July 2012

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live in a man's world Alwyn Fitzgerald Wining and dining with a local flair By Jessica Fecteau For Alwyn Fitzgerald, it was a now-or-never opportunity. As his days in the corporate world ticked along, he began contemplating what he wanted the tail end of his career to offer. For him, it was the chance to close out his career with a hearty "cheers!" After 35 years of working for others, the 54-year-old set out on his own, opening the doors of Fisher King Winery last September to fulfill his real passion: wine making. It's a love affair rooted in his upbringing—his European parents always had wine on the dinner table—which led to a hobby of wine making for years. By blending together his family roots with his bountiful education in biology and business, he now brings his lo- cally made and bottled wines to the tables of his urban winery. Sprouting from the quaint streets of downtown Mount Horeb, this is Fitzgerald's pride and joy. While wines age in the back before being bottled on-site, a bistro-style atmosphere greets customers out front. Add to his cozy winery colorful, and lo- cal, art on the walls, a full schedule of entertainment and a fridge stocked with Wisconsin-made cheeses and meats, and you can see Fitzgerald isn't just feeding his customers, he's doing what he says feeds his soul. You maintained a corporate job for 35 years. What inspired you to open a winery now? The last thing I wanted to do was get old and have regrets. I have been making wine all my life and it was kind of woven into our per- sonal family culture. It was nice to have the corporate job and the security, but they don't really feed the soul as much. The latter part of my career I wanted to do something more for me and have fun with it. How has it been transitioning from a corporate position to running your own business? It's a lot easier in some ways to work for someone else. Everything is steady and pretty comforting; one should not discount that. But it's fulfilling and satisfying to have your own business. If you don't like something the boss says or does, you just look at the boss in the mirror and say, "What the heck were you thinking?" Were you nervous about starting your own business? It's a start-up business, so everyone is a little nervous. You take a risk when you do something like this—especially in this economy. I consider my wife a partner in this. If it weren't for the support and involvement of her, we wouldn't have this winery here. Quick Questions with Fitzgerald Best Wisconsin cheese and wine pairing? Go! Cabernet and Pleasant Ridge Greer. 24 If you could teleport to one winery right now, where would it be? Wherever there is good wine! But I love Rockford Wines in the Barossa Valley. BRAVA Magazine July 2012 What is your personal favor- ite wine? Our Sesquicentennial Red Wine. It goes great with steak. What is the most popular wine season? I am predicting fall to be our peak season. Where did the name of your winery come from? The Fisher King is a character in many fictional books I've read. He's come to grow on me. So be honest—do you get to sip wine all day? The tasting of wine is absolutely as valid of criteria as creating a good wine, so I will taste it. But I almost always spit out after I'm done because I have to function. You know I'd never get anything done if I just drank wine all the time. You've chosen to open your winery in a community that really supports local businesses, and you've been outspoken about bringing in other locally produced goods. What here is Wisconsin-made? The art on our walls is by local artists. We have local bands play shows on Friday nights. The cheese, sausage, chocolates, crackers and wine accessories all come mainly from Wisconsin. But most importantly, we make our wine with local grapes. What is your favorite part of the wine-making process? The end, when there's a crowd of people in here and they're enjoy- ing my wine and it's a social place to gather. ••• Photo by Shanna Wolf

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