Located on the 19-mile long Old Mission Peninsula in Northern Michigan, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery has been producing world-class wines for seven years. Founders Walter and Eileen Brys settled on the site—which rests on the same 45th parallel as Bordeaux, Piedmont, and the Willamette Valley—after visiting nearly every major wine region across the United States. Long known as “the cherry capital of the world,” the Traverse City area had all the conditions needed for growing vinifera wine grapes, and the lush land offered wine tourers a pure Michigan experience.
They discovered a former cherry orchard, 80 acres of land crying for work, an old farmhouse, and rundown outbuildings. All that could be saved were restored, including the enchanting 1890s farmhouse with a wrap-around veranda celebrating the views of Lake Michigan’s East Bay. A barn was transformed into a charming guest house, and work began on a brand new winery and tasting room. Even before its first wines were released in Traverse City, Michigan Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery 2005, the winery won its first honor: the 2003 Old Mission Peninsula Township Development Award.
Since then, the recognition has been focused on the wines. Brys Estate has already won more than 275 medals and acclaim in national and international wine competitions, including the Wine Literary Award in San Francisco for Best New Red Wine Discovery for its 2005 Cabernet Franc. Three more Brys Estate wines garnered medals at the prestigious 2010 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, and the list goes on. Walter is quick to credit Winemaker Coenraad Stassen and notes, “These awards show that Michigan wines can compete on the world stage, and win.”
Those who visit are beguiled by the beautiful brick and mahogany tasting room, and the winery’s intimate vaulted barrel and cask rooms. Private tours and wine tastings can be arranged for special occasions. And for those not planning to visit the Old Mission Peninsula soon, a three-level wine club allows them to enjoy Brys wines wherever they are.