One of the highlights of my trip to Door County, Wisconsin, was going dashing through the snow in a two-horse open sleigh. John Mayberry, owner of Mayberry’s Carriages gives sleigh rides through Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery near Fish Creek—and it’s a not-to-be-missed winter festivity.
The bracing cold air makes you feel alive as the massive Belgian horses whisk you past the red 100-year-old dairy barn, rows of grape vines, cherry and apple orchards, and into the woods. You can delve under lap blankets on the sleigh’s wooden benches to stay warm while John narrates the winery’s history, including the 1950s and ’60s heyday when Door County became known as “Cherryland USA” because it grew 95 percent of the tart cherries in the United States.
The beautiful snow and blue sky are accompanied by the ringing of sleigh bells, which just naturally makes you jolly. No wonder Santa laughs so much.
The Fruits of Summer—Enjoyed in Winter
After the sleigh ride, our group browsed in the Orchard Country Winery store, which sells just about every food you can think of that uses cherries: cherry wine, Montmorency cherry juice, cherry salsa, frozen and canned cherries, cherry honey-mustard pretzel dip, cherry jam, cherry vinaigrette, cherry raspberry pie filling, cherry chocolate topping (for ice cream), cherry barbecue sauce, cherry almond scone mix, cherry jalapeño spread—and even cherry popcorn.
I tasted six wines—everything from Cherry Chardonnay (a cherry/ grape blend that’s only faintly cherry flavored) to Cherry Blossom (100 percent cherries) with a rich cherry taste. The Winter Wine—an estate-grown Montmorency cherry wine spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves—was one of my favorites, especially after being outside in the cold.
Because one of the joys of traveling is carrying home some of the local foods or beverages as souvenirs, I brought home a bottle of Winter Wine for my family to celebrate with on Christmas.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor
Feel free to share your most treasured memories of flavors from your travels.