Today is an exciting day for Leavenworth residents as Tuscany, Bordeaux and Napa Valley converge in a new winery downtown.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com

Today is an exciting day for Leavenworth residents as Tuscany, Bordeaux and Napa Valley converge in a new winery downtown.
Z&M Twisted Vines Wines and Winery opens at 620 Cherokee St. The owners, Bryan and Gina Zesiger, are enthusiastic to be joining the downtown Leavenworth community. They are hosting a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Wine tastings, live music and a visit from Twisted Taters food truck will be included in the celebration. Trick-or-treaters will be welcomed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Traveling with the military, Bryan developed a love of wine from around the world. Gina grew up in an Italian family with a long history of wine making.
“Wine is something that we both loved in our own lives before we met and has only gotten better as we have set off on this twisted journey,” says Bryan.
“Wine became a passion project for us,” says Gina. “Something we worked on, brainstormed about and began to create amazing flavors and combinations that we had only dreamed of.”

From their first date, is was clear that they had a shared love of great wine.
“We got the crazy idea that maybe we could make our own,” says Gina. “We had no idea that what started out as something to meet our own wishes would turn into something much bigger. Our love for wine is much like our love of life – traditional meets a modern flare. Our love for great wine collided with our passion to try new things and explore the twisted side of our taste buds. We love twisting flavors and seeing what amazing things we can create. The more wine we made, the more people loved our flavors and wanted to try it.”

The wine is handcrafted in small batches and the Zesigers use a combination of locally sourced produce and produce grown in their own vineyard.
“We are passionate about living local, buying local and drinking local,” says Bryan. “Our vineyard is a magical place. We use eco-friendly, responsible practices to ensure that we are providing a high-quality product, as naturally as possible.”
They believe that they are lucky to have land to call their own and it is important for them to take care of it and respect it.

“We know that by taking care of our land and produce we are able to create wine that is unlike anything on the market. We know that when you care about what you are doing and produce a high-quality product it speaks for itself. Being the winemakers, we are closely involved with the process from purchase and growing of produce to the winemaking. This involvement allows us to offer a better handcrafted product.”
The vineyard is equipped with a specialized irrigation system that is replenished by rain water, which the Zesigers say minimizes their footprints. No harsh chemicals are used and the couple has learned that the best tool for keeping weeds out is by spreading newspapers.

The wine is crafted and bottled on sight at the store.
They will host private Prohibition Bottling Parties where groups of up to 20 people can participate.

“Our original stone cellar dates to 1876. It would be a crime not to put it to good use,” says Bryan. “Our Prohibition Bottling Parties will provide an intimate setting to learn about the winemaking and bottling process. Party goers get to experience the bottling process first-hand and leave the party with the wine they bottled. Our Secret Prohibition Cellar is also home to our Secret Cellar Gatherings, but you’ll have to know the code to learn more about that.”

The Zesigers believe that hard work is essential to a good life.
Bryan’s military background and Gina’s Italian roots have given them a long history of believing that with hard work they can create something to be proud of.
“Growing our own grapes is an extension of this belief,” says Gina. “We know that the work we put into our crops matters. This is the same way we feel about purchasing our produce from local farmers whenever possible. We know that there are many hard-working farmers in our community who have high quality produce available. It only makes sense that we would take advantage of the amazing resources that are in our backyard. We believe in this community.”

Each batch is handled with care at the perfect temperature, bottled and stored in the perfect environment and checked on regularly by the cellar masters.
Their wines are inspired by their life experiences and will change as the available produce and seasons change.

Experiences from Bryan’s time in the military show up on the labels and flavors. They have three specialty lines of wine: Farm to Table offers a fresh, earthy feel that refreshes the palate.

“This line has wines ranging from our classic Harvest Moon white wine, to our more twisted Slice of Pie wine, which plays on everything there is to love about fall and pumpkin pie,” says Bryan.
Blacked Out offers rugged, coffee-inspired notes, which Bryan says will re-define your palate for coffee and plays with the combination of wine and coffee in a mouth-watering way.

Burlesque is a dessert wine which is described by the Zesigers as a vibrant, silky and sexy wine that is also a little ‘dangerous.’
“Check out the labels to understand Burlesque. It’s a perfect treat to end the night with the sweet tastes of chocolate,” he said. “Each line of wine purposefully represents who we are.”

Bryan and Gina believe the secret to good wine is in their willingness to twist the rules. And they don’t follow trends because they believe great wines and great winemakers aren’t afraid to step outside what has always been done in a quest for amazing wine.
“We aren’t afraid to live a little twisted,” says Bryan.
For those who are skeptical of trying “twisted” wines, Bryan and Gina say they are normal people who drink unusual wine and they will gladly help introduce the right vino for their individual customers.

“This isn’t a snobby wine bar, this is a true Midwestern Farm to Table wine experience,” says Gina. “We are real people who want to drink fun wine. All the normal rules that people think apply about wine might not apply here.”
Wine tastings and other events will be something they offer regularly to give customers the opportunity to experience unique flavors.
“We are excited to be directly across from Haymarket Square,” says Bryan. “We have been welcomed by everyone we have had a chance to talk and share our story with.”
The winery’s website is www.ZMtwistedwines.com and it is on Facebook at Z&M Twisted Vines Wines and Winery.