2003 Press Release
Door County's Newest Winery Open For Business
Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery has completed construction and opened for business on Thursday, June 26, 2003.
Simon Creek Winery is a state of the art wine producing facility, which will be the most modern and technologically advanced winery in the mid west United States. The 11,000 square foot winery will have a capacity of producing over 15,000 cases of the finest quality wines each year, making it one of the largest wineries in Wisconsin. The wine producing area will feature the most modern equipment available, to include: 36,000 gallons of stainless steel wine storage tanks; a bottling line capable of filling, corking, labeling and placing foil caps on bottles at an astounding rate of 25 bottles per minute. All of the equipment is imported from Italy. Initially the winery will vint Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Ruby Cabernet (also called Untouchable Red), Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Port (also called Jacksonport), Golden Muscat and Cherry wines. As the vineyards mature an additional 15 varieties will be added.
With over 30 acres planted, Simon Creek’s vineyards are the largest in Wisconsin and amongst the largest in the entire Midwest. As the pioneer of commercial grape growing in Door County, Simon Creek is growing twenty varieties of the finest wine quality vinifera and hybrid grapes. At maturity, in 3 to 4 years, the vines will produce 200 to 250 tons of grapes; enough to make 50,000 gallons of wine.
The 11,000 square foot winery, taste room and retail area is situated next to a 125-year old barn atop a knoll overlooking Simon Creek and Pond. Guests are welcome to free tours, which feature instruction in the entire winemaking process from grape harvest to vinting, bottling, and storage. Complimentary wine tasting is offered in the beautifully appointed taste room, which overlooks the wine storage and production area. Guest’s are able to relax on the open deck overlooking the vineyards and Simon Creek Pond while enjoying a bottle of wine, cheese and sausage purchased at the farm market within the winery.
The state of the art winery was constructed by Keller Structures of Kaukauna. Project financing was arranged through Greg Stephan and Associated Bank. Winery equipment to include bottling lines and tanks, which are all manufactured in Italy, was provided by Prospero Equipment Incorporated.
Principles in the development of Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery include Tim Lawrie, Lance Nelson and Tom Payette. Simon Creek founder, Tim Lawrie is a retired Army officer and energy development executive. He served his country as an Army Infantry Airborne soldier for 26 years and retired at the rank of Colonel. He volunteered for two combat tours in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He later became a partner in an international power project development firm. Most recently he has been a consultant for NBC, MSNBC and Canadian Broadcast Company appearing on numerous network and local news shows.
Lance Nelson who joined Simon Creek in June 2002, has an extensive management and marketing background having been associated with several large corporations to include Nabisco and Pepsi Bottling Group. He supervised the construction of Simon Creek Winery and as General Manager will be responsible for the day to day operation of the winery and vineyard.
Tom Payette is one of the best-known and knowledgeable winemakers in the US. In 1999 he had the honor of being selected as “Winemaker of the Year” by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine. With over 15 years of experience in the wine industry, he has been associated with many of the country’s largest and most successful wineries.
“Lance Nelson, Tom Payette, myself and our families are extremely proud of Simon Creek Winery and Vineyards. They are a wonderful compliment to the beauty of Door County. They are sure to be a must see for our many county visitors”, according to Simon Creek founder, Tim Lawrie. “With our work in grape production we hope to create a new agricultural industry in Door County” commented Lance Nelson. “Simon Creek is one of the finest wineries in the U.S., it surely ranks among the most beautiful” added winemaker Tom Payette.
The new winery will be open daily from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.