Desk Job:

Laurie (Tines), ’06, and Frank Peregrine

Proprietors, Cambridge Winery


by Sara Woelfel
Photos by Bryce Richter
 
On any given day, Laurie and Frank Peregrine might be harvesting grapes in their vineyard, entertaining wedding guests at their event center, discussing their personal wine blend with visitors, sampling the latest small-plate creations from the tasting room kitchen, or winding through the streets of their growing residential and commercial development. After decades of sitting behind desks, their workspaces today are much more fluid and the work at hand brings more palpable—and palatable—satisfaction as both bring their natural gifts and life experiences to the table.

The couple met at work more than three decades ago and, since then, have partnered both in life and in business. Self-proclaimed serial entrepreneurs, the Peregrines most recently owned CustomCall Data Systems, a Madison-based telecommunications billing services company which they sold in 2014. As they transitioned from that work, the couple pivoted to their latest business ventures: Cambridge Winery (one of about 130 wineries in Wisconsin)—including a tasting room, event center, and vineyard in Cambridge, Wisconsin, and a second tasting room in Madison—and The Vineyards at Cambridge, Wisconsin’s only housing development on a winery and vineyard.

The latest venture is not so much a job as a lifestyle for Laurie and Frank. And, given the immediate successes of each enterprise, they seem made for it. Just four years in, plans already are underway to expand winery operations by building a production facility in Cambridge and by adding a VIP room at the Madison location. In addition, construction began in August on a second 20-unit apartment building in their housing development, which will eventually include two apartment buildings, 14 condominiums, and 51 residences.

“I start each day asking God for guidance and strength and end each day thanking Him for the blessings He has bestowed upon us and pray that I may be worthy of them,” Laurie said.

















 

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As close to a desk as she gets with her on-the-go schedule, Laurie depends on the portability of her iPad. She chose celestial clouds as a background image because “I’m always looking up and thinking, ‘Somewhere out there.’ It’s inspirational.”

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Sign reads “Life is what happens between coffee and wine.”

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Bottles from Wisconsin, New York and California fill the racks. Of the more than 30 varieties they have, some are special proprietary blends the Peregrines created during frequent California tastings and blendings with a renowned winemaker from San Luis Obispo. As their vineyard matures and expands, they will showcase more estate wines.

 

The Peregrines host an annual fundraiser for the Cambridge Arts Council, an organization supporting local artists. While neither dabble in the arts themselves, Frank is a Master Gardener, once growing a 560-pound giant pumpkin.

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Previously home to the Matt Kenseth Fan Museum (he grew up in Cambridge), parts of the building needed remodeling to update the racing décor. “We redecorated the wine bar to have the appearance of a barrel. Previously it resembled a rotary brake.”

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Laurie is right at home in this commercial kitchen having earned a culinary degree from Madison College. She also has a Stritch degree in business management and a computer science degree from Jefferson Community College. All of her educational experiences factor into her everyday duties.

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Beer is available for guests who prefer it. For years, Frank was a home brewer of beer, but now prefers Syrah. Laurie, on the other hand? “I’m a Pinot snob. I love Pinot Noir.”

8   Wi-Fi password: Pinot Noir 2

 

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With street names like Winery Way and Vineyard Crossing, the Vineyards at Cambridge served as a Parade of Homes site, a first for this small village just 13 miles east of Madison. The Peregrines own a home in the neighborhood with lavish views of the vineyard.





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Its plain, office-building exterior contrasts the sophistication and elegance of the Madison tasting room. The Peregrines’ son, Billy, manages this location.







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Several of their proprietary blends won awards, including nine Wisconsin State Fair silver medals in the past two years. California blending sessions with their winemaker and consultant include sampling more than 90 wines. “You definitely learn how to spit when blending wines and sampling. You never swallow because you’d be drunk and not make good decisions. And so learning how to spit well is an art, a crucial part of winemaking."


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With the very first of thousands of vines planted in 2015, the 15-acre vineyard just down the street from the Cambridge tasting room grows several varieties of grapes: St. Pepin, Brianna, Marquette, Petite Pearl, Frontnec Gris, Frontnec and Morningstar. The Peregrines’ first harvest sprouted in 2017, a year earlier than expected with a total yield of 1,200 pounds. In 2018, they harvested 8,000 pounds and expect that to more than double in 2019. Harvest time requires many hands equipped with sturdy pairs of clippers, and Laurie and Frank are right in the mix picking the grapes. But it doesn’t come without inherent risks. “The bees love it,” Laurie said. “I got stung twice on the same finger earlier this year. It hurt for two weeks.”
 

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Once the showroom for Matt Kenseth’s race cars, this space now can seat 300 guests at weddings, parties and events. The track lighting in the center of the room is in the shape of a race track and is a leftover design element from the Kenseth museum. At the suggestion and under the supervision of Laurie Struss, president of the Cambridge Arts Council, the track is now decorated with grape vines.


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The Peregrine’s daughter-in-law, Jessica, designed the logo.


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While the menu often changes, favorites include the meatballs, the warm marinated olives, and the meat and cheese board.

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Couples choosing Cambridge Winery for their wedding festivities can exchange their vows in the heart of the vineyard. Married for more than 35 years, the Peregrines met on the job in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; married in Steubenville, Ohio, at a St. Pius X Church ceremony officiated by two monsignors; and held their wedding reception at the Williams Country Club in Weirton, West Virginia, overlooking the Ohio River.

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In 2011, the Peregrines hosted a Stritch reception to welcome new president Dr. James P. Loftus and introduce him to Madison-area alumni.

GET A DEEPER LOOK AT CAMBRIDGE WINERY:

* Visit the Cambridge Winery website, with links to locations, hours, wine selections, menus and site rentals.
* Read a 2013 story about the Peregrines published in Stritch's alumni e-newsletter.
* View of video montage of the Cambridge vineyards and surrounding properties and residential development or watch several video interviews featuring Frank Peregrine, including:
November 2015 at the Talk of the Town studio
June 2016 on Girl Talk at the Cambridge vineyard
December 2016 on Girl Talk at the Madison Tasting Room