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Door Peninsula Winery History
For 40 years, Door Peninsula Winery has been a mainstay of the Door County economy, producing the finest and largest selection of wines in Wisconsin.
The winery was founded in 1974 by Mark Fehls and Tom Alberts in a former two-room schoolhouse. Built in 1868, the school served Carlsville residents for nearly a century, closing its doors in 1963. The building was chosen by the winemakers because of its thick basement walls (which made it perfect for storing wine), as well as the visual appeal of its Victorian-era architecture and bell-tower.
Since Door County’s climate was too cold to grow conventional grapes, the winery’s initial products were made from locally grown fruit. Since the early 1900s, the county had been famous for its cherries, so cherry wine was a natural starting point, with apple, strawberry and plum wines following shortly thereafter. Although it has since expanded its range of offerings, Door Peninsula Winery still offers a variety of products made with these original four fruits – and flavors like Plum Loco and the apple-and-cherry-based Sunset Splash remain some of the more popular wines it produces each year.
In 1986, the winery was purchased by Bob and Noreen Pollman. Building upon the popularity of the winery’s fruit-based products and its prime location on Highway 42, they began expanding the range of wines made to include other fruits such as mango, blackberry, pears and grapes. They also helped pioneer the creation of fruit/grape blends, such as the popular Blackberry Merlot and Cranbernet (cranberry and Cabernet Sauvignon). In the past decade, the winery has established a vineyard and begun using Wisconsin-grown grapes developed specifically for northern climates, including La Crosse, St. Pepin and Marechal Foch.
With increased demand from this wider range of offerings, Door Peninsula Winery has been forced to expand out from the two-room schoolhouse several times. The Pollman family expanded the winery in 1994, doubling the size of the retail and production areas. Ten years later, space at Door Peninsula Winery was doubled again.
In 2011, a third expansion was made to accommodate Door County Distillery. Here, several varieties of vodka – including the high-end Luminous brand and a cherry-flavored version – as well as gin, whisky, brandy and bitters are made and sold. Demand for these products increased so much, Door County Distillery added a second still to their production area in 2016.
Through it all, Door Peninsula Winery has maintained excellence in its production. Fittingly, the winery’s products have consistently been recognized for their high level of quality. In 2013, Door Peninsula Winery was awarded seven bronze, six silver, four gold and three double-gold medals. Door Peninsula’s double-gold-winning Mango wine was even named “Best of Class” at the 23rd Annual Jerry D. Mead New World International Wine Competition in Ontario, Calif.
This focus to excellence was recognized in 2009 when the Door County Economic Development Corporation named Door Peninsula Winery as its winner of the Door County Industry of the Year Award.
With over 45 different wines to be tasted at one of our two tasting bars, we hope you will be able to add to this rich and flavorful history. Stop by the winery on your next visit to Door County. We are located at 5806 Hwy. 42 in Carlsville – nine miles north of Sturgeon Bay. Our doors open at 9 a.m. daily and tours are given at the top of each hour.