The story of the winery begins in March of 2014 on a rainy day after I had a less than great week at work. I started researching winery business plans and through the research found that we were lacking a winery in the Stevens Point Area and the surrounding area by about 50 miles at that time. I also knew the owner of Great Northern Distillery, Brian thought it would be an excellent addition to the area and so we started. After a full business plan and many meetings with lawyers and bankers we were secured in the building as well as a winery.
The building was purchased with a small group on October 6th, 2014; including myself and my husband, my Dad and lastly a silent investor. The ground floor had recently been an office space so we needed to renovate to get it back to a manufacturing facility. There were lots of surprises and unknowns; the largest being a 20’ by 8’ section of rotten flooring. So we replaced all the floors and beams and rated it to hold 18,000 pounds. This floor now holds 8 of our 250 gallon stainless steel tanks. After inspections and approvals and permits at the federal, state, county and city level. We started making wine in April 2015. Our soft opening followed shortly after over the Riverfront Rendezvous the weekend of July 4th, 2015.
The logo and name: The name of the winery is a combination of two great locations! My husband and I were married in September of 2013 on Sunset Lake in Amherst. And we both graduated from UWSP with Paper Science degrees, then we both taught at UWSP for the Paper Science Department and lastly we both live now in Stevens Point. So Sunset Point Winery was born. The logo also has special meaning: We are a blended family with five kids, yes – five kids; and because of this there are seven rays in the sun that is setting. The logo was designed by Jennifer Lingard, a high school friend of mine.
The support: No doubt we could have not done this without some AMAZING support! My father, Gary Johnson, managed the winery during the day while we continued with our full time jobs in the paper industry. He literally quit his job to move into our house (away from my Mom) to be our construction manager, winery expert and chief “kid taxi cab” and chef. Later, my mother, Kathy Johnson, retired from the US Postal Service and has been managing the winery ever since. Without the support of our families, on both sides, including our siblings we couldn’t have done this. There are way too many friends to throw on this list as well; and we are truly blessed by great people in our lives. Friends had shown up to wash walls before opening, help us crush grapes the first time and wash the first round of bottles. Many helped us with working long hours ripping down insulation, scrapping tile floors, scrubbing deposits off the floors, and getting our pillar light cleaned and glowing again. And lastly, Great Northern Distillery, who gave us our first order for bulk wine; they released their Wisconsin Brandy in August of 2017.