Campo di Bella

Winery Dining Farm Lodging Acetaia


Artisan Traditional Red Wine Vinegar

Production of artisan red wine vinegar is a long and complex process. At Campo di Bella, we harvest grapes from our vineyard and through other local producers to produce red wine. Grapes are hand harvested when they reach a sugar content of 20-22% brix. They are the crushed, de-stemmed and pressed to produce a natural grape juice. Wine yeast is added to allow for conversion of sugar to alcohol through the process of fermentation. The initial fermentation process requires the absence of oxygen. The wine is transferred to French Oak barrels in our cellar where a vinegar mother is added allowing conversion of alcohol to acetic acid through the action of a bacteria called Acetobacter aceti. The rate of conversion of alcohol to acetic acid is partly dependent on temperature. Acetobacter are active from 59F to the low 90s. Our cellar temperatures are in the low 70s to upper 60s in late Summer and early Fall, just in time for grape harvest and vinegar production. We are hopeful that the lower temperatures will allow for a more gradual conversion of alcohol to vinegar to allow for the development of more complex flavors. Acetobacter require the presence of oxygen to do its job. Thus, our barrels are partially filled to allow for air space at the top. The barrels are laid on their side and bung holes are left open to the air but covered with a layer of cheese clothto allow for air circulations. In addition to imparting subtle oak flavor to the vinegar, the barrels allow for slow evaporation and concentration of the vinegar to produce a more flavorful product. The entire process takes several months to complete. We started our vinegar production in 2018 with our 2017 vintage of red wine made primarily from Frontenac grapes, a cold hardy French-American Hybrid.

We follow the traditional method of vinegar production originally found in Orleans France. The Orleans method developed in the middle ages when wine was transported up the Loire river from the Southern wine growing region to Paris. Barrels of wine were unloaded in Orleans and those that had “soured” were kept in Orleans to produce vinegar. Wine that had successfully survived the journey continued North to Paris. During peak production of artisinal vinegar, there were approximately 300 vinaigriers in France where only 1 remains to date. We hope to carry on this artisinal tradition at our winery in South Central Wisconsin.

We hope to offer our barrel aged traditional red wine vinegar for sale at the winery in early 2020. We are also exploring the option selling our vinegar at a local area Farmer’s market starting in Spring.