Sip Around the Outskirts of Madison

By Rachel Werner | Photographed by Sunny Frantz

Skirting the lush ridges of Madison’s outer borders, two wineries recently opened expansive spaces—signaling Wisco palates are clamoring for an elevated drinking experience.

Trestles of green vines stretch along the front entrance to Drumlin Ridge Winery, tucked off a winding stretch of River Road in Waunakee. And well-travelled wine aficionados may find the locale more Californian than Wisconsin in ambiance thanks in part to the open-air main building’s patio running the full length of the back facade.

“Close family friends provided a gateway for us to explore the Central Coast winemaking region in California,” owner Dave Korb states. “The next step was finding a custom crush facility to produce and bottle the wine for us in that part of the country until the grapes we’ve planted on our property here are ready to be harvested.”

Capitalizing on this connection, the bulk of the 22 varietals Korb and his family currently make are the ones they’ve grown to love on their trips out West. Pinot Gris and Albariño are light-bodied standouts and nicely contrast the robust, fruit-forward notes in their Syrah and Pinot Noir Reserve. “It’s amazing even how wine can still evolve once it’s in the glass,” he explains. “So as a winemaker I hope everyone who comes will see this is really all about the love of wine.”

A similar passion for elevage—maturing wine from its infancy to the adequate maturity for consumption—prompted Fisher King owner Alwyn Fitzgerald in 2006 to open a winery in downtown Mount Horeb. The popularity of its weekly live music events and award-winning reds Troll Town and Marquette (both made from grapes grown in Southern Wisconsin) put Fitzgerald on the hunt for more square footage to meet increased production demands and provide more event space for guests.

“I loved the quaintness and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere of where we started,” he reflects. “But there’s so much potential for the wine bar and tasting room now in this new development hub in Verona that it’s hard not to be excited about the future.”

Having a bigger venue means more events are also on tap at Fisher King such as happy hours, trivia nights, weddings and corporate functions.

Fitzgerald is also eager to get more collaboration going amongst the other neighboring businesses. “I hope people know they are more than welcome to settle in at the bar after snagging pizza from Sugar River across the parking lot,” he says. Good info to have since the BRAVA office is only a stone’s throw away—and wine pairs perfectly with almost any lunch.

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