Local wineries boost tourism

Western Wisconsin has seen an explosion of new vineyards in the last several years, and it’s boosting the area’s tourism industry by quite a margin.

“It’s really sort of a mushrooming industry as far as tourism,” said Dave Clements, executive director for the La Crosse Area Visitors Bureau. “It’s really taken off with newer wineries. We’ve got five of them, Fountain City, Blaire, La Cresent, Westby…”

 Elmaro is one of those blossoming wineries that’s attracting new tourists to the area. It’s been open nearly two years, and owner Todd Roessler says the visiting crowds just keep coming.

“Being year two, we’re pretty pleased with the response we’ve had,” Roessler said. “A lot of it has to do with the grapes we’re able to grow.”

Western Wisconsin vineyards are boasting a crop that can stand cooler temps and make delicious, unique wines. Some of the wineries in the area are even open year-round.

And it isn’t just good business for Elmaro and its fellow vineyards – local communities are also cashing in on the newest tourist attraction.

“There’s been a positive response from local businesses,” Roessler said. “We distribute our wines in La Crosse, and we recommend people to stay at the hotels, visit the local gas stations, and go to the local restaurants.”

The industry is too new in the area for experts to guess how many more visitors it’s bringing in – but they anticipate the wine business to continue to ripen the area’s tourism.

“It’s developing, it’s growing, and I think you’ll only see it continue to grow in years to come,” Clements said.