Established on a knoll in the rustic range of Hortonville, Holly Boettcher and her husband Tom (better known as “Whistler” to family) have created an event venue like no other. What started out as a winery in an old barn has transformed into a beautiful vineyard setting for all affairs. Whistler’s Knoll Vineyard has hosted numerous weddings, as well as corporate and community events.
Tom had been making wine for 40 years. As they were approaching retirement, Holly and Tom decided to plant a vineyard and create a winery after revamping an abandoned farm. Because of legal reasons though, Holly and Tom decided to continue their project as an event venue rather than a winery as they would no longer be able to serve liquor and would have to close at 9pm at all events, including weddings. “People think we’re a winery, but we are a vineyard,” Holly says. “We do grow grapes and sell grapes, but we are an event venue. So we don’t have tasting room hours, but rather events where we may have tastings. We would have lost of a lot business if we continued as a winery…#canthaveboth!”
Holly and Tom are used to thinking creatively. A tornado that swept through Hortonville in 2013 caused a lot of distress to the community, including at Whistler’s Knoll. Many of the 200-year-old red oak trees that adorn the vineyard were ripped from the ground. “Whistler built a lot of the furniture with those trees. We were still so grateful that the barn was still standing.” Holly and Tom’s perseverance has paid off greatly as Whistler’s Knoll is currently booked into 2019 for weddings, corporate meetings and team-building events. While working closely with the State Department Division of Industry Services, the legally-certified event barn has been a surprise for many.
“People are always surprised when they come to our property. They say, ‘Oh my gosh I had no idea this was here!’” Holly says. “And when people come into the barn they spin in circles and are amazed by the original theme. They love our restrooms too.”
Coming up on the calendar of unique events, the Vintage Market at the Vineyard on Sunday, September 18 will feature vintage and handmade goods of central Wisconsin artists. The Market will open at 10am. Food trucks will be around from 10am– 3pm. Attend a Fashion Show in the barn at noon and get crafty at the chalk paint demonstration at 1pm. Admission is free, but be sure to hang out at the cash bar – they will be selling their famous Bloody “Merrys.”
Speaking of bloodies, Whistler’s Bloody Merry Sundays are a monthly event not to be missed. The next is scheduled for September 25. Drop in anytime from 11am-3pm and enjoy Whistler’s famous Bloody “Merrys” mixed from scratch. Beer, mixed drinks and a selection of wines will also be available.
On Friday, September 23 and October 21, Whistler’s Knoll will be hosting Pizza Nights in the Vineyard. Starting at 5pm, dig into some wood-fired pizza made with Neenah-based Broken Tree Pizza’s mobile oven. Reservations are not needed as drop-ins are welcome.
Apart from the great wine and fun events, Whistler’s Knoll is a place outside of our busy lives where one can relax and enjoy nature. “When you look out on our patio,” Holly says, “you can see the view for five miles. We have lots of bluebirds and hummingbirds all over. Honeybees and bumble bees and a lot of butterflies.” All among 2,000 grape vines.