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Winemaking Team

Coenraad StassenDirector of Winemaking & Estate Manager

Coenraad Stassen

Coenraad Stassen grew up in the Western Cape, South Africa among the grape vines of the famous Cape Town wine region. His start in winemaking was a temporary position in harvest work in 1995 that quickly turned into a promotion and permanent position in winemaking. At the same time, Coen attended Elsenburg College (now named the Cape Institute for Agricultural Training) in Stellenbosch where he graduated at the top of his class in the Senior Cellar Technology program.

After eight years honing his winemaking skills in the Klein Karoo Region, Coenraad joined the international exchange program through Ohio State University in 2003, bringing him to Old Mission Peninsula and Traverse City - the place he now calls home.

Coenraad says "For me winemaking is an art and a passion. Old Mission Peninsula and Brys Estate allow me to make that passion a reality in handcrafting some of the best wines in the world!"

Brys Estate, under the guidance of Coenraad's winemaking, has earned over 500 medals in national and international wine competitions, including a Jefferson Cup for our 2021 Dry Riesling Reserve and 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve at the 2023 and 2019 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, and "Best of Show White Wine" award for our 2017 Gewurztraminer Reserve at the 2018 Critics Challenge. Multiple double gold medals and the "Best of Class" awards have been attained for wines as well, most recently being our 2022 Riesling Reserve, 2021 Gew​ürztraminer Reserve, 2021 Riesling Reserve, 2017 Signature Red Reserve, 2017 Artisan Dry Riesling, and 2018 Riesling Reserve, amongst others. Brys Estate also garnered three medals at the prestigious 2010 International Wine & Spirits Competition held in London, England for the 2007 Artisan Pinot Noir, 2008 Gewürztraminer and the 2007 "Dry Ice" wines. 

Coenraad has a strong focus on producing high-quality dry reds and has a crisp, clean approach in producing whites. His focus is to be able to make world recognized wines from 100% estate grown Old Mission Peninsula AVA vinifera grapes from the Brys Estate vineyards.

"I like to make wines that are elegant and well-balanced," shares Coenraad, "that can be enjoyed with foods or all by themselves."

Coenraad StassenCellar Master

Jordan Hooker

Jordan Hooker grew up on a dairy farm in a small town in West Michigan. He went to college at Central Michigan University where he studied History and Fine Art. The opportunity for him to study abroad arose and he traveled to Florence, Italy. During his time there, his love for wine developed. “The culture of appreciating and understanding wine really appealed to me,” says Jordan.

Three years after graduating college, he decided to move up to Traverse City in 2015 and began working in the tasting room at Brys Estate. His love for wine continued to develop as he learned more about Michigan wines and the varietals that grow here. Later that year he moved into the production side of the winery where he learned the ins and outs of creating world class wines. Through years of working closely with winemaker, Coenraad Stassen, he has refined his skills and achieved the Cellar Master position. Working at Brys made him quickly realize that producing wine was exactly the art that fit him best. Jordan explains, “Making wine shares many of the principles of producing fine art. I love creating a product that people enjoy and admire.”

Coenraad StassenCellar Hand

Allie Layson

Allie Layson was born and raised in Southeast Michigan, but her love for Northwestern Michigan started with her first trip to the area at just two weeks old. She grew up spending summers in Glen Arbor, Michigan, which led to her working in the region seasonally while she was attending Michigan State University, and later moving to Traverse City full time. Allie has a passion for agriculture and she graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Agribusiness Management in 2021.

Her interest in wine began while working for a retail store with a satellite tasting room in 2019. It expanded from there as she worked for a winery on Leelanau peninsula and saw first hand the impact that wine has on bringing people together and creating memorable experiences. Allie wanted to expand her knowledge of wine and incorporate her love of agriculture by getting behind the scenes and learning the process of creating wine from dirt to glass. Allie started as the cellar hand at Brys Estate at the beginning of 2022 and she explains, “I love being able to see the entire process of winemaking, from compost in the vineyards, to pressing grapes, to filtering and bottling the finished product and everything in between. It’s very rewarding to know I have a hand in making Brys world-class wines!”.