Chateau Grand Traverse Winery

12239 Center Road
Traverse City, MI 49686


Open: Year-Round

Chateau Grand Traverse is as much a colorful story of our founder Ed O'Keefe Jr., as it is of the winery itself.  Like many mavericks in the wine industry, it was a rather indirect route that ultimately led an Irishman from Philadelphia to northern Michigan to start a winery.  An Olympic gymnast (runner-up); Army Green Beret Special Forces Paratrooper; NYC Undercover Narcotics Agent with the U.S. Treasury Department; Nursing Home Owner & Administrator - These experiences combined with an enthusiastic passion for wine and the willingness to take on a challenge led him toward starting a winery in 1974 in northern Michigan where none existed.

In the early 1970's, most of the established Michigan wineries were located in the southwest portion of the State.  These producers focused primarily upon wines made from Native Labrusca as well as French-American hybrid grapes.  After considerable research, O'Keefe was fervently convinced that wines made from European varieties were the key to transforming Michigan's reputation into a fine wine State.  At the time, most industry experts deemed Michigan's climate too cold and harsh to commercially grow and sustain these more tender varieties.

Working under the guidance of Dr. Helmut Becker from the Geisenheim Oeologogical and Viticutural school in then, West Germany industry, it was discovered that the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City could potentially afford the right conditions for growing European grape varieties.  Key growing factors such as temperature, sunlight exposure, air and water drainage, and ample precipitation were critically important to insure wines of distinction.  These conditions, combined with the moderating effects of the deep waters of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay, would hopefully insure success.  Ed purchased a tired 55-acre cherry orchard on Old Mission Peninsula to plant his first vineyard.

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