The story of Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery began when Walt and Eileen Brys decided to purchase an 1890’s homestead in the Old Mission Peninsula of Michigan to build their dream winery, which was inspired by a trip to Napa in 1975. Originally planted with cherries and apples, the 91 acre estate had a history of producing fruit even during the harshest of times and to this day the terroir of this breathtaking property is producing delicious fruit. The Brys Family continues to honor the tradition of the homestead, not only by their grape growing endeavor, but with what they call the Secret Garden which consists of 6,000 lavender plants, herbs, flowers and strawberry and blueberry patches.
During our visit to Brys Estate we were fortunate to have the opportunity to walk the grounds with Winemaker Coenraad Stassen. Coenraad, a native of South Africa who has made The Old Mission Península his home for the last 16 years, with 13 of those at Brys, pointed out how fortunate he is to be working with a family that understands the importance of the commitment to the soil and to the vineyard. A clear sign of this commitment is the perfectly manicured vines which were being prepared for the new growing season. The first of the 40,000 vines on the property were planted in 2001 and in 2004 the original 10,000 vines produced there first harvest.
The focus at Brys Estate is crafting 100% estate grown wines from their 40 acre vineyard that highlight the terroir of the Old Mission Peninsula. Planted on the property you can find Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling. As we explored the property and it’s wines, we could not help but be impressed with what is happening at Brys Estate. Their reds are elegant and balanced and their whites are fresh and crisp.
Some of the highlights of our tasting came from their Artisan Series, which are small allocation wines made using 90% gravity flow and no filtration. Their Artisan Chardonnay (40 cases), with notes of pineapple on the nose and palate, and the balanced and complex Artisan Dry Riesling, which is aged 14 months in oak, were phenomenal. The Artisan Cabernet Franc, which was elegant and fruit forward, and their Reserve Signature Red, which is an explosion of flavors and a blend of Cab Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, made it back home with us and we can’t wait to open them.
Not only were we fortunate to visit their winery during our visit to Old Mission, but we had the awesome opportunity of staying at their vineyard cottage. The cottage, which was formerly a barn of the original homestead, has been renovated into a 2 bedroom and 2 bath dream stay overlooking the breathtaking blue waters of East Grand Traverse Bay. To top it all, the cottage comes with a full kitchen and a living and dining room. This storybook cottage is one that we certainly hope to call home again in the future.
Thanks to everyone at Brys Estate for making our visit one we would love to repeat. Thanks also Coenraad for all of your time and feedback. You are all making some great wines but most importantly you have made Brys Estate a place that feels like home.