MKE Wine Craze

Located at Clear, in the InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel


This month we take time to celebrate the men and women who claimed the great American West and made it their own. These innovators of the vine are pioneers of the American spirit, engineers of craft, and explorers of destiny. Join us in July as you experience their unique inspirations.

July 1

Wine Tasting Ma(i)sonry • 2011, Ma(i)sonry, Hanson-Hsieh Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, USA

Aaron Pott of Blackbird Vineyards and Pott Wines is seeking the greener pastures of yester-Napa. He has made wine in Bordeaux Château, as well as many other regions throughout the world. He is an intelligent, eccentric winemaker with an impressive storied past working with many awe-inspiring greats of the wine world. Cross paths with Aaron and you might get to indulge in his deliciously crass humor and the haikus he writes for his wines. He journeys with his wit, fueled by the great wine styles once produced in Napa Valley at its peak in the ‘90s, as his guiding star. His wines have a reputation for power and finesse that capture wonder and even create it.

@AaronPott | #maisonry • #pottwine
Aaron Pott Interview

Wine Tasting SOMERSTON ESTATE • 2011, Priest Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, USA

Somerston Wines is where vision becomes reality. Alan Chapman is the principal owner of a burgeoning site in Napa that spans over 1,600 acres, allowing great diversity in what they create. On site, one will notice the sense of place that stems from the Priest Ranch site and the respected heritage of Napa Valley in the Estate wines, symbolically embodied with the sky they place on the Highflyer label. These expressions are crafted and managed by winemaker Craig Becker. Since 2009, Craig has helped launch Somerston Estate into the air of quality, representing the spirit of adventure that has helped make Napa Valley what it is today.

A Short Talk with Jack Edwards

July 8

Wine Tasting FOXEN • 2010, Foxen, 7200 Vogelzang Vineyard, Happy Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Barbara County, USA

Known as "The Foxen Boys," Bill Wathen and viticulturist Dick Doré began their efforts in 1985 when vineyards were first breaking ground in Santa Barbara. Dick decided to use the land held by his family since 1837. The trademark anchor is homage to Dick’s great-great grandfather, William Benjamin Foxen, who was an angry sea captain turned cattle rancher. Yet, what their local following seems to love most is their very minimalist approach to winemaking, as well as the solar powered tasting room, The Shack, a hidden gem in Foxen Canyon.

A Peek Behind the Scenes with Co-founder Dick Doré

Wine Tasting LAUREL GLEN • 4. 2011, Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain, USA

One thousand feet up on Sonoma Mountain is where Laurel Glen’s rich history originates. Pioneer Patrick Campbell helped cultivate it in 1977 after caring for vines at a Zen Buddhist colony, where he realized his passion. His first cabernet sauvignon soared to many accolades as one of the greats in 1981. Now, Patrick has a new venture that calls him, however the identity and quality remains with winemaker Randall Watkins at the helm. Randall has been making wine for a long time, having first pressed wine with a 50-gallon basket press bought from the garage of an old Italian woman when he was 10 years old. Now, he works at this single vineyard with new owner Bettina Sichel, leading a wine of fragrant elegance and longevity to international acclaim.

The 2013 Harvest
Vineyard Highlight with Bettina Sichel

Wine Tasting PONZI VINEYARDS | 2013, Ponzi Vineyards, Tavola Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, USA

Dick and Nancy Ponzi headed north with a dream and three kids in tow. In 1970, they started making wine from their garage, growing grapes in a mostly undiscovered region. They had a vision for this region, which later became the famed Willamette AVA. With a focus strictly on Pinot Noir, their respect for the varietal is unmatched. They have been able to generate a collegial atmosphere among other small wineries in the region, a dynamic reflection of what is possible from the Oregon winemaking community. Now with the 2nd generation, Luisa and Maria Ponzi create a vision that is congruent with that of their parents', yet also forward-thinking. Winemaker Luisa is always crafting, tasting and perfecting, while marketing director Maria is the other edge of the sword, driving the business and spirit of Ponzi and Oregon wine.

@PonziWines • #Pinotnoir
@PonziWines on instagram
The Ponzi Sisters: Maria & Luisa

July 15

Wine TastingANDREW WILL • 2005, Andrew Will Winery, Ciel du Cheval Red, Red Mountain, USA

Andrew Will has been a major contributor in putting Columbia Valley – and furthermore the state of Washington – on the map as a world-class wine-producing region. Chris Camarda began his venture in 1989. The winery was launched out of a love for wine that Chris developed while working in the restaurant trade for almost 20 years. Named after his son Will and nephew Andrew, Andrew Will wines are labeled by vineyard, with each wine a different makeup of the Bordeaux varietals. These vineyards, all in the Columbia Valley, include Camarda's own estate Two Blondes. He is part owner of the Champoux Vineyard and sources from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard.

@andrewwill • #WAwine
Hit the Floor

Wine Tasting FRANCIS TANNAHILL • 6. 2012, Francis Tannahill, Dragonfly Vineyard, Gewürztraminer, Columbia Valley, OR

Cheryl Francis and Sam Tannahill are the new up-and-coming winemakers in Oregon. You may already be familiar with a Sam-influenced creation – A to Z Pinot Noir, known for its great quality and fantastic price. This husband and wife team has begun this new venture to continue producing varietals they are passionate about in the cooler Oregon climate, while still giving the consumer the ability to easily approach the fantastic quality. Currently, production is small, but with this couple’s formidable talent, each bottle is a jewel of its own.

@REXHILLVyds • #dragonflyvineyard
An Interview with Sam Tannahill

July 22

Wine TastingEBERLE • 7. 2013, Eberle, Steinbeck Vineyard Syrah, Paso Robles, USA • 2012, Eberle, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA

In any great story you need your protagonist to travel to uncharted territory. Gary Eberle had an appreciation for wine that grew while he attended graduate school in cellular genetics, switched gears to become a winemaker, and finally earned a degree from UC Davis in 1971 in enology. He set up his own venture in the late '70s in what was a group of maybe 10 to 14 wine producers. Gary released his first Eberle wine, the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon debuting the iconic boar logo, depicting the German origin of the name Eberle, meaning “small boar.” Now after 30 years, Gary has helped to bastion the region, building the first wine caves, and being the leader in the community. For nearly 15 years now Ben Mayo, current winemaker at Eberle, has helped expand and showcase unique varietals and styles that make Eberle so representative of the artistic freedom many enjoy in Paso Robles.

Behind the Wine with Region Feature
Gary Eberle at Paso Robles Wine Festival

July 29

Wine TastingZD • 2010, ZD Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA

The journey of Norman de Leuze began as an aeronautical engineer, designing rockets along with Gino Zepponi at Aerojet in California. With a sense of adventure they changed course to a new passion, founding ZD ("Zero Defect") Wines in 1969. Norman and Gino would innovate by day and on the weekends vacation with their families and create wine. True to the moniker, this small family winery accrued awards and acclaim in the '80s and '90s. Now in charge of the next generation, ZD Wines continues to break ground as they pioneer a wine with age and grace but retain fruit. This was precisely the formula for the Abacus, a “Solera style Cabernet.” Soaring success aside, they remain grounded, with a reputation of having one of the most beautiful and friendly tasting rooms in Napa.

@ZDWines | #winetasting
The Beginning
An Interview with Chris Pisani
Barrel Making
Lot Tour 2012

Wine TastingCOSENTINO WINERY • 10. 2002, Cosentino Winery, “M. Coz” Meritage, Napa Valley, USA

Driving up highway 29, looking past the horizon, the first winery just off the road is Cosentino. Self-taught pioneer winemaker Mitch Cosentino began making wine in his corner of a wine distribution warehouse in 1980. By 1981, he had his first label, with grapes he purchased from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Sacramento counties. With all this access to grapes and his love for experimentation, Mitch was able to release unique blends and introduce new varietals. His 1986 “Poet” was the first licensed Meritage. After 30 years with Cosentino, Mitch continues to consult, but is always looking beyond that next hill. His new venture is called pureCos, and he has a passion ignited for Italian varietals expressed from Napa Valley.