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
Don Thompson – Winery Manager
If you asked Don a few years ago what he would be up to now, he would never have guessed he would be in the wine industry. Don Thompson grew up on a family farm in Stratford, WI and graduated from the U.W. River Falls in 1993 with a major in Animal Science and a minor in Food Science. He married his wife Melissa in 1993 and they moved to Kansas. Don worked on several large hog farms in Kansas and Minnesota over the next several years. He worked his way up the corporate ladder to General Manager. Due to the fact that Melissa and Don worked in the restaurant industry during college and had family members in the industry, they decided to purchase their own business in central Wisconsin. Together, they owned and operated the Red Mill Supper Club in Stevens Point, WI for almost 15 years with their two boys, Dominic and Devin. During this time, Don was very involved in his community and the restaurant industry, serving as treasurer of his church, serving on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association State Board of Directors, and he served as the President of the River Valley Chapter of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. His accolades include receiving the 2013 Central Wisconsin Restaurant Association Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year Award, the 2014 National Restaurant Association Restaurant Neighbor Award, and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association 2015 Mentor of the Year Award. They sold the business in March of 2016 and he again entered the workforce as the Vat Operator and Quality Assurance Technician for Mullins Cheese Company in Knowlton, WI. In July of 2017, Don longed to again be involved in the service industry as he missed working with and managing people, the relationships and rewards that follow them. Don was hired as the Retail and Sales Manager of Captains Walk Winery, which he considers his dream job. As new empty-nesters, Melissa and Don moved to Green Bay and immersed themselves in the wine industry. “It has been a great learning experience and I feel very blessed to be selling a great product, to great people, for great people.”
PJ Koehler – Assistant Winemaker
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 food 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.
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, and 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.”