Traverse City natives and siblings Carter and Todd Oosterhouse received good news from Peninsula Township Tuesday evening – which means good news for fans of Old Mission Peninsula wineries.
Township officials granted the Oosterhouses a special-use permit to build a 6,500 square-foot winery off Center Road, paving the way for the duo to apply for county building permits and begin construction next month. Todd says they hope to have production facilities built in time to begin harvesting this fall on their 20 acres of wine grapes originally planted three years ago.
According to Us Magazine, the winery will be called Bonobo, after a type of chimpanzee.
“If we stay on track, we should be ready to open (the tasting room) in June 2014,” Todd says, noting that planned varietals include Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gri, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
Though the permitting process was a bumpy one for the Oosterhouses – who had to navigate zoning restrictions, land disputes and legal challenges en route to township approval – Todd says the support of other Peninsula winery owners was instrumental in negotiating the red tape.
“Going through this process, everyone has been very helpful,” Todd says. “It's definitely collaborative out here..people are willing to tell you the best steps to take.”
Marie-Chantal Dalese, marketing director at Chateau Chantal, seconds the view of the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP) as a close-knit community. Dalese, who calls the business environment on the Peninsula “friendly and collaborative,” is helping oversee this month's launch of Hawthorne Vineyards, the newest winery to join the organization.
The 86-acre secluded facility, tucked on top of a private drive off Peninsula Road overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, is home to 26 acres of wine grapes, a seasonal tasting room designed by architect Bradley Wheeler, and a wine patio with an outdoor wood-burning fireplace. Hawthorne Vineyards will focus on “super-premium, single varietal wines that reflect their...elevated position on the Peninsula,” according to Dalese.
The business itself is an embodiment of vintner collaboration. While owners Bruce and Cathleen Hawthorne will maintain distinct production facilities, tasting rooms and product lines at Hawthorne, the winery will share a management staff and winemaker Brian Hosmer with Chateau Chantal, which is a joint partner in the venture.
“It’s been an interesting project working with the Hawthornes," Hosmer said in a statement. "They bring a new perspective to the wines being offered from their estate, and it will continue to be an enjoyable challenge to create unique styles of wine for this property.” Dalese notes that the winery – which is planted for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer and Lemberger varietals – currently has 12 wines available to accompany its launch.
Hawthorne Vineyards officially opened on May 1 and will remain open seasonally through October 31. To commemorate its launch, the winery is hosting a grand opening celebration on Saturday, May 25 from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will include complimentary wine tastings, live music and light appetizers. For more information, visit www.hawthornevineyards.com.