Celebrating 50 years

Celebrating 50 years

Chateau Grand Traverse Celebrates 50 Years of Crafting Estate-Grown Wines

Amidst skepticism and doubt, Ed O’Keefe Jr., the trailblazing pioneer behind Chateau Grand Traverse, fearlessly challenged convention and silenced naysayers who dismissed his audacious venture as “O’Keefe’s Folly.” Widely credited for revolutionizing Michigan’s viticulture landscape, O’Keefe boldly planted Riesling on Old Mission Peninsula in 1974, forever altering the trajectory of the state’s winemaking history. As the winery celebrates the commemoration of its 50th anniversary on April Fool’s Day 2024, what was once viewed with amusement now inspires admiration and respect. Testament to unwavering perseverance and dedication, Chateau Grand Traverse stands as a meticulously tended family-owned estate, crafting exquisite cool-climate wines enjoyed worldwide.

Following in his late father’s footsteps, President, and CEO Eddie O’Keefe III, has run the day-to-day operations at Chateau Grand Traverse since 1985, seeing it through sustained growth and evolution. “We are producing the best wines of my life right now,” says Eddie. “Remaining relevance in an industry that has expanded from 200 to 11,000 wineries underscores our resilience in navigating the complexities of agriculture, competition, and shifting market dynamics.”

CGT Winery and Vineyards in 1980 vs Present

CGT cooperage in 1985 vs Present

Founder Ed O’Keefe Jr.’s life story unfolded like a captivating narrative straight from the reels of Hollywood. A former Green Beret from Philadelphia turned undercover narcotics officer for the U.S. Treasury Department turned successful businessman outfitting and operating nursing homes in Detroit turned top viticulturist. In 1974, he embarked on a monumental endeavor, orchestrating the transformation of a former cherry orchard by moving a staggering million cubic yards of soil to create a southwest slope. Upon this newly formed terrain, O’Keefe planted 55 acres of Riesling, Chardonnay, and Merlot grapes, defying conventional wisdom deeming delicate European varietals unsuitable for northern Michigan’s harsh winters. This bold move signified the inception of the region’s initial commercial planting of Vitis vinifera, catalyzing a significant transformation in Michigan’s wine industry.

In 2024, Chateau Grand Traverse commands impressive market share for a regional winery, accounting for over 75% of the total Riesling production in the state of Michigan and contributing +3% to the Riesling output of the entire United States. Notably, the CGT Late Harvest Riesling stands as Michigan’s premier white wine, leading sales charts and exemplifying the pinnacle of quality. With an array of celebrated wines, the winery has accumulating numerous awards and accolades, reaffirming its excellence as the illustrious “House of Riesling.”

“With sincere appreciation for our history and achievements, this 50th year milestone serves as a moment to honor the enduring legacy forged by my dad and his pioneering spirit, which laid the foundation for the winery’s success” says Eddie. “However, amidst the celebrations of the past, there’s also a keen focus on the future. This anniversary marks not only a reflection on our past, but also a celebration of the possibilities that lie ahead. Chateau Grand Traverse will continue to reaffirm its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and excellence in winemaking as it continues to evolve and thrive in the years to come.”


Late Harvest Riesling, Michigans #1 selling regional white wine

The anniversary year will be celebrated with several industry and consumer events to be scheduled, as well as a series of wine club events, intimate trade and media tastings, educational seminars, festivals, and more.

Meet the Family

These are the people behind the wine. The family that comes together to make every bottle of Chateau Grand Traverse wine special.

Tasting Experiences

Visit our tasting room on Old Mission Peninsula to enjoy your choice of 5 of our outstanding Northern Michigan wines for just $10.

Wine tastings are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, and no reservations are required.