Hawk’s Mill Winery: Sip Some Wine in the Summertime

After honeymooning in wine country, a New Glarus couple found they could bring a slice of Napa back to southern Wisconsin. Their cozy winery is now a must-see destination.

The rolling hills at Hawk’s Mill Winery proved unsuitable for agriculture but ideal for grape-growing. Today, the vineyard has more than 2,000 vines.

Teresa and Ric Joranlien honeymooned in California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys after their wedding in 2010. In the heart of America’s wine country, Teresa convinced her new husband, an avid beer drinker, to give the local wineries a try. To their surprise, he fell in love.

“It was like a light switch,” says Teresa. “He started trying every kind of winery so he could get a real taste of the differences. The next year, we went out to Napa and Sonoma again, and on our way home he said, ‘Let’s plant a vineyard.’”

Teresa was reluctant. They were both working full-time, with Teresa frequently traveling. The conversation died off, but the idea kept simmering for Ric. The couple’s 18-acre farm in southern Wisconsin wasn’t well-suited for traditional crops, but it’s hilly and rocky, ideal for grapes.

Ric casually started making wine at home and sharing it with friends and family. Their positive reactions gave the Joranliens the courage to take a leap of faith and open Hawk’s Mill Winery, a winery and vineyard that now sits on the couple’s farm at W8170 Pilz Road, in Browntown, Wis., just 25 minutes south of New Glarus.

Today, visitors flock to the cozy log cabin-style winery that overlooks the Joranliens’ hilly estate and their 2-acre vineyard, in addition to the scenery of a local forest preserve. A patio is open for casual wine tasting, and an event pavilion nearby holds large gatherings of up to 200 guests.

From 150 vines planted in 2012, the vineyard grew to nearly 2,000 vines over the next few years, as the Joranliens bought the property next door to accommodate their growing enterprise. After one year, Ric left his job to pursue the winery full-time. Teresa followed suit after two years.

Things kept on growing, and in 2017, the couple purchased the former Primrose Winery in New Glarus, as its previous owners prepared to retire. Now dubbed Hawk’s Mill WineHaus, this dedicated tasting room at 500 First St. occupies a well-kept 1800s-era building right in downtown New Glarus. The building’s warm wood interior and Swiss-style trim set a cozy backdrop for sampling new wines.

The WineHaus serves up a wide range of varietals, all crafted in Browntown. Popular choices include Currantly Single, a sweet blend of black currant and pear, as well as Alpaca Punch, a sweet red berry wine named after the couple’s alpacas. The menu, which covers 25 choices, encompasses dry reds and whites as well as estate reds made exclusively from the cold-weather grapes raised in Browntown.

To supplement the Wisconsin harvest, the Joranliens blend their wines from grapes raised in northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin, as well as juice sourced from New York, California and Washington state.

The log cabin winery in Browntown serves up several appetizers to complement a wine tasting. The menu varies by season, with popular flatbreads including pulled pork, barbecued chicken and chicken bacon ranch. The alpaca snack cheese plate comes with multiple cheeses, crackers, cheese spread and mustard, as well as an alpaca-shaped dark chocolate.

Hawk’s Mill Winery in Browntown is open daily this summer from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Winter hours are Wednesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.

Hawk’s Mill WineHaus in New Glarus is open Friday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. WineHaus winter hours are Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.