On the second Sunday morning in April, Trillium Creek Winery signs popped up along Key Peninsula roads like spring blossoms. This was exactly right because after a dormant winter, completing the tasting room, establishing the cellar and tending the vineyard, the winery bloomed.
Owners Claude and Claudia Gahard hardly expected the parade of customers that arrived that first day. Undaunted, they divided the guests into tour and tasting groups and gave their full attention to every visitor.
The tours strolled between two separate vineyards, labeled and neatly pruned,along a wandering foot path and over a wooden bridge that crosses Trillium Creek. The trilliums, of course, were in full bloom for the occasion. Before returning to the tasting room, the tours stopped in the subterranean cellar to admire the controlled atmosphere protected by one-foot-thick concrete walls and an earth-covered roof.
Inside the tasting room, guests admired the fir beam supports and natural woodwork textures, all from lumber harvested out of the vineyard. At the counter, they were told a history of winemaking around the Peninsula and tasted an original recipe for Island Belle. Guests were introduced to the new fruit wines, which are produced in partnership with Fairview Acres near Delano Bay. Surprise was a common response to the dignified and delicious tastes of wines made from the berries, fruits and rhubarb grown on the Peninsula. A blended wine, Seigerrebe-Quince, won the popularity honors and may become a signature wine for Trillium Creek. The tasting concluded with the more complex wines from Pinot Noir and Muller Thurgau grapes.
Guests bought their favorites and it was no secret that the artistic label further enhanced enthusiasm for their purchases. Like most of the products featured at the winery, the labels were designed and produced locally. Artist Chuck Kraft, the “Sign Man” of Vaughn, created the label and NorthWoods Graphics, in Purdy, produced them.
The delight of guests was obvious as they took photos and stayed much longer than they expected. The pleasure between guests and hosts was reciprocal. It especially delighted the Gahards to see the fruit of their labor become a desired commodity. They enjoyed the surprises of dry wine connoisseurs who loved fruit wines. But a favorite story was the one about a young man, suspected to be a Budweiser aficionado, becoming a Trillium Creek wine convert.