PromiseLand releases new wine

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Pat and Cindy Wachendorf, owners of PromiseLand Winery in rural Guttenberg, will release a cabernet called Reminisce at Guttenberg's 25th annual GermanFest. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Guttenberg’s own PromiseLand Winery will unveil a brand new wine at GermanFest during a special wine release ceremony. Readers may be familiar with PromiseLand’s Crazy Girl, Cabin Fever, First Crush, and other varieties of sweet, semi-sweet, and dry wines; however, this month PromiseLand will introduce something completely different.

Pat and Cindy Wachendorf, owners of PromiseLand Winery, have spent the past nine months working on their first cabernet. The dry, red wine isn’t often found in area wineries because cabernet sauvignon grapes will not survive an Iowa winter. The Wachendorfs received the cabernet grapes from Chile in January and have since been filtering and flavoring the juice with tannins to give it a subtle, oaky flavor. The finished wine will be ready for tasting come GermanFest, and those attending the release ceremony will be among the first to sip the beverage.

When naming the new wine with Guttenberg’s 25th annual GermanFest in mind, the Wachendorfs submitted a label for approval with the title, “Prairie La Porte,” – the earliest name for Guttenberg. That name was rejected. “The U.S. can’t name any alcoholic beverages with the word port because of an agreement with Europe,” Cindy told The Press. 

She went back to the drawing board and woke up one morning with a word in mind. “Lots of people are coming back for this event, but what are they actually coming back to do? Reminisce with friends and family. That’s the reason people are coming home,” she realized. The idea stuck, and the cabernet will be called Reminisce in honor of GermanFest.

“Our committee hopes this is the start of a partnership to celebrate what is now a part of our culture – a local family making local wine,” say GermanFest organizers, who anticipate featuring a Riesling next year (although Riesling is considered a German wine, this year’s batch won’t be ready in time for GermanFest).

After two consecutive cold, damp springs in 2013 and 2014, PromiseLand vineyards are flourishing in the long, warm summer of 2015. Hotter days sweeten the St. Croix, LaCrosse, and Marechal Foch grapes, and Pat regularly measures the sweetness level, or brix, of the fruit in the vineyard. Even after eight years of harvest, Cindy admits, “Our vineyard cannot produce enough grapes to meet the demand for our wine.” PromiseLand wine is sold in 40 stores, and the Wachendorfs plan to release two more new wines in addition to Reminisce this fall – a sweet red called Kid Sister, and a Riesling called Coming Home. They’ll also be re-releasing Harmony, a variety that was temporarily discontinued due to high demand of grapes for other wines.

Interested readers can have a hands-on experience at PromiseLand Winery this weekend, Sept. 12 and 13, by volunteering to harvest ripe grapes in the vineyard. “In the past, we’ve had groups like Relay for Life, volleyball and cheerleading teams, and FFA members use grape picking as a fundraiser,” say the Wachendorfs, who pay 10 cents per pound picked. Participants fill 30-pound totes, which are picked up by wagons and replaced with empty containers. To get involved, contact Amy Wachendorf Ries at amy@promiselandwinery.com.

Pat and Cindy Wachendorf will present festival-goers with their new cabernet on Friday evening, Sept. 25, at 5:30 p.m. The wine will continue to be sold by the glass or by the 25th annual GermanFest commemorative bottle throughout the festival. 

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