Charles and Milissa McGonegal partnered with Brightonwoods Orchard, grower of uncommon heirloom apples, to build Wisconsin’s premier artisan cidery. The business is run as a truly family operation, with three generations on hand for tasks from tours to bottling.
Our inspiration at ÆppelTreow Winery comes from America’s forgotten cider heritage and the farmstead ciders of rural England and France. We add our own creative touch to take cider from its barrel and mug origins to champagnes, draft style, still table wines and after-dinner aperitifs.
Brightonwoods Orchard has been perched on its southeast Wisconsin glacial hillside for over 50 years. The orchard celebrates the pastoral life and preserves nearly 200 cultivars of heirloom apples and pears. An Integrated Pest Management system reduces the chemical burden on the land. Both Orchard and Winery are active participants in farmland conservation, sustainable agriculture, local and Slow Food initiatives.
We believe that excellent cider begins in the orchard. Our products are blended from dozens of old fashioned cultivars: tart codlins, aromatic pippins and tannic jerseys. If it takes rare and unusual varieties to achieve the flavors we are looking for (like perry pears), then we grow them.
Sweet cider is milled and pressed on site. All our fruit is hand picked and inspected. No windfalls are allowed. While juice for drinking is UV treated, our products are not pasteurized by any means before yeast is introduced.
Fermentation is cool and slow, much like a white wine. We make minimal adjustments to correct mineral deficiencies or to match a target style. Draft ciders are aged at least 4 months before conditioning with CO2 and packaging in kegs. Still table styles are bottled at around 9 months. Sweet products are filtered and preserved. Some sulfite is present in all of our products.
Special products receive special treament. Our sparkling wines are made in the traditional champagne method. A second fermentation is induced in each bottle for at least 4 months. The bottles are ‘riddled’ upside down to settle the resulting yeast sediment. Finally, each bottle is taken in turn and its yeast blown out, sweetened and corked. Dessert wines in the mistelle style are fermented only a day before addition of fortifying spirits. This retains maximum fruit intensity. All our fortified wines use eaux de vie of the like kind of fruit, distilled at Great Lakes region distilleries. Since 2010, most are distilled right on site, as in that year we became a distillery also.