Lewis Station Winery is a family owned winery and boutique wine shop in the heart of downtown Lake Mills, Wisconsin. The winery has the look and feel of an old vintage gas station, but has all of the ammenities of a new world class micro-winery. Many of the wines produced and bottled by Lewis Station are Gold and Silver award winners in the World Wine Competition and the Finger Lakes Region Wine competition.
In 2018, Lewis Station Winery became Wisconsin's first Certified Craft Winery, earning certification from the Craft Wine Association. The designation means the winery makes its wines in small lots and the winemaking is entirely overseen by the winemaker, using grapes from an identifiable vineyard.
About a 50-minute drive from Milwaukee and 20 minutes from Madison, Lewis Station Winery operates out of a refurbished old-school gas station in Lake Mills, offering daily wine tastings, as well as a small bistro menu, Wednesday through Saturday. Within Wisconsin's greater wine scene now home to close to 125 wineries
Lewis Station is standing out for its big reds, such as its Lodi California Zinfandel, with bold dark-fruit flavors and spiciness, or its sangiovese, teeming with red and dark berries.
"For me, craft wine is about appreciating the differences from grape crop to grape crop," says winemaker and owner Rob Lewis. "Not just the seasonality and terroir, but really having the flexibility to make the most out of each vintage. I make wines with stories, and I want people from all over to travel to hear them. Being able to tell a different story for each bottle is way better than sending it out to sit on a grocery store shelf."
A level-two certified sommelier with training at University of Missouri and University of California at Davis, Rob produces around 25 different wines, the majority of which are made in tiny 60 to 70 case lots. Rob says his goal as a winemaker is to "start with good juice and not mess it up," but making wines in such small runs also allows him to oversee every step of the winemaking process.
Around eight of Lewis Station's wines are on the sweeter side, featuring a combination of grapes and other fruits. But Rob says his passion lies in robust reds, often utilizing California grapes.
For something out of the ordinary, try the Cabernet Sauvignon aged in used Jack Daniels oak barrels: It's a powerful wine with more than a hint of bourbon, and one of Lewis Station's best sellers.
With its slick vintage digs, Lewis Station Winery is a vital part of the Lake Mills community. Chef Jason Dunn offers a bistro menu rooted in meticulously sourced local ingredients. "His dishes as creative as the wines," says Rob.
Trying the wines with food is an important part of the Lewis Station experience. Rob studied gastronomy at Ashworth College and Le Cordon Bleu, and he runs the Wisconsin Wine School, dedicated to instructing restaurant professionals as well as wine lovers on wine pairing.
Rob admits he didn't always have a definition for craft wine but did always considered himself a craft winemaker even before hearing of the Craft Wine Association.
"Craft breweries are popping up everywhere here in Wisconsin," he says, "and wineries should do the same thing. When I read about the Craft Wine Association, it took all of 30 seconds to go to the website. I immediately knew it was for me, and I wanted to be the first. I'm not the oldest, the biggest, and certainly not the prettiest, but I can be the first certified craft winery in Wisconsin because I was a craft winemaker already."
To learn more about Rob Lewis and Lewis Station Winery, please watch the quick video below.