Meet Our Winemakers

Along your journey in Leelanau Peninsula Wine Country, you’ll discover breathtaking views, stylish wines and passionate vintners with eclectic backgrounds that include fourth-generation farmers, doctors in horticulture, corporate businessmen and entrepreneurs. Together, they represent the largest and oldest wine trail in Michigan and have garnered Leelanau Peninsula international attention as a world-class destination.

larrymawbyLarry Mawby, Vintner
Mike Laing, Winemaker
L. Mawby Vineyards

Founding winemaker Larry Mawby, at left, discusses critical winemaking decisions with Mike Laing. At MAWBY, Larry is responsible for the L.Mawby sparkling wines, and Mike is responsible for the M.Lawrence sparkling wines.

leelutesLee Lutes, Winemaker
Black Star Farms

As the head winemaker for Black Star Farms, Lee oversees winemaking operations for the two processing facilities on the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas. These facilities were created in 2007 to separately specialize in red and white wine production. He also directs the distillation program that produces European style fruit brandies and dessert wines.

Lee is a proud self-taught winemaker, which he eventually came to via experience in the restaurant industry as well as extensive international travel.  He was an assistant winemaker at a small Piedmont winery prior to moving back to Michigan, where he was born and raised, and returned home at a time fortuitous with the growth and expansion of the industry. He is an avid supporter of all things Michigan, and proudly specializes in Pinot Noir and Riesling.

tomknightonTom Knighton, Owner
Blustone Vineyards

thepresident-236x300Matt Gregory, Owner
Chateau de Leelanau

danmatthiesDan Matthies, Owner
Chateau Fontaine Vineyard & Winery

tonycicconeTony Ciccone, Owner/Winemaker
Ciccone Vineyard & Winery

After retiring from his career as an engineer, Silvio “Tony” Ciccone moved from Rochester, Michigan to establish Ciccone Vineyard and Winery in 1995. Planted, harvested and produced by hand, Ciccone’s estate wines are smooth and fruit-forward and speak to Tony’s Italian heritage where wine-making was learned from his father who was born and raised in Pacentro, Italy. Ciccone Vineyard is small and family-run, and, in keeping with tradition, his daughter, Paula Ciccone, makes wine alongside him.

jaybriggsJay Briggs, Winemaker
Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery

Jay is the heart of Forty-Five North. You can find him in the production building most of the time except when the guys are sneaking out to sample at other wineries, breweries, or cideries. Jay’s exuberant personality brings a lot of fun and laughs to the winery. He might not be too serious, but he is serious about his wines. He enjoys experimenting and creating new products like the Wild Cider and Citra Cider.

samsimpsonSam Simpson, Winemaker
Good Harbor Vineyards

paulhamelinPaul Hamelin, Owner
Verterra Winery

christianguestChristian Guest, Winemaker
Willow Vineyard

Christian Guest has been the winemaker at Willow Vineyard for 16 years. He founded and managed the 96-acre Seven Lakes Vineyard in Holly, Michigan for eighteen years before coming to Leelanau County in 1996 to begin a consulting business that has advised several wine-growing ventures that operate today. His knowledge and continued application of barrel aging regimens for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have elevated Willow Vineyard’s reputation as a favorite among wine drinkers who appreciate classically styled wines.

nathanielroseNathaniel Rose, Winemaker
Nathaniel Rose Wines at Rafsthol Vineyards

A biochemistry major from Western Michigan University with a surprising amount of winemaking experience for his young age, Nathaniel strives to utilize classical winemaking techniques in conduction with the technical understanding of how flavors and aromas naturally come into being in wine. While some may see his methods as archaic, it results in true artisan, small-batch, hands-on winemaking. In retrospect, his reservations with the contemporary wine making methods seems to have been a blessing. Nathaniel is essentially making wine the same way it has been made for centuries, with minimal additions of sulfur, and not much else.

thebraymersThe Braymers, Owners
Laurentide Winery

davejoanalbertDave and Joan Albert, Owners
Boathouse Vineyards

Steve Kozelko, Owner
French Valley Vineyard

Dr. Steve Kozelko grew up in Traverse City and has lived and worked in the region his entire life. He is a wine enthusiast, and in 2000 he purchased the 75-acre farm on French Road in Cedar with the intention of planting grapes. His first harvest was in 2003, and the grapes of French Valley have been winning awards ever since.  In May of 2016, Steve opened the first Tasting Room, renting space from his partner Pam Leonard at the Vineyard Inn on Suttons Bay. Here guests enjoy tasting great wine with breathtaking views of the Bay. Steve also has a “day job”; he is a dentist and owns Harborside Dental in TC, where he has been in practice nearly 40 years. French Valley’s Winemaker is Charlie Edson of Bel Lago. Charlie has been making wine for 50 years, experimenting and growing grapes in Leelanau County. Bel Lago is located just south of French Valley Vineyard on Lake Leelanau.