Michigan’s wine country, which took root in 1974, has officially begun passing the winegrowing torch to the next generation. Several local vineyards have given their leadership positions to a younger, eager generation.
CHATEAU CHANTAL WINERY
The Chateau Chantal Winery has named Marie-Chantal Dalese the new president and CEO. She earned her undergraduate degree in marketing and management from DePaul University, a graduate diploma in wine business from the University of Adelaide, Australia and served as the marketing director for Chateau Chanel for several years.
“I’m very glad to have made this decision,” says Dalese. “I get to see my parents every day and work with a team that is more family than co-workers. There are constant challenges that keep you on your toes, but also great rewards.”
GOOD HARBOR VINEYARDS
Founded by Bruce and Debbie Simpson, Good Harbor Vineyards was home for their two sons growing up. Sam Simpson now serves as the winery’s general manager and Taylor Simpson is the director of sales, marketing and distribution.
Jim and Andy Rink have helped their father run the family vineyard, Boskydel Vineyard. While both of them have full-time jobs, they help their 89-year-old father with the daily tasks of the vineyard.
Walt and Eileen Brys founded their vineyard, Brys Estate Vineyard after their retirement. When it gained more popularity than they could handle, they called in help from their son Patrick Brys. He started there in 2009 and will gradually gain more responsibility as his parents phase out their leadership roles.
Founded in 1974 by Ed O’Keefe Sr., Chateau Grand Traverse has been a family affair since the start. By 1985, his oldest son, Edward III O’Keefe was appointed the company’s president and has been producing over 100,000 cases of wine annually.
"A lot of people think it would be wonderful to start a winery, but it takes a lot of slow, steady growth to make this work,” says O’Keefe. “What we do is very simple: we grow grapes, we make wine and we sell wine. We're not an entertainment facility, we're a production winery.”