Walter and Eileen Brys, proprietors of Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan, planted the first of 40,000 vines in 2001 and opened the doors of their tasting room in 2005. Their 40-acre vineyard is part of the 91 acres that makes up Brys Estate.
The farm originally harvested cherries and apples, was historically successful, and was locally known to have good produce even when other area farms were suffering. The farm was active until the 1970's when all the fruit trees were removed. The land sat dormant until 2000 when the Brys family planted a cover crop to enrich the soils before the first planting of the vinifera grape vines in 2001. The Brys family is the third owner in the history of the farm since the late 1890's.
Today there are eight different varietals planted at Brys Estate. The red grape varietals are: Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. The white varietals are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer.
The ballerina of red wines, Pinot Noir is the most suited red varietal for our climate, producing some of the most outstanding wines from year to year. Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult varieties to grow. It has small compact clusters that are very susceptible to mildew and rot. We crop this variety between 2 - 4 tons per acre, and produce 1200-1500 cases per season from 5.8 acres of Pinot Noir.
This variety has large loose clusters. In warmer years Merlot will show you lots of dark fruit body with nice spice on the finish. In cooler years, it will be more elegant in style with lots of pepper on the finish. We crop this variety between 2 - 2.5 tons per acre, producing 400 - 700 cases per year from 5.58 acres of Merlot.
One of the parent varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the only two Bordeaux varietals we grow on the Estate. Large, loose clusters with very intense aromatics and body. Cabernet Franc does really well on the estate and prefers a longer growing season and heavier soils to flex its muscles. We crop this variety between 2 - 2.5 tons per acre, producing 500 - 800 cases from 7.08 acres of Cabernet Franc.
Large compact clusters. Aromas vary from citrus like character to ripe tropical and stone fruit. The diversity of Riesling allows us to produce several different styles, which can range from a very dry clean and crisp wine to a richer and sweeter dessert style wine. We crop Riesling at 3-4 tons per acre, depending on the year, producing approximately 2000 cases per growing season from 7.5 acres of Riesling.
An early ripening variety with tight smaller clusters. The skin is light purple and flavors range from passion fruit to peach and grapefruit. Pinot Gris is planted on heavier clay soil, which intensifies the beautiful flavors. The variety gets cropped at 3 tons per acre, producing between 300 - 500 cases per year from 3.3 acres of vineyard.
Tight clusters with small golden berries when ripe. This grape is also very aromatic and makes silky smooth wines. We have just over an acre planted. For quality purposes, we crop it very low, and produce 300-500 cases per year from 1.3 acres of vineyard.
Chardonnay has large loose clusters. The two clones planted will help us produce very fragrant wines. Hints of tropical fruit, and citrus flavors will contribute to the beauty of this variety. To increase flavor we crop the variety at 2.5 - 3 tons per acre, producing 300 - 500 cases per year from 3.88 acres of Chardonnay.
This variety will embrace you with its floral tones and soft spice. Gewürztraminer flourishes in the heavier alluvial soils we have on the estate. We crop Gewürztraminer between 2.5 - 3.5 tons per acre, producing 500 - 800 cases per year from 2.3 acres of Gewürztraminer.