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on location: midwest ❖

heather swick



Groups enjoy visiting farms, wineries and festivals that reflect the state’s flourishing agritourism industry

aked, picked, brewed or churned, Wisconsin will take on even the most daunting appetite. If the Badger State is your choice for an agritourism group outing, then graze your way through farms, museums, fairs and orchards, all brimming with the finest Wisconsin fare. Like any good Midwestern farmer, your group can expect to roll up its sleeves and experience the work behind the meal as well as enjoy the sweet and satisfying reward of a job well done. Here is a sampling of what’s available: Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center. This museum, located in


Warrens, is the tell-all educational stop for Wisconsin’s top fruit crop, the cranberry. Learn the ins and outs of the cranberry’s Wisconsin reign through storyboards, videos and exhibits. After a tour, treat your group to the Taste Test Kitchen and Ice Cream Parlor for unique cranberry treats. The museum includes a dugout canoe once used by Native American tribes to collect the berries and light-up and slide board exhibits to illustrate the parts and harvesting of cranberries. ( Von Stiehl Winery. The oldest licensed winery in the state offers

plenty of history along with its wines. Located in Kewaunee, von Stiehl got its start making cherry wine from Door County-produced fruit. Groups will enjoy touring Civil War-era caverns, tasting more than 30 Double Gold, Gold and Silver medal award-winning wines or attending events hosted throughout the year. The most sought-after wine is the riesling, a semi-dry fruity wine with a multitude of Gold awards. The most popular von Stiehl event is the Wet Whistle Wine Fest in mid-September. Participate in a grape stomp, browse the Specialty Food and October 2011 27

Noah Katsma

Pumpkin picking is just one of many fall activities offered at Waldvogel’s Pumpkin Farm in Central Wisconsin.

on location: midwest ❖

The 11-day Wisconsin State Fair is held in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb.

Obtain Wisconsin visitor guides and itineraries – and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly – at

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cultivation, and wine and cidermaking, followed by a tasting and evaluation. A trip to the orchard allows for picnics, wagon rides and apple, pumpkin and squash-picking in the autumn.Visit the gift shop for books and supplies for creating your own wine and hard cider. ( National Historic Cheesemaking Center. Wisconsin is serious about its cheese, and at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe, your group can witness how some of the best Wisconsin cheese has been created for more than a century. The center continues to make cheese the way it was more than 100 years ago when Monroe was named “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA.” The National Historic Cheesemak-

Michael Peters

Fine Art Fair and, of course, sample some of the trademark wines. ( Waldvogel’s Pumpkin Farm. If your group is planning an autumn outing to Central Wisconsin, a trip to Waldvogel’s in Juneau is a family-friendly option to showcase the season’s harvest. Mini golf, a fish pond feeding dock, hayrides, six acres of corn mazes, a haunted granary and giant mine shaft slide are all included in the price of admission. The fresh market and bakery has a wide selection of produce and baked goodies. If you’re staying for lunch, pick up a burger from the Chuck Wagon Grill and make your own caramel apple at the Apple Kitchen. Don’t forget to scour the fields for the perfect pumpkin on your way out. ( Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery. Western Wisconsin’s Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery in Stockholm offers a more hands-on approach to wine and cider sampling. Groups tour the orchard and learn about the fruit,

ing Center is made up of a museum, farmstead, factory and gift shop, and has preserved or reconstructed each to its former glory. In the Cheesemaking Gallery are cheese-related pieces of art, tools of the trade, transporting tubs, and the portraits and stories of cheese producers and farmers. In mid-September each year, Monroe celebrates Green County Cheese Days, one of the largest fests in Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1914, Cheese Days has grown to include a parade, arts and crafts fair, a 5K run and tours of local cheese factories. ( Hinchley’s Dairy Farm Tours. A working family farm in Cambridge, Hinchley provides educational tours from April until October. Guests are invited to milk a cow, feed farm animals and take a hayride through the grounds to learn about the roles of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat in everyday life. Groups are also welcome to stop at the milk house for a firsthand look at how milk is stored and processed. Spring tours often abound with baby animals to play with, and in the fall, visitors ride to the pumpkin patch to choose a free pumpkin. ( Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market. Lautenbach’s in

Von Stiehl Winery in Kewaunee invites groups to taste the fruit of the vine.

The cream puff: A signature treat at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Door County is simultaneously an orchard, vineyard, winery and market. Your group can opt for a guided tour during the spring, summer and fall months, or attend a daily wine tasting. The country market provides hundreds of fruit and food products including pie fillings, salsa, jams and pie plates. Collect fruit for your own baked goods from the orchard’s grounds, including apples, grapes, pears, raspberries and cherries. Lautenbach’s has a festival for every season. The Summer Harvest Fest celebrates cherry season with free wine and beer tastings, cherry picking, live music and a pie-eating competition. The Fall Harvest Fest showcases the apple and grape crop while providing free guided tours and live entertainment. In the chilly winter months, visitors warm up with baked goods, Montmorecy cherry tastings, pit-spitting competitions and horse-drawn sleigh rides at the Winter Wine and Cherry Fest. ( Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. Held in early September each year, the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson is equal parts informative, entertaining and creative. Look on as competitors vie for the top skein title, take part in a shearing workshop or try your hand at rug hooking. Workshops, races and competitions

are available for festival-goers of any age and skill level. With more than 120 vendors in attendance, there is bound to be a stand or two with whatever knitted or wooly item you’re in search of. ( Wisconsin State Fair. Every August, Wisconsin celebrates both its urban and rural cultures during the 11-day Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb. Big-name performers, rides and competitions entertain nearly 900,000 visitors, but agriculture remains at the heart of the event. Food vendors, farmers and foodies alike battle for the title of best barbeque, cheese, butter and beer in Wisconsin. The Horticulture, Culinary and Crafts Pavilion displays winning entries of bread, jam, quilts and floral displays. Demos at the milking parlor show the secrets and tactics behind milking a cow. The spotlight food is the cream puff, and the Wisconsin State Fair sells hundreds of thousands of them annually. ( Whether it be wool, cranberries, apples or cheese, Wisconsin takes pride in its crop and dairy production. After

a day spent picking, sampling and learning, one tradition holds true—no one leaves Wisconsin hungry. LGT

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Groups enjoy visiting farms, wineries and festivals that reflect the state’s flourishing agritourism industry Pumpkin picking is just one of...