Tom began making wine over 45 years ago. The basement of his home in Greenville had served as a winery including stainless steel sinks, temperature controlled fermentation room, and of course a wine cellar.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy his thirst for a vineyard & winery. In the fall of 2011 he and his wife Holly purchased 13 acres of land in the township of Hortonia. An 1800’s Dairy Barn on the property was perfect for renovating into a unique tasting room, winery, and event venue.
From Winery to Event Venue
Our original Business Plan was to become a Vineyard, and a Winery. As we began our barn renovation, people starting calling us and asking: “Do you do weddings?” We thought, why not? This will help to pay our bills until we have our own estate wines to sell. We ended up booking every weekend except one from May through October during our first year without even advertising. Our 2000 grapevines were maturing, and now we were ready to apply for our Winery Permit, so Whistler could begin making estate wines. We had all of our equipment purchased, and the winery was ready to go. In the State of WI, once you apply for a Winery Permit, you must give up your liquor license, AND wineries must close at 9:00 pm. We quickly realized that IF we began making estate wines, all of our business would go away! Who would book a wedding if their guests couldn’t even have an Old Fashion, and everyone would have to leave at 9:00 pm? Because of that, we decided to sell our grapes each fall to other wineries, and continue operating as an event venue.
Holly is a Master Gardener and has meticulously landscaped and planted gardens all around the property. During the summer months you will see hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumble bees (her FAVORITE) flitting in and out of the blooms in Holly’s Wine Garden. And guests are always welcome to sip a glass of wine while touring our gardens.
What We Grow
People are often surprised to learn that grapes can be successfully grown in Wisconsin. We planted cold hearty varietals such as Marquette, Marechal Foch, Frontenac Gris, Prairie Star, and Niagara. They are thriving in the sandy loam soil here. In addition, we have an Elderberry Orchard because Tom makes an amazing Elderberry Wine. Our grapevines need to grow a couple years yet before we begin to harvest and make our own estate wines. While we are waiting, we are serving wines that are purchased through our Beverage Distributors.
We recognize the numerous benefits of sustainable farming and adhere to the following principles:
- Reduce our dependence on fossil fuels
- Lesson our usage of chemicals and synthetic substances that accumulate in nature
- Respect wildlife
- Minimize our encroachment on nature (land, air, woodlands, and wetlands)
- Always be a good neighbor
- Support our communities basic needs
Bluebird nest boxes were installed in Whistler’s Vineyard. A volunteer from the Bluebird Restoration Association of WI (BRAW) monitors them weekly throughout the breeding season to keep track of how many eggs and how many hatchlings. These friendly and beautiful birds help us keep the pests under control.
Our flock of “free range” Heirloom Chickens are pets and all have names. They roam the vineyard and eat bugs, fertilize our grapevines, and entertain our guests. They have been known to participate in photo shoots during and after wedding ceremonies in Whistler’s Vineyard!
We compost, recycle, and re-purpose as much as possible. Our gardens include native perennials because they provide nectar for pollinators and the plants require less maintenance once established. Our property has also earned the distinction of being a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF.)
We are a “legal” Event Barn
Our barn has been inspected by the Industry Services Division of the State of Wisconsin, Department of Safety and Professional Services. What that means, is we have followed the proper procedures to assure the safety of our guests.
Take a virtual tour of our barn!
Donation Request Form
Whistler’s Knoll is committed to supporting our community and the neighborhood we live in. Our goal is to fulfill as many requests as we possibly can. Because of the high number of inquiries, we regret that we are unable to fulfill all requests and sincerely hope you understand that.
Anyone seeking a donation must complete a donation request form.