It’s officially cherry season in Northeast Wisconsin! As the local bakeries fill the air with aromas of delicious cherry pies and local markets produce mouth-watering cherry jams, we would also like to jump on board the cherry appreciation wagon and highlight our own array of cherry favorites!
As one can imagine, the frigid Wisconsin climate does not always provide the blanketed, cozy environment that most grapes require to thrive. Therefore, the history and success of von Stiehl is intertwined with the plentiful and picturesque Door County cherry orchards. When von Stiehl became the first licensed winery in the state in 1967, the wines that the founder, Doc Stiehl, produced were made from local cherries. To protect the wines from exposure to heat and the sun’s rays, the bottles were wrapped in a combination of white plaster and netted gauze. While many things have changed since Doc Stiehl opened the winery in 1967, we continue to use Doc’s original recipes for the two wines that founded the winery, Sweet Cherry and Dry Cherry wines, which are made with Door County Montmorency cherries. Although we no longer plaster wrap any of the cherry wine bottles today, (I know, surprisingly, no current staff members have volunteered to resume the plaster wrapping process), we pay homage to the plaster wrapping with a smooth, white bottle coating in its place. Continuing with the cherry tradition, our Holiday Wine was our first cherry blush wine, which was released in 1992, and has a Michigan white grape base and is infused with Door County Montmorency cherry juice. The only disclosure with this bottle is to not let it’s name fool you because every day can be a holiday!
As the winery expanded, so did the realm of delicious possibilities! Thus, the introduction of fortified wines began! Our Cherry Kirsche is just one of the many fortified wines that the winery produces, and packs a huge cherry flavor punch! A neutral grape brandy smooths out the edges of this wine and creates the perfect dessert in a bottle. But the experimentation with cherry wines, and our Kirsche specifically, didn’t stop there. In 2001, we began a line of Oak-Aged Cherry Kirshe that soon grew to become another crowd favorite! To obtain this oak flavor, our original Cherry Kirshe was aged in wine barrels that had previously aged our Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. After six months, the bright brandy taste mellowed, leaving a new, toasted version of Cherry Kirsche. Compare the two Kirsches’ back-to back and taste what 6 months in an oak barrel can do!
In 2009, we released a special wine in Doc Steihl’s honor: Doc Stiehl’s Cherry Bounce. The label was inspired by an old tonic label and is a blend of cherry brandy and the original von Stiehl cherry wine recipe. Get inspired yourself and experience this bottle of Cherry Bounce against our 36 Month Cherry Bounce! That’s right, Cherry Bounce Aged for 36 Months! In this bottle, all the flavor notes that you would find in a bottle of our original Cherry Bounce are intensified and present rich cherry and chocolate flavors that dance across your palate and warm the soul!
Our most recent cherry addition has been our Cherry Esprit, released in the Fall of 2020. Our Cherry Esprit is the sparkling version of our Sweet Cherry wine and presents the perfect amount of cherry flavor, sweetness, and bubbles within every sip. In 2020, when the world seemed to be a confusing place, our Cherry Esprit was introduced and proved to make for the best celebratory wine when there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to celebrate. And for that, we give our Cherry Esprit two thumbs up, a sanitized-hand high five, and a big ole socially distanced hug.
As you can see, cherries and von Stiehl have been through the good, the bad, and the Covid. The two go together like cheese and crackers; like ice cream and breakups; like Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko.. “like wop baba lumop a wop bam boom”. You see what I’m getting at here. As the winery has grown, we have not forgotten where we came from. We simply just add a little more brandy nowadays. So far, no complaints. So let’s all raise a glass of our favorite cherry wine and give a big “Cheers” to the fruit that makes us blush as much as the wines they go into.