Editor’s note: The following is the second in a series of articles highlighting each of the four farms that make up the stops on the 2019 Tour ‘de Farm ride to be held on June 29. Registration deadline and information appears at the end of the article.
By Jerry Clark | Special to the Advance
Fifteen two and a pair is four and a vineyard for a lifetime. Many new ideas and projects have been spawned from a game of cribbage while enjoying a few refreshments with some friends. For Cathy and Randy Feuling owners of CR Vineyard, planting and growing a wine and table grape business was maybe the last thing they envisioned would become of some card playing.
CR Vineyard will host the second stop of the Tour ‘de Farm ride on June 29. Located on 120th Ave. just east of County Highway F, the Vineyard is a hidden gem in the area and the Feuling‘s are excited to partake in this special bike tour benefit.
Cathy and Randy purchased 38 acres back in 2001, from Larry and Norman Bohl. The farm prior to the Bohls owning it was the Neisen family farm. When the property came up for sale, Randy was instantly awestruck by the old barn on the property. After a little/a lot of persuasion to his wife to make the purchase, they made the investment. Originally, they planned on renting out their land for farming. However, as time went on and wineries were being built they thought of transitional ways of farming.
Enter the infamous game that started it all. Cold refreshments, hot cards, and new ideas were thrown around when Cathy and Randy decided to plant a test plot of grapes in 2005 which included 21 plants of five different varieties. The Feuling’s leaned on mentors and members of the Minnesota grape growers Association and the WGGA. With tremendous help and support from friends and family, to help build the Vineyard and plant the grapes, the Vines started…along with all the hard work they had just gotten themselves into.
Neither Cathy or Randy came from a farm or agricultural background. They both grew up in the city of Chippewa Falls. Cathy and Randy’s family’s roots were from Tilden, their grandparents were farmers and land owners in Tilden. They both remember enjoying time on their grandparents farms.
They fully understand the challenges now of farming and all the obstacles that need to be overcome to grow a quality crop. Randy has mentioned that “mother nature will have the last word” when it comes to growing any crop including grapes.
One feature that stands out in the Vineyard is a fuel powered wind machine. The machine has a 20 foot propeller which generates enough air movement to prevent frost from injuring the crops during bud break and late in the year at harvest. A temperature sensor in the center of the Vineyard triggers the wind machine to start when air temperature begins to approach freezing. Needless to say, neighbors know the temperature is low when the wind machine starts up.
Today the Feuling‘s have eight varieties of grapes on 12 acres which results in 6,500 vines with 540 plants per acre. Some of the more popular varieties grown include Marquette, La Crescent, and Somerset.
The Somerset is unique as it is also used to produce an ice wine. Some of their customers include Wollersheim Winerey of Prairie du Sac, Wis., Vines & Rushes Winerey of Ripon, Wis., and Carlos Creek winery in Alexandria, Minn.
The Feuling‘s have two married daughters that have blessed them with four grandchildren.
Some may think growing grapes in Wisconsin is unheard of, but Randy and Cathy have proven that with a bit of guidance from above and the love and support from family and friends, it’s possible. They enjoy the challenge of different practices, as they feel growing cold climate grapes is still in the pioneering stage of production knowledge.
During the tour stop at CR Vineyard the safety program will address ergonomics and tool safety presented by UW–Madison extension Chippewa County agent Jerry Clark and UW agriculture safety and health specialist Cheryl Skjolass.
Sandwiches courtesy of Subway in Bloomer are planned as a treat at this stop on the tour.
The next stop on the tour will be Klingers Farm Market.
Deadline for riders and non-riders to register for the ride is June 10. Registration forms and additional information is available at https://foreverinourfields.com.