Matt Gregory of Chateau de Leelanau stars in the new reality television pilot, Wine Warriors–filling that niche of the wine dude who really loves a cold brew. MyNorth (with Traverse Magazine) chatted with Matt Gregory a few years back about his wine operation. Here’s our interview with the Northern Michigan Wine Warrior.

Matt Gregory knew cherries long before he decided to throw his hat in the ring of those creating Northern Michigan wine. Raised among the fruit trees of his family’s orchard enterprise in the Leelanau County wine country around Sutton’s Bay, Matt did a stint studying business at Michigan State before returning home to run the family farm and get into the grape game with his purchase of Chateau de Leelanau in 2009.

We chat with Matt about winging it, growing rare hybrid whites and what to eat with them.

Tell us about your overnight transformation from cherry farmer to winemaker?

When I set foot in the winery four years ago I didn’t even know how to turn the pump and was told my first vintage of riesling tasted like innertubes so it’s been a steep learning curve. The local winemaking community has really helped me, and we’re now making some great wines and winning awards for them.

Your flagship wine is made from bianca? What’s that?

Yes. We inherited about an acre of bianca when we bought the property, and we’re the only ones in the state who bottle it. It’s an obscure hybrid grape from Hungary, and I think it’s the closest thing we have to sauvignon blanc. Really crisp and bright with lots of pear and grapefruit. It is very much a “toes in the sand at the beach,” “mowing the lawn on a Saturday” kind of wine.

So what goes with bianca besides sand and lawn mowers?

I spend a lot of time trolling for salmon and like to pair a cold bottle of bianca with Great Lakes salmon that’s been marinated in fresh dill, lime zest, lime juice and olive oil and cooked on the grill.

Traverse food and wine editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey.

Read More about Wine Warriors the TV Pilot

Read About Wine Warriors Sam and Taylor Simpson

Read About Wine Warrior Larry Mawby

Read About Wine Warrior Chateau Chantal

This article is also featured in the August 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s MagazineGet your copy now!