Chicago family opens Wisconsin winery on sheep farm

A Chicago family traded in the big city to crush grapes.

If you’re old enough to remember the old Green Acres TV show, you might know how that story unfolds.

Shaun and Maria Lapacek moved their family to Poynette, Wisconsin. Shaun worked tirelessly to turn his father’s sheep farm into a winery.

“All sheep poo is really good nitrogen for grapes,” Shaun joked.

Turns out the rocky ground was also a win.

“We also saw that there were a lot of vineyards in the Midwest and the industry was growing. Michigan has a lot of vineyards, Illinois has vineyards, and Wisconsin now also has a lot of vineyards,” said Mary.

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They named their business Rock N’ Wool Winery. But it wasn’t all green pastures at first.

“The grapes don’t ripen for five years after they’ve been planted, so imagine you invest this significant amount of money, hope and faith in this business and it will be five years before you even see or don’t reap any rewards at all,” Shaun says.

The couple grew their business, using only Wisconsin grapes, into an award-winning dream. Family is intimately tied to business, which is why everyone from their daughters to their parents are on the labels. They even tap into free labor, offering neighbors a bottle of wine when they help with the bottling.

“You have to have realistic expectations. And you have to know what you’re getting into and do the math before you jump in,” Maria said.

“Dreams are wonderful. They’re amazing. They keep you going, but you also have to have the courage to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to make it,'” Shaun said.

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“I’m only 18. I look so old now because of the creation of a winery,” Shaun added with a smile.

Rock N’ Wool Winery is located two and a half hours from Chicago. To discover the farm, go here: www.rocknwoolwinery.com.