Campo di Bella

Winery Dining Farm Lodging

Farm

Campo di Bella is situated on a 20 acre family farm. Our family purchased the farm in 2008 and slowly converted the horse pastures into vegetables fields, an orchard and vineyard. The farm has been populated with a smattering of sheep, chickens, ducks and a farm dog named Stella. This was all undertaken by a couple of city “kids” from Chicago who learned farming the hard way – trial and error and seasoned advice from other local farmers. We have many entertaining stories about our adventures as farmers that we would be happy to share with you over a glass of wine.

Vineyard

We have over 350 vines on our farm consisting of Foch, Frontenac, Petite Pearl, St. Pepin and La Crescent grapes. Cold hardy red varietal grapes have a high acid content and make a light to medium bodied red wine with notes of cherry. Our vineyard was started in 2010 and has gone through a series of changes. Our initial vision was to grow grapes organically and use our small flock of sheep to do the mowing and fertilization. Our initial idealistic approach ran into several failures. We soon realized that sheep are very persistent and intelligent animals. Despite protecting the early grapevines with grow tubes, the sheep nudged their way around the protective barriers and started to munch on the tender vines. There were significant losses the first year and attempts to out smart the sheep the following year failed.

The sheep were banished from the vineyard with the intent of bringing them back once the vines have matured and can withstand a little nudging early or late in the season. The vines started to mature and grow only to be set back by the 2012 drought. Many vines needed to be replaced the following year.

Once the vines became established the grape clusters started to form only to succumb to a fungus called black rot. We gave up the idea of having an organic vineyard with the cool moist spring Wisconsin weather.

Four rows of Petite Pearl Vines were planted in 2016. Our planting method differed by using an auger to drill five foot deep holes and lowering the large mares tail root system deep into the earth instead of giving them a trim before planting. This has allowed the crop of Petite Pearl to thrive.

The vineyard was also converted to a vertical shoot positioning design in 2017 to allow the vines to grow up instead of hang down. Fruit grows near the lower cordons and vines and leaves reach for the sun nestled between tightly spaced wire.

We have started to harvest more grapes from the vineyard every year for use at our winery. New threats seem to emerge every year. The newest is the Asian beetle which turns the grape leaves to fine lace by munching on the tempting greens. We are dedicated to our cold hardy Wisconsin vines and will do our best to allow them to grow to bring you great vintages year after year.

Vegetables

Before we became a winery, we started as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm growing all types of organic vegetables for local family shares. When we started our winery, we needed to focus our efforts and decided to grow vegetables only for our weekly farm-to-table dinners. Our CSA customers soon became our dinner guests and were appreciative when we started to do the cooking for them. We continue to follow organic standards in our vegetable production.

Onions and several varieties of potatoes are grown every season and stored at the winery for winter farm-to-table dinners. Butternut squash, decorative gourds and corn are grown to celebrate the Fall season. Tomatoes, zucchini and peppers are started in our greenhouse and transplanted for a feast of summer vegetables. Salad greens, arugula and a variety of herbs and edible flowers compliment Spring time menus.

We have three large field plots with one plot in vegetable production every year. The other plots are planted with Sudan grass and field peas followed by oats. Each plot is rotated every year to improve soil health. Sudan grass is seeded in last year's vegetable plot and can grow up to 12 feet tall. It is mowed at least 2-3 times a year when it reaches 4 feet in height. It’s root system drives deep into the soil to break up compaction layers and add organic matter to the soil. Field peas are seeded where the previous year's Sudan grass stood. The peas allow for nitrogen fixation into the soil and produce beautiful edible flowers for use at our dinners. The peas are mowed mid-season and followed with another cover crop of oats to prevent soil erosion.

All seeding and transplanting is done by hand. Weeds are manually pulled or removed using a stirrup hoe. We harvest late in the week to bring our bounty to our customers at our Friday and Saturday dinners.

Orchard

The field in back of the farmhouse was originally a small vegetable garden and pasture. We started to convert this to our fruit orchard in 2010 with the addition of apple, pear, peach, cherry and plum trees that were planted from saplings. We learned our lesson about curious and hungry sheep from the vineyard and protected each tree with several t-posts and chicken wire surrounding their base. The sheep graze happily on the grass shaded by the fruit trees and are rewarded with an occasional treat of fallen fruit. They, in turn, fertilize the orchard for continued growth.

Sheep

Our sheep are the favorites of the farm despite their occasional mischievous behavior. Our sheep are original Olde English Southdown and the flock varies in number from 10 to 20 each year. They are miniature in comparison to today’s standard breeds. They have cute smiling faces and produce adorable lambs. We rotationally graze the flock in various pastures on the farm. They are mostly grass fed with the occasional handful of grain to encourage them to move from pasture to pasture. The sheep are in charge of keeping the pastures and orchard nicely trimmed and fertilized. They are a very good meat breed that provide subtle lamb flavor and not an overpowering gamey taste.

Lambs are brought in for harvest and used for slow braised lamb shoulder, roast leg of lamb with rosemary and white wine, braised lamb shanks and grilled lamb chops.

Bees

We have partnered with Gentle Breeze honey and have given a few of their hives a home on the farm. The bees travel around the farm and help pollinate our orchard, vineyard, vegetable fields and flowers and in return they provide great honey for our friends at Gentle Breeze.