March 9, 2021

Wollersheim Winery - Prairie du Sac, WI Pt. 1

Wollersheim Winery - Prairie du Sac, WI Pt. 1

Philippe Coquard Owner and Winemaker of Wollershiem Winery is our guest.


Welcome, to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast. I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass, wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, the grape minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is in this episode. We head to the state where the first ever ice cream sundae was served in 1881. It's home to my favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Nearly all of the ginseng grown in the United States and about 10 percent of the world's supply comes from this state. At one time, Steve Miller called the state home. My name is Philippe Coquard. I'm the owner with my wife, Judy, the winemaker and the president of Watershed Winery Inc. And I've been in America for 38 years. And you still have the accent there heavily. And I don't even hear the Wisconsin accent. No, not quite. But you know what? All the ladies tell me it's super sexy. So you still listen to the ladies? Oh, yeah. We're in France. You originate from. So I grew up in Beaujolais. I am a third generation winemaker, both side of my family. I mean, growing grapes and making wine and somewhere around sixteen hundred. Well, that's a pretty good backgrounds. That's solid. Yeah, it's, it's in my blood. Sometimes I joke around that I have more wine than blood running through my veins, so. And that would make sense. Says that wine growing region into France. Beaujolais has over 4000 vineyards growing up in Beaujolais. Both of my uncles had wineries. My grandfather worked with them. My father was a vineyard consultant his entire life, so I was in the vineyard since I can remember going to the winery, tasting wine, putting bottle on the bottling line when I was eight years old, picking weeds, picking brush, picking grapes, driving the tractor with my uncles. I took a liking to that. I went to school for wine making, wine marketing, Bachelor of Science from Mackle Winemaking School in South Burgundy and then a fresh out of school. My childhood dream was to come to America, so I applied to many different ways and I ended up coming with A Future Farmers of America in 1984, and my father in law picked up my name on the list of intern wanting to come to the US and that's how I ended up in Wisconsin. So then that gets you to America. And then that was eighty four. So the winery had already been established? Yes, the winery was, let's call it a small place. We were doing eight thousand gallons. Thirty seven thousand bottles. Some were, some was good, some was okay. Financially difficult, struggling lack of cash flow. In the meantime as a good Frenchman I fell in love with the owners daughter. Got to Judy. My wife was still in college in marketing and business at UW Madison, and then she joined the family business. We were raising a couple of kids, so it was financially it was very difficult. Ok, so in 1972, your in-laws bought the winery. Tell me a little bit about that, Bob and Jillian Wollersheim, both native of Wisconsin. My father in law was an electrical engineer. He put himself through college electrical motor rewinding. My mother and I worked at different banks while my father in law was studying and ended up teaching electrical engineering at UW Madison. I ended up to work for the Science Center tire of the high tech world. He was an avid home winemaker, backyard grape grower, knew of this historic winery and got interested in purchasing the place. And he put a business plan together. Talk to the local bank with whom we still bank bought the property in 1972. The property had been a winery since 1866, closed down after Prohibition became a Wisconsin farm and then nineteen seventy two. My in-laws Bob the place restarted everything from scratch without a dime in their pocket. In part two of our interview with Philippe, owner and winemaker of Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. We learned of a very important discovery in 1988. I created a wine called Prairie Fumé. Thank you for listening. I'm Forrest Kelly. This episode of the Best Five Minute Wine podcast was produced by IHYSM, if you like the show. Please tell your friends and pets and subscribe until next time pour the wine and ponder your next adventure.