Winery has deep roots in Milton
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For more information about Northleaf Winery, visit www.northleafwinery.com or call (608) 580-0575.
MILTON Northleaf Winery is a combination of old and new—new business, new wine, old building and even older tradition.
That's just how owner Gail Nordlof likes it. The Milton Township woman, who started the winery with her husband, John, has an appreciation for history and tradition but is excited about her new adventure, she said.
"This is really the hardest, scariest, funnest thing I've ever done," she said.
The winery, 232 S. Janesville St., opened for business Wednesday after years of planning and remodeling.
The building started as a wheat warehouse built by John Alexander in 1850. It has since housed a garage, a car dealership and possibly a blacksmith shop. Many still know it is as the Sunnyview Orchard, which sold apples and cider from the 1940s to the 1980s.
Northleaf's signature wines, John Alexander Warehouse White and Sunnyview Orchard Blush, reflect the building's past. Bottles of Sunnyview Orchard even will come in bags from the orchard until they run out.
Visitors will see the original wooden rafters and beams and unique lime mortar walls. The Nordlofs also built an addition where they make the wine.
Gail plans to start offering tours in March, she said.
"The tours are as much about the building as they are about wine," she said.
She has plenty of other ideas for the business, too. She plans to start a wine club that will have exclusive access to a small-batch series of wine. The winery will be available for events, including private parties and charity fundraisers, she said.
Northleaf offers wine tasting Wednesday through Sunday and sells cheese, chocolates, crackers and gift baskets in addition to its six wine varieties. Gail plans to continually add more flavors, she said.
"I like to do different kinds, try different things," she said.
Experimenting with wine comes naturally to Gail. Her father and grandfather both made wine, and she grew up fascinated as she watched the balloon inflate and deflate on top of a container of fermenting wine.
She made her own wine for years before she and her husband decided to start the winery. The process of renovating and licensing took about twice as long as she expected, but it was worth it, she said.
"It's fun work," she said.