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

bernierinkBernie Rink, Owner/Winemaker
Boskydel Vineyard

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 keeping with tradition his daughter Paula Ciccone makes wine alongside him.

jaybriggsJay Briggs, Winemaker
Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery

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
Brengman Brothers at Crain Hill

A biochemistry major from Western Michigan University with a surprising amount of winemaking experience for his young age, Nathaniel strives to utilize classical wine making 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

alaneakerAlan Eaker, Owner/Winemaker
Longview Winery

The origin of the name “Longview Winery” begins over 15 years ago when Alan first met Linda. Linda was living in Michigan and Alan in Florida. They met at a conference and began a long distance relationship. With their children preparing to head off to college, Alan told her, “You have to look at the longview”. He said, “our kids are off to college soon and we will be together forever.” Fifteen years ago they married and upon retirement Alan said, “You saw the longview and married me, now what do YOU want”. Linda told Alan she wanted to live on a farm in Leelanau County so in 1998 they bought the land and started growing the vines. The grapes that make the wines are a culmination of Linda and Alan seeing the longview and today they produce the finest wines in the region. Theirs is a story of passion and love for each other, the farm, the land, and the community they live in.

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.