How to Own a Northern Michigan Vineyard

The Northern Michigan wine industry is, and has been, booming since its start in 1975. And now, Northern Michigan vineyards are lending a fresh take to the term ‘one-of-a-kind property.’ If your dream has always been to live here in Northern Michigan while taking part in a growing business, then one of the following three Northern Michigan real estate listings might just be for you.

Dan Matthies, who founded and owns Chateau Fontaine vineyard and winery in Leelanau County with his wife Lucie, is currently representing one of the vineyards for sale in the rolling hillsides of Northern Michigan. 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 Northern Michigan:

Willow Willow Vineyard

← 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 and shops. Also includes:

  • 11 ½ acre site; 8 planted in grapes.
  • Deluxe Wine Tasting Room
  • Winery
  • Barrel Cellar
  • Custom Equipment Barn
  • Estate Villa Residence: European Influenced Estate Villa with 2 master suites, exceptional views and a very comfortable place to make home.
  • Premium location for weddings, private parties & events.
  • Located in a highly desirable area off  Hilltop Rd. in the heart of Leelanau wine country, Willow Vineyard offers breathtaking views over West Grand Traverse Bay and is the perfect backdrop for wine tasters visiting the tasting room.

More info on Willow Vineyard at; Shelly Brunette, Real Estate One, Suttons Bay. 231.642.6436.

Bel Lago

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 wine-making 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.

Learn more by contacting Dan Matthies, Peninsula Properties, 231.256.0000.Gill' Pier

Gill’s Pier Vineyard and Winery

Gill’s Pier Vineyard and Winery Inc is a turnkey business which includes the sale of the owner’s home, 54 acres of land, a tasting/sales room, large storage facility and all equipment, supplies and inventory. Highlights of this Leelanau County business include:

  • 3900 sq ft custom home with Lake Michigan views, large kitchen, great room, walkout lower level and master suite.
  • 52 acres total land, including four acres of mature, producing vines and 4 additional acres plowed and cover cropped, ready for planting.  Another 15 to 20 acres could eventually be planted with vines.
  • 3,294 sq ft elegant tasting room equipped with 100 year old Mahogany bar, European antiques, catering kitchen, office, VIP room and bathrooms.
  • Large storage barn currently used to store equipment.  Possible conversion to production facility, banquet room or dining area.

More info on Gill’s Pier Vineyard and Winery at, or call Traverse North Realty at 231.668.6303.

More Northern Michigan Wine

Article Comments

  • The Vine Goddess

    It is a great time to buy in Leelanau and the vineyard dream is still alive and well. For those who might want an idea of what they’re getting into, we invite you to visit our blog at There we discuss what we’ve learned through the scientific method called “trial and error” in over 20 years of raising premium wine grapes — chardonnay and pinot noir — on the Leelanau Peninsula.

    The Vine Goddess and Diesel Boy

  • john

    You mentioned that it is a good time to buy. How much is good undeveloped land with grape growing potential selling for these days? Thanks John Toigo
    PS: see my family’s vineyard in tuscany at

  • Lissa Edwards


    Thank you for your question. I would refer you to
    Dan Matthies, Realtor and owner of Chateau Fontaine Winery (231-256-0000; Besides being a font of knowledge about the Northern Michigan wine business, Dan has worked with the State of Michigan on a project to catalog land that has vineyard potential.

    May I ask how you found our web site? Also, if you ever need help in your beautiful vineyard I’m always looking for an excuse to go to Europe!

    Please let me know if I can help you further.

    Elizabeth (Lissa) Edwards


    Potentially the next big Leelanau Vineyard…?

    Contact Rob Serbin @ 231-334-2758