Roots, Vines, Fruit & Wine

Dodge County is home to Edwin Brix Vineyard owned by Marty (pictured) and Chris Sell.

Dodge County abounds with agricultural landscape.

Drive for any distance in Dodge County and you are sure to find fields of corn, soybeans and wheat. And, those who drive on a back-country road just south of Juneau may even discover a vineyard.

It is a surprise to many that Dodge County is home to Edwin Brix Vineyard and winery. With the first grapes being planted in 2010, Marty and Chris Sell have been slowly growing their vineyard that produces nearly 5,000 bottles of wine a year with grapes grown in the vineyard.

Shortly after getting married, the couple purchased the farmstead that had been in the family since 1893 from Marty’s father.

Following a 2008 trip to the Napa Valley region in California, the Sells began researching the feasibility of starting a boutique winery in Wisconsin. They found mentors to help them, joined area grape-growing associations and learned that the drumlin land formations on their property, left by glaciers that traversed Dodge County, made for ideal grape growing soil conditions.

Slowly, the Sells expanded their crop. They started with six rows of vines and now have 50 rows of grapes.

With the growth, Edwin Brix Vineyard remained grounded in its roots. Early on, a conscious decision was made to make their wine from locally grown grapes.

The Sells prioritized the agricultural aspect, distinguishing themselves as a vineyard. Historically, the land on which the vineyard is now planted was farmed by Marty’s grandparents and great-grandparents. While the crop that is cultivated has changed, the connection to family remains strong.

Putting family first and having the right tribe, two of the Blue Zones Project Power 9 principles, is what continues to drive the Sell Family.

As a child, Marty Sell recalls how neighbors worked cooperatively on his grandparents’ farm. He recalls threshing grain and raising barns together, then celebrating the accomplishments with grand meals and barn dances. Wine-making has brought him back to those days.

Edwin Brix Vineyard puts out an open invitation for people to join them in hand harvesting the grapes each fall. Family, friends, neighbors and strangers come to help, some coming from as far away as Chicago and Michigan.

“There’s a reason for people to get together to socialize,” Sell said. “We’ve gotten to know some of our neighbors well because they have come to pick grapes or bottle wine and have become good friends. It has been wonderful.”

Marty and Chris Sell enjoy sharing the fruits of their labor as well. The Power 9 principle Wine at Five highlights the importance of slowing down and connecting with others.

In Sardinia, one of the original Blue Zones areas, locals enjoy happy hour with friends and family regularly and often with a local high-antioxidant wine called Cannonau.

The Sells mimic this practice. Marty Sell said, “When we do private tastings, we get to know about the people and their families and taste some wine in the process.”

Edwin Brix hopes to be a destination that people enjoy coming to. It provides a great place for people to share their lives and connect with one another. Learn more about the Sell Family and their local vineyard by visiting their website edwinbrix.com.

To learn more about Blue Zones Project visit dodgecounty.bluezonesproject.com. Call 920-212-8511 or e-mail bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@sharecare.com with questions.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through improvements to a city’s environment, policies, and social networks. The project has been brought to Dodge County by Beaver Dam Community Hospital. Blue Zones Project is a division of Sharecare. For more information, visit bluezonesproject.com.