Summary: Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery is a family-run winery that has been opened for six years and won three double gold medals in competition. With the largest winery vineyard in Wisconsin and a determination to create quality wines, Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery will go far. The winery is open every day except holidays and has 60,000 visitors each year.
Entering along the driveway between vineyards to the Simon Creek tasting room is a delightful experience. The tasting room opened in 2003 and provides a large tasting counter and retail area. Just off of the tasting room, a large deck provides a scenic view of vineyards and Simon Creek. Contemplate purchasing a glass of wine and enjoying it on the deck.
We met Tim Lawrie, owner, who is passionate about winemaking and discovered this passion for winemaking quite by accident. Prior to becoming involved in a winery, Lawrie had served 26 years in the military retiring as a colonel. He worked for a Texas energy company for an additional six years.
Originally Lawrie’s daughter, a real estate agent, discovered the property for sale. Lawrie decided to purchase the property sight unseen as a potential investment. On weekends he began to plant grapevines.
Remodeling the Kitchen
Lawrie became interested in winemaking due to remodeling his kitchen at home. While the kitchen in his home was being remodeled, they needed to move out of the house for three months. He began reading and learning about growing grapes. His acquisition of the farm property gave him the opportunity to begin experimenting with the different grapes to grow on the property.
He liked the property so much he decided to keep it and thus began the concept of a vineyard. With 34 acres of grapevines on the 120-acre farm, Simon Creek has the largest winery vineyard in Wisconsin. Grapevines include Chardonal, Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, Espirit, Leon Millot and Traminette. Currently the winery produces 7,500 cases and they hope to grow to 15,000 cases when the vineyards have matured.
In the winery, Tom Payette is the consultant winemaker. Tom was named "Winemaker of the Year" in 1999 by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine. Lance Nelson, Lawrie’s son-in-law, is the onsite winemaker. Cleanliness is important and everything in the production area is steam cleaned before and after use. Simon Creek Winery produces four red wines, five white wines and five specialty wines.
We stopped at the tasting counter to try several wines. The Untouchable Red wine was named because of Al Capone’s connection with the farm. It is believed that Al Capone visited the farmhouse on the property. The Untouchable Red wine, with a residual sugar of 2 ½ percent had a spice aroma with cherry notes. The taste was fruity while the fruity finish was crisp with mild tannins. American Golden Muscat with 3 percent residual sugar offered an orange aroma with a smooth orange taste. The wine dried on the finish. Door County Cherry Wine was all about cherries. The aroma was of Montmorency cherries and the taste was very cherry. The crisp finish had a cherry aftertaste. The Alexa Cerise was made from Sweet Baylaton cherries and aged for up to two years. The resulting higher alcohol wine had a cherry aroma and taste. The dry finish had no heat; the wine was not fortified.
The long tasting bar overlooks windows down into the winery. Before or after a wine tasting, take time to browse the tastefully decorated tasting room. Tim’s daughter is responsible for the delightful decorating of the area. It is comfortable and customer friendly. Gourmet foods including Wisconsin cheese, crackers, jam and salsa are available. Browse ceramic dishes, stemware, wine accessories and clothing. The tasting room also has a fireplace that will be perfect on a cold winter day. A comfortable seating area is a perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine.
Simon Creek Vineyard and Winery
5896 Bochek Road
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin 54235
GPS: N44º 57.512’ W87º 16.290’