As I turned off County Road B onto an unpaved dirt road with placards warning visitors of a highly concentrated population of honey bees, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when arriving at White Wolf Distillery/Clover Meadow Winery. Entering the modest building, it's side draped in plastic sheeting, I passed through a charming event space littered with tables and a small stage, on the way towards a tiny tasting room in the back.
I settled up to the single seat bar, the tables in the room being occupied by two separate groups of women, as James, The Sommelier, offered me samples of their various moonshines, brandys, balsamic vinegars and flavored olive oils. Being the only dudes in a room full of women, James and I got to talking for quite awhile, mostly about jerky, after I discovered that he had worked for Jack Link's for several years. Jarbys. After indulging in a second round of moonshine tasting follwed by James' experiment in scent-pairing, wherein I was handed a fragrant vile to smell immediately before and after tasting a wine, I inquired about seeing the still. James pointed me towards the owner, Pat, who sat just a few feet away, quitely strumming House of the Rising Sun on his guitar, certainly the best song from The Animals.
Pat, who was born and raised in Chicago and holds five undergraduate degrees and two masters degrees in mathematics, physics, biochemistry and so forth, was quick to inform me that their business and property was entirely self-sustaining "in the event the world goes to shit." He walked me outside to a shed which housed the still, handmade by himself, and of very unassuming size, especially having visited the Bourbon Trail. After explaining that some of the products from the still could be used to power his self-modified equipment, he offered to show me his battery room, a small ten foot by ten foot structure next to the still shed that contained forty eight car batteries which stored the energy produced by the three wind turbines and solar panels mounted atop the roof. I thanked James, Pat and his wife for everything before I departed, rhubarb moonshine in tow, watching the sun set over the rolling hills of northern Wisconsin as I headed back down that dirt road towards the cabin.