In Search Of…Local Winery 7-07-05


Blair resident John Gill knows wine. “It’s sort of in my jeans.” His great grandfather used to make it…and John
himself made his ‘first’ batch when he was just a teen. “I was kind of bored in high school with nothing to do and I
was reading about wine and I went to my chemistry teacher who was also my football coach and I said coach I’d like to
make wine and he said ‘cool.’ That’s how I got started and I’ve been making wine on and off ever since.”

But making wine has always been just a hobby…unitl a few years ago when life threw John a little curve ball. “I’m
65 years old and vice president of my firm and making way more money than I was worth and I got downsized.”

But for John, the glass is always half full. And when one door closed, another one flew wide open. In May of 2004,
that little hobby became his new career. “We’re now a class “A” winery in the eyes of Wisconsin and the federal

The Tenba Ridge Winery offers 18 different kinds of wine, 3 reds, 3 whites, a blush and 10 varieties of fruit
wine. “We’ve got strawberry and cherry and black current and cranberry. So I have to ask, which one is your
favorite? Oh boy, that’s like asking which of the kids you like best.”

The ingredients come from all over the world. “Our white wine materials are from Germany…”

Each wine takes anywhere from 6 months to two years to process before it’s ready to be bottled and John is behind
each and every step.

A visit to Tenba Ridge includes lots of tasting and even a lesson or two. “I’m gonna take some wine, slush it
around in my mouth, swallow it and then exhale. That’s nice.”

“My wife and I wrote a mission statement when we started this. We wanted to increase our level of gracious living
and we did that. So a few years ago we wrote a new one, we wanted to increase the level of gracious living for other
people that weren’t having as much fun as we were. So sitting on the terrace, sipping wine, it increases your level
of gracious living.”

We went in search of…a man with a taste for the good life. We found him.

Tours: Upon Request.

Tastings: Fee for tasting, forgiven with wine purchase.

Open May-December, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Always best to call ahead, however. Visits at
other times can be scheduled when mutually convenient.

If you would like more information on the Tenba Ridge Winery, give them a call at (608) 525-2413.