It’s a nostalgic ride driving through Door County, a Wisconsin peninsula situated between Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
This 70-mile finger of land houses cities with quaint names like Egg Harbor and Fish Creek. Time seems to slow as you pass through Ephraim where nearly all the houses are painted white, an ordinance originated by Moravian settlers. The town feels pure and pristine, which is perhaps enhanced by the knowledge that it was a dry city until just a few years ago. But even before residents voted to allow the sale of beer and wine in restaurants, visitors only needed to drive a few short miles to the next city to imbibe.
The area boasts 300 miles of coastline, 11 lighthouses, five state parks, and is one of the largest producers of apples and cherries. Some local businesses are making use of the produce abundance by creating locally-sourced fruit wines, hard cider, beer and spirits. If you’re traveling to the area, here are all the wineries, distilleries and breweries you need to visit in Door County.
Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Distillery
Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Distillery share the same building. The distillery is the first in the area to produce vodka, gin and fruit-infused vodka distilled with the clean, limestone-infused waters from the Door Peninsula.
The winery is the oldest in Door County and the largest wine producer in the state of Wisconsin. They source as much as possible from Wisconsin and make all 60 of their wines and ciders onsite. Their mead, Cherry Mimosa, and rosé are sourced entirely from Door County, utilizing the nearby orchards and farms producing cherries, apples, blackberries and other fruits used in their wines and ciders.
Door County Distillery opened in 2011, the first in Door County since prohibition. They also source locally as much as possible to make vodka, gin, whiskey, brandy, moonshine, infused spirits and their own bitters.
Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market
At Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery, many of the fruits used in their wines are grown and harvested right from their orchards and vineyards, which span about 100 acres. There is a farm market that’s been in business since 1975, offering freshly picked fruits, pick your own fruits and local fruit products. Just a short walk to the barn is the winery, which has beenopen since 1985, that offers complimentary wine and hard cider tastings of 40 different varieties and guided tours during the season.
When asked why Door County for a winery, Lautenbach marketing director Carrie Lautenbach-Viste said, “Door County is a true wine destination with an ag-tourism appeal. With eight wineries all on one peninsula, each offering their own unique touch, our surrounding waters and climate are perfect for growing the fruits/cold-climate grapes. Plus, you’ll find beautiful scenery, charming towns, great restaurants and attractions for every demographic.”
Door County Brewing Company
You’ll find two beer labels under one roof at this brewery in Baileys Harbor, WI. The Door County Brewing Company brand creates beer inspired by classic styles—very easy drinking, approachable beers. They pair perfectly with the activities traditionally going on in Door County, like relaxing on the water, going for a hike or adventuring out into the snow. Created just more than a year ago, their new Hacienda Beer Co. label gives their brewers freedom to experiment with trendy styles and weird ingredients and processes.
The Hacienda team currently focuses on creating juicy, hop-forward ales, thick milk stouts and barrel-aged mixed fermentation beers. Together, both labels provide something for everyone in one place, whether you are a beer nerd chasing the hottest thing or a casual beer drinker looking for something to leisurely sip outdoors.
When Door County Brewing Co. was started more than five years ago, there wasn’t much in terms of good, locally-produced beer. John and Angie McMahon used the brewery to bring their family back together in this place they love so much. A brewery is the perfect gathering place for a community, which is why they also opened the Door County Brewing Co. Music Hall in Baileys Harbor. McMahon says their focus is on bringing the community (both locals and tourists) together using beer and great live music.
Shipwrecked Brew Pub
“We’ve been brewing in Door County for 21 years and can’t imagine being anywhere else,” says Shipwrecked Brew Pub marketing director Beth Levendusky. “We brew our standard ales and seasonal selections with ingredients from Door County and Wisconsin like Montmorency cherries, wild spruce tips and even lactose for milk stouts.”
In 1997, the current owners purchased the building that was formerly home to the Harbor Inn and reopened it as Shipwrecked. This restaurant, brewery and inn serves travelers and locals with delicious pub fare, refreshing ales brewed onsite and comfortable guest rooms. The brewery prides itself on presenting 100 percent hand-crafted Door County beers.
Owner Chris Roedel says Hatch Distilling is the only distillery in Door County making all of their spirits from scratch. Roedel is a beekeeper and their vodka and gin are made from honey from his hives. The botanicals in their gin include locally-foraged juniper berries and new growth White Spruce tips. Roedel says they work with an orchard just one mile to the north to press the apple cider for their apple brandy production. Another local organic farm provides the grains for their whiskey production. They are passionate and committed to preserving the Wisconsin farming tradition.
“Door County’s microclimate is perfect for the agriculture sectors we have such a close relationship with,” Roedel says. “This is a perfect place to keep bees. There is abundant land left unmanaged and mono-cropped that provides fantastic forage our honeybees. The climate protection provided by Lake Michigan makes this a fantastic orchard region. We have a strong foundation of organic farms committed to farming sustainably here in Door County. All of this on the supply side paired with a strong arts and culture scene make this a perfect place to craft an honest product.”