Our Vineyard

what's growing at harbor ridge winery?


Almost 300 Marquette grapevines (with plans for planting more) are growing right here at Harbor Ridge Winery.

These luscious grapes were harvested for the very first time in 2015. and can be found in Harbor Ridge Winery's Crimes Against Vines, which is a semi-sweet blend of our Marquette, Cabernet Franc and Door County Cherry. It is also currently aging in our hybrid oak barrels, and will soon be found in Harbor, our first-ever port-style wine. Stay tuned for its premiere in the fall of 2017.   


It is on days like these that it’s hard to believe that anything actually grows on these spindly vines.  But, the dormancy period is just as important as the growing stage, as it gives a much needed rest for these hard-working vines. With our short growing season, freezing temperatures and humid summers, only the hardiest of grape  varieties can survive and flourish in Wisconsin.


One of the most popular of these robust varieties is the Marquette, a medium bodied hybrid red grape.  It is said to be cousin to the Frontenac and grandson of the Pinot Noir grapes.  More importantly, it’s DELICIOUS!


One of the most critical steps in the grape growing process takes place in early Spring when the vines are still dormant.  This is when we prune the dead vines, preparing them for the new growing season.


While it may seem like a “crime” to cut these lovely green vines, pruning is necessary for them to grow.  It “jump starts” the vines and encourages them to produce more shoots.  Buds will then appear on the shoots and eventually flower.  During the flowering stage, pollination and fertilization of the grapevine takes place, resulting in tiny grape berries.  

Pruning continues throughout Spring, as it “jump starts“ the vines, encouraging them to produce more shoots.  As temperatures rise, buds appear and little clusters will appear between leaves.  Shortly thereafter, flowers emerge, signaling the beginning  of pollination and fertilization.  Around (time frame), tiny green grape berries appear and during the next few weeks both shoots and berries grow very rapidly.


By (time frame), our Marquette grapes have grown much larger, but are far from ripe.  This stage is called Veraison, during which the fruit matures and changes color.  At this point the grapes also soften and accumulate sugar.

Harvest at last! After long months of meticulous  pruning, shaping and protecting our grapevines, we now have these ripe, luscious Marquette grapes.  They taste so delicious that it’s all we can do to keep ourselves from eating them all!  Next, they are readied for crushing and pressing before their long fermentation period.


Now that the grapes are all picked, they will be crushed and de-stemmed before being moved into fermentation tanks. 


Following the fermentation, our red grapes are clarified and racked, so that it is clear of particles, stems and leftover skins.  The wine is now clean, clear and ready for aging in oak barrels and/or stainless steel tanks.


Harbor Ridge Winery currently has 60 oak barrels and 2 stainless steel tanks in our winery.  In these barrels a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Marquette wines are aged anywhere from 1 to 3 years.  Our Cherry Crush wine is aged in the stainless steel tanks for approximately 3 months.


When the wine maker deems that the wine has been aged long enough it is bottled.  It will then be stored for several months so it can “settle”.  Harbor Ridge bottles all of their wines using the bottling machine at von Stiehl Winery (pictured to the left)

One of the “perks” during the aging process is being able to taste our wines once a month right from the barrels and tanks.