald hopes that the expanded tasting room will accommodate and entertain many more visitors, and that the larger wine production space will allow him to keep up with demand by adding more fermentation tanks. All wines are handcrafted in the fermentation cellar and production room and an ever-changing list is offered. Current white wine selections range from a dry Heatwave chardonnay to the sweet Meadow Song moscato with varying degrees of semi-sweet and sweet wine in between.

The winery also produces a selection of reds and specialty wines such as Amber Dreams (a semi-sweet blush) and blueberry wine. A menu of munchies that compliment the wine include an artisan sausage and cheese sampler and chocolate truffles.

Being of Irish and German ancestry, wine has always been in Fitzgerald's blood. He sipped his first glass at age six and as he grew older, become fascinated with the process of making wine. He earned a biology degree and later a MBA but as he climbed the corporate ladder, he found himself drawn to making wine as a hobby and socializing with winemakers. While in his fifties, he finally decided to pursue his dream and opened up Fisher King Winery with his wife in 2011.

When asked what sets his winery apart from others, Fitzgerald responds with "Cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness! Careful, meticulous attention to detail. Ongoing measurement of wine components and parameters on a daily and weekly basis (what gets measured gets managed). We set the bar high and we strive for excellence. Use of fresh, locally grown grapes in our production is also key, as fresh fruit off the field is like caviar to a winemaker."

Another differentiator is the live entertainment, which can usually be found on select Friday and Saturday evenings, giving people a chance to sip some wine and hear some great local music at the venue. And as Fitzgerald explains, the staff is always willing to educate visitors about the wines. "Although a good portion of one's wine experience comes from simply enjoying what is found in the glass, we encourage our customers to ask questions," he says. "That little bit of wine education can further enhance the experience."

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