Northern Michigan vineyards lend a fresh take to the stale realtor term one-of-a-kind property. In the relatively short history of the Up North wine industry (circa 1975 when Bernie Rink and his five sons began building the winery and for Boskydel in Leelanau) a vineyard has never changed hands. In fact, a vineyard has never changed hands in the entire state. “There has never been a property in the state of Michigan that has been sold with vines on it,” says realtor Dan Matthies of Peninsula Properties.
Matthies, who, with his wife Lucie, founded and owns Chateau Fontaine vineyard and winery in Leelanau County, is currently representing one of three vineyards for sale in the rolling, south-facing glacial ridges of Leelanau County that are as perfect for growing wine as they are breathtakingly beautiful. The lack of turnover in vineyard properties, Matthies says, is related to the kind of commitment it takes to be a vintner. Add the time (three years before you see your first crop, five years before a full harvest) and upfront capital ($15,000 an acre to plant grape vines), and it's pretty clear that starting a vineyard is more about passion than it is the bottom line.
After all that grape TLC, if a vintner does end up wanting to sell, says Matthies, who also sits on the Michigan Wine and Grape Council, appraisals are difficult—given that there are no comparable properties. Matthies believes the best appraisal is one that takes into account Northern Michigan's growing national reputation as a superb wine growing region—kudos that is being recognized by Lansing, where funding was recently squeezed out of a near-empty state budget for a Michigan State University study of the available land suitable for growing grapes in the state. Add to that recognition what Matthies terms a “desperate” need for grapes to meet the demand of the state's 65 wineries, and purchasing a vineyard and winery, if you can find one for sale, is as much a good business decision as it is a lifestyle choice.
Interested yet? Check out these three, turn-key vineyard and wineries in Leelanau County:
This well manicured vineyard produces award winning wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
Willow sells 100% of their wine from the tasting room; creating a huge potential for the next owner to expand by increasing sales via internet and providing wines to local restaurants & shops. Also includes:
More info on Willow Vineyard: Shelly Brunette, Real Estate One, Suttons Bay. 231-642-6436.
71.45 acres in Suttons Bay. One of the largest vinifera vineyards in Leelanau County. Vineyard first planted in 1992 with subsequent plantings through 2001. About 27 acres in full production. Average vintage approximately 80 tons. New winery building completed in 2003. Suttons Bay wine tasting room is a leased two-story building. $2,700,000. Jim Supina, Real Estate One, Traverse City. 231-620-8608.
The name means beautiful lake in Italian, and Matthies says to take the name literally. The 90-plus acre winery is perched on a high ridge overlooking South Lake Leelanau with exquisite 180-degree panoramas. The wine production area has approximately 6,000 square feet of space, while the tasting room and offices have another 1,800 square feet. Annual production is about 3,500 cases. Production capacity could be expanded to nearly 10,000 cases. Winery features state of the art German & Italian winemaking equipment and high quality French and American cooperage. The tasting room is well appointed featuring Italian lighting and a unique tasting bar faced in Italian tile. Tasting room traffic has increased each year, requiring the construction of a second tasting bar in 2003. $3,950,000. More info: Dan Matthies, Peninsula Properties, 231-256-0000.