Our Story

Explore the Green Bay, Wisconsin Wine History of Captain's Walk Winery

The winery is housed in a beautifully preserved Italianate Victorian home originally built by Elisha Morrow. Click here to download a pdf with information about Mr. Morrow.  Read on to learn more about our Green Bay, Wisconsin wine history.

A Brief Green Bay, Wisconsin Wine History Lesson

First there were two brothers,
and then there were two brothers…

The Koehlers

PJ Koehler – Assistant Winemaker & General Manager

Paul J. Koehler (aka PJ) graduated from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in December of 1998 with a B.S. in Human Nutrition and Food Sciences. PJ developed a passion and understanding of the fine wines of the world while growing up and working in the family wine and spirits business. He later completed his Wine Connoisseurs Certification from the Wine Spectator School. After completing college, he found employment in several technical fields such as Quality Assurance, Microbiology and R & D roles for local food and consumer foods companies. Missing the excitement and feeling that he was not utilizing his family-acquired craft skills, he went back to wine. In 2005, after having sampled some fantastic wines from von Stiehl Winery at a charity wine tasting event, he decided to send them a resume. He was later hired and due to the complex nature of the business, they put him to work in various areas of the company. Some of his roles included assisting with winemaking under the guidance of Winemaker Aric Schmiling, while also managing the tasting room, wholesale sales, and off-site tasting events for von Stiehl. In 2006, he helped with the production of what were to become the wines for the yet-to-be-opened Captain’s Walk Winery. In 2007, to further his education, he enrolled in UC Davis’ Winemaking Certification program. In his free time, he enjoys maintaining a small vineyard named after his daughter Marilyn and gardening in his orchard, vegetable patch, and greenhouse. He also enjoys making and serving unique culinary creations as well as action sports such as rollerblading, mountain biking, and snowboarding.

Jim Koehler – Winery Manager

In early 2007, Jim and his brother, PJ, became managers of Captain’s Walk Winery. Their father, Paul, was a wine buyer and educator for Farah Liquor Stores in the Green Bay area for many years, so Jim and PJ grew up with fine wine and food at the dinner table. As young adults, Jim and his brothers developed a strong work ethic while working as stock boys at Valley Liquor Store in DePere under their father’s supervision. Jim eventually became the manager of Valley Liquor, which had become a fine wine destination, and worked with his father until the store closed in early 2007. While attending Georgetown University for two years Jim experienced the cosmopolitan culture of Washington, D.C. There he worked for Marriott campus catering, and built a solid foundation in the hospitality business. He furthered his passion of dance and theatre at University of Wisconsin Green Bay and Stevens Point. In 1998, he graduated from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College with an Associate Degree in Physical Therapy. Jim serves his country as a 20+ year veteran in the US Army Reserve. His passions, in addition to wine include food, history, arts, cross-cultural relations, and travel. Jim and his wife, Michele, have two daughters, Teresa and Sonia.

The Schmilings

Aric and Brad Schmiling entered into the world of wine at ages 8 and 6 when their parents purchased von Stiehl Winery. In 2007, they created Captain’s Walk Winery with a goal of creating a boutique winery with small high quality batches. Steering clear of wine snobs, the brothers assembled a crew that is knowledgeable, but fun. Things fell into place nicely when they hired brothers, PJ and Jim. The Koehlers offer a vast amount of wine knowledge without being stuffy about it.

Aric Schmiling – Winemaker & Co-Owner

In 1995, Aric graduated from the University of Green Bay with a degree in marketing and chemistry, then went on to graduate school at Michigan State University for enology and viticulture, which is the study of winemaking and grape growing. He brought back the knowledge to produce many vinifera varieties as well as French and American hybrids. Aric is not only the winemaker and president of
the company, but also a Parrot Head with hobbies including duck and deer hunting, moving things with his skid steer, and finishing his house. He and his wife, Jamie, have two girls: Karina and Ava.

Brad Schmiling – Marketing & Co-Owner

Brad graduated from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay with a Bachelor of Science in Performing Arts Engineering and Design in 1997. After working in Madison at Electronic Theater Controls, he discovered that life on the road was not for him. He then worked for a sales company in St. Louis. Shortly after moving back to Wisconsin in 1999, Dr. Stiehl suggested to Brad that theatre and wineries weren’t that different: “When it comes to wine, it’s all about romance and putting on a show,” Doc said. After that piece of advice, Brad reentered the family wine business with a showbiz-style focus on event development and branding. He is the vice president of the corporation, and his role in the winery is “to run the business.”

Website by: InsideOut Solutions   Photography by Mike Peters

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