By JIMMY BENTIVENGA
Studio Winery, just north of downtown Lake Geneva, is the result of hobbyest-turned-professional. Owner, Doug Jackson’s efforts won a blue ribbon at the 2006 Wisconsin State Fair Wine Competition.
Jackson, a sales rep for a wine and beverage wholesaler, is also a wine maker by trade in his spare time. He bought the building along with Kathy, his wife, in 2009.
After their win in 2006, the couple entered more contests and did well.
“We got big heads and decided what the hey! Let’s go for it,” Jackson said.
It was at the urging of Jackson’s wine mentor that he looked for commercial properties in Lake Geneva.
“Once we found this site, it took lots of work,” Jackson said.
The building was gutted, then fitted with fermentation tanks, holding tanks and aging barrels.
“Most of the vinifera [traditional wine-type grapes] come from the West Coast,” Jackson said. “We hire single-vineyard grapes, growing to my specs. This is shipped as must [crushed grape juice] for economics. Non-vinifera hybrids are grown locally for the Musicians’ Series. These come in as grapes; four from Illinois, and two from Western Wisconsin,” he said.
Everything but growing is done on-site for their wines: the crushing, destemming, fermenting, aging and bottling are all done within the winery.
In addition to being an urban winery, Studio Winery is a gallery for local artists and a music recording studio. Kathy Jackson, a commercial artist and painter, designs the labels, acts as curator for the gallery portion of Studio and manages the bar.
The exterior of the single-story building is clad in simple white, stainless steel framed windows and doors. The main entrance to the left has a single-bay loading dock.
An art and wine retail space greets visitors right away. Several cases filled with small items for purchase line the path. Large murals and wall art are hung throughout.
The large, standing-room-only bar, lures anyone into the room while the bar’s back wall displays floor -to-ceiling vintages.
An urban, industrial piano lounge allows for some needed rest and relaxation. A combination of tall tables with industrial steel-backed bar stools and standard tables give patrons a variety of seating options.
A grand piano sits center stage. Today, a drum set, speakers and microphones await the afternoon’s entertainment.
Jackson’s collection of audio speakers are being converted into a P.A. system, while an overstuffed leather couch and several pub chairs offer plenty of comfortable seating. Moreover, there is access to the fully exposed fermenting area and loading dock as well as an outdoor patio.
“This is being developed into a full-service sound studio,” Jackson said.
Live music is performed every Saturday, from 4-8 p.m..
Doug Jackson’s band, Hobie & the Leftovers play the first Saturday of each month.
Studio Winery is open until the New Year from 11-6 p.m., however, it is closed on all Tuesdays. The winery is open until 9 p.m. on Friday – Sunday, January – March.
Group tastings are available for bachelorette parties, book clubs, social events and private parties. Check www.studiowinery.com for more information and event updates.
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Studio Winery – an Urban Winery
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Travel Wisconsin: Wisconsin Department of Tourism
Wisconsin’s official travel & tourism site
Wisconsin State Fair Wine Competition
Wisconsin State Fair
Wisconsin Winery Association
211 Canal Road
Waterloo, WI 53594