TREMPEALEAU — With several wine competition medals and its recent Wisconsin Winery of the Year award, the Elmaro Vineyard winery northwest of Trempealeau continues to grow faster than its owners had expected.
The winery and its vineyard are owned and operated by former corn and soybean farmers Mark and Lynita Delaney, their son Cameron and his wife Megan, and their daughter Laura and her husband Todd Roessler. They’re on a scenic spot, atop a hill on the Delaneys’ farm.
The winery opened in 2011 and makes about 25 kinds of wine. They are sold by the glass and the bottle in the winery tasting room. Bottles also are available at grocery and liquor stores, and some area restaurants serve Elmaro wines.
Elmaro wines can be found in western Wisconsin, in an area roughly bordered by Mauston, Prairie du Chien, Whitehall and Pepin. The greater La Crosse area is Elmaro’s biggest market.
Elmaro hopes to expand distribution to Minnesota sometime in the next few years, said Todd Roessler, who handles the winery’s marketing.
When Elmaro opened in 2011, its five-year plan included making 20,000 gallons of wine a year by the fifth year. But it made more than 30,000 gallons last year, Roessler said, far surpassing its original goal and making it the state’s eighth-largest winery by volume.
Wisconsin has more than 140 wineries today, up from only 13 wineries in 2000.
Elmaro Vineyard’s success was recognized in January at the sixth annual Wisconsin Grape Growers Association Industry Awards. That’s where Elmaro received the Wisconsin Winery of the Year award for 2016.
The award is presented to a winery that has advanced the recognition and quality reputation of Wisconsin wines. “It’s really exciting to be recognized by your peers,” Roessler said.
He said reasons for Elmaro’s growth include “the response from the community” and the quality of the products made by the mother-daughter wine-making team of Lynita Delaney and Laura Roessler.
“Also, area stores and restaurants have helped promote our wines,” Todd Roessler said. “They like seeing a local business succeed.”
“This is a good area to have a winery in,” Lynita Delaney added. “The area we’re in is beautiful, and that’s huge.” She also credited Roessler for his marketing efforts.
Roessler also runs a mobile bottling operation that he takes to other Midwest wineries.
Elmaro makes wine year-round, using its own grapes as well as those produced by other growers in the region and one in Arkansas. It also uses cranberries and black currents grown in Wisconsin and grape juice from New York.
With its wine production continuing to increase, six acres of grapevines were planted this spring, increasing the size of the winery’s vineyard to 15 acres. “The market will dictate” whether the vineyard will expand beyond that, Roessler said.
It will be three years before the new grapevines bear fruit, and five years before they produce a full yield, he said.
Elmaro has about 20 kinds of wine in stock at any given time, and makes about 25 different kinds over the course of a year. “Some are small batches,” Roessler said.
Its biggest seller remains Elmaro Rosa, a sweet red wine.
Elmaro had about 20 employees five years ago. “We now employ close to 75 people at our peak,” Roessler said. The winery is especially busy from spring through November. “There’s more foot traffic and more ability to sit outside” during those months, Roessler said.
The winery’s tasting room has inside seating, but there’s also a large outdoor seating area.
About 10 weddings a year are held in the vineyard. Weddings can be held there on Fridays and Sundays, from spring through fall.
The winery’s long monthly events list includes such things as yoga classes, live music, wine and dessert pairings, book signings and wine and canvas events.
Elmaro will hold its annual Country Wine Tour event on June 24, with wine tastings, arts and crafts, carnival games and food vendors.
Besides wine, the tasting room sells such things as appetizers, a dessert of the month, jams, gourmet chocolates, cheese, summer sausage, beer, juices, glassware, apparel and gift items.
The Crush Pad room in the winery is used for crushing grapes, and at other times for events such as catered five-course dinners that feature Elmaro wines. The Crush Room also features artwork (which is for sale) by a featured local artist of the month.