Timber Hill on the go

Wine from Timber Hill Winery in Milton is available for pickup or delivery.

Timber Hill Winery is bringing the party to its customers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic minimizing social interaction, the Milton-based winery located at 1223 E. Storrs Lake Road is getting creative to bring people together.

“We’ve been doing a lot of our events online still, so that’s been an exciting new change,” owner Amanda Stefl said. “A lot of our events used to bring a big crowd, but now we do game night every Friday night.”

The winery uses Facebook Live to stream the events and alternates between a wine-based bingo game and family feud trivia.

Taking events online — times are posted ahead of time on the winery’s Facebook page and on its website — isn’t the only adaptation Stefl has made to her business during the pandemic.

Timber Hill started a delivery service just over a week ago, which is available in Rock County areas such as Milton, Edgerton and Janesville.

“That’s been going over really well,” Stefl said. “We’re having a couple deliveries everyday.”

Delivery can be purchased on the website, but customers can still come in and buy wine in the store or call or message for pickup.

Stefl said she would even consider keeping the delivery service if it stays popular.

Despite Timber Hill’s best efforts, the pandemic stopped a growing period for the business.

“Things have definitely changed,” Stefl said. “We were seeing a lot of growth in February and the first half of March. The last two weeks of March things were different, but we’ve been trying to adapt as well as we can.”

Gail Nordlof, owner of Northleaf Winery at 232 S Janesville St., has also adapted her business model.

Instead of being open five days a week, Northleaf is now open seven days a week. Orders also can be made online: on the website, on Vinoshipper, by instant message or email.

Like Timber Hill, Northleaf is delivering to cars outside the business, a feature put in place to help business during the outbreak.

Still, to-go orders don’t bring in as much revenue as big gatherings at wineries.

“But, we feel fortunate to be open at all,” Nordlof said. “Our goal is to be able to still be open when this is all over.”

It’s been the locals that have helped the wineries stay open during the tough stretch.

“It means a lot,” Nordlof said. “Like I said, our core business is a lot of local people.

“We’ve had people come in and say, ‘I’ve never been here before, but I’m supporting local.’”

“It’s amazing how people are really showing their support and supporting local businesses,” Stefl said. “I knew we had such a great community before this and a lot of them have stepped up and shown their support in multiple ways. It’s great encouragement as a small business owner.”

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