The Team

The Team

The People Behind the Wine

EDDIE O’KEEFE

President, Since 1985

Eddie is the President of Chateau Grand Traverse, Ltd. and leads the business side of the operation. Eddie’s enthusiasm for wine began at an early age while tagging along with his father as a young kid in establishing the area’s first commercial winery and vineyard producing vinifera grapes. He then spent his summers at the winery doing everything from vineyard and tractor work to bottling wine, cleaning the cellar and working in the tasting room. Upon graduating from Michigan State University in 1985 with a B.A. in Advertising/Marketing, Eddie returned to the winery to begin his career. Through the turbulent and financially challenging early years to the hyper-evolution and critical recognition of the northern Michigan wine industry, Eddie basically learned all aspects of the wine business from the inside out. Today, he is responsible for the overall business operations from strategic planning to sales, distribution, new market development and finances. Eddie lives on Old Mission Peninsula with his wife Allison, two children, and their dogs, Sitka and Betsy Lane.

Additionally, Eddie has served as Chairman of the Board for WineAmerica from 2012-2014, Executive Board Member for the International Riesling Foundation, President of the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Producers Association, Board Member for the Michigan Wine Producers Association and Board Member for The Bank of Northern Michigan.

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EDDIE O’KEEFE

President, Since 1985

Eddie is the President of Chateau Grand Traverse, Ltd. and leads the business side of the operation. Eddie’s enthusiasm for wine began at an early age while tagging along with his father as a young kid in establishing the area’s first commercial winery and vineyard producing vinifera grapes. He then spent his summers at the winery doing everything from vineyard and tractor work to bottling wine, cleaning the cellar and working in the tasting room. Upon graduating from Michigan State University in 1985 with a B.A. in Advertising/Marketing, Eddie returned to the winery to begin his career. Through the turbulent and financially challenging early years to the hyper-evolution and critical recognition of the northern Michigan wine industry, Eddie basically learned all aspects of the wine business from the inside out. Today, he is responsible for the overall business operations from strategic planning to sales, distribution, new market development and finances. Eddie lives on Old Mission Peninsula with his wife Allison, two children, and their dogs, Sitka and Betsy Lane.

Additionally, Eddie has served as Chairman of the Board for WineAmerica from 2012-2014, Executive Board Member for the International Riesling Foundation, President of the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Producers Association, Board Member for the Michigan Wine Producers Association and Board Member for The Bank of Northern Michigan.

Executive Management

GABE MARZONIE

Director of Marketing, Since 2023

It’s a tough call to determine what Gabe treasures most: his wife Amy and twin daughters, his alma maters, Michigan and Georgetown Universities, his trusty Jeep Wrangler, the 2023 Michigan football national championship, or the captivating allure of the O’Keefe family’s esteemed winery. Throughout his career spanning more than two decades, Gabe has cultivated a wealth of expertise in corporate marketing. His journey took him to the heart of political power in Washington D.C., where he honed his skills over a decade-long tenure around Capitol Hill. During this time, Gabe made indelible contributions to various high-profile entities, including Homeland Security, and served as a trusted hand in crafting persuasive speeches for the White House. Returning to his roots in Michigan, Gabe embraced the convergence of his corporate marketing career and the artisanal essence of boutique winery operations. Specializing in deciphering consumer behavior and crafting captivating campaigns, Gabe orchestrates experiences and messaging which resonate deeply with wine novice and enthusiasts alike. With a mission to elevate the esteemed Chateau Grand Traverse brand, Gabe envisions fostering meaningful connections with customers while uncorking new avenues for growth in the dynamic wine industry landscape.

TERRIE MCCLELLAND

Operations Manager, Since 1986

Terrie is the Operations Manager at the winery and is the go-to person for almost anything. She was originally hired as a tractor driver and vineyard worker back in 1987, and has moved through the winery having worked in the retail tasting room, wine production area, as well as the front office. Terrie is known as the “work mom” for our winery dog, Sitka, who spends most of his nine-to-five shifts by her side. In 1995, Terrie was made Operations Manager and is still defining this challenging position. She is a graduate of Ferris State University with a BS Degree in Social Work/Psychology. Previous to her employment at the winery, Terrie worked as a social worker, domestic violence/sexual assault counselor and with developmentally disabled adults.

ALAN LARRABEE

CFO, Since 2008

Alan was born and raised in Traverse City graduating from Traverse City Senior High and later the University of Michigan. He is a licensed CPA since 1995. He has worked as an accountant in Traverse City since 1991 and joined Chateau Grand Traverse in April 2008. “I like the dynamics of a family-owned business and looking at the winery operation from an accounting point of view is both interesting and challenging” he said. Alan is responsible for financial reporting both inside and outside the company and oversees all accounting and financing matters.
He’s a married father of three boys who is a sucker for animals. He has 4 cats who have adopted his family as well as 2 dogs, a Pomeranian and a Chocolate Lab.

Winemaking

BERND CROISSANT

Winemaker, Since 1991

Bernd grew up in Edenkoben, Rheinland–Pfalz, Germany at his parent’s vineyards and winery located 25 miles north of the French border in the Palatinate. As a child, Bernd assisted his father in the vineyards and winery through each year’s harvest. In 1975 he began his formal wine training and apprenticeship earning his “Journeyman in Viticulture and Enology” in 1977.

He continued to work at several wineries in the Palatinate while studying at the LLFA Neustadt and LLVA Bad Kreuznach. In 1979 he earned his “Wirtschafter in Weinbau und Weinbereitung” degree; 1980 “Techniker in Weinbau und Weinbereitung” degree; 1981 “Winzermeister” degree.

From 1981 to 1983 he worked as interim winemaker and/or viticulturist in several German wineries. In 1983 he returned to his family winery making white wines and some sparkling wine. In 1984 he became Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Weingut Schmid in Ballrechten-Dottingen, South – Baden. In 1986 he was made Winemaker and Production Manager at Wein- und Sektgut Menger-Krug, Gau-Odernheim, Rheinhessen.

In 1991 he decided to take an overseas Sabbatical in Michigan hosted by Chateau Grand Traverse through a one-year work-study program. In 1992, he was offered the position of Vineyard Manager at Chateau Grand Traverse and became the Winemaker at CGT in 1993. As the saying goes…the rest is history.

PETER FRANCISCO

Bottling Production Manager, Since 2005

Peter was originally employed in construction and was involved in building an addition onto our winery. He observed the winemaking process and found it to be an interesting occupation and applied for a position. Since then, Peter has been a key member of Chateau Grand Traverse winemaking team. He is responsible for the operation and maintenance of our bottling line as well as other equipment. Peter is also directly involved in most aspects of our winemaking processes including receiving, pressing, fermenting and filtering. When he is not working, Peter enjoys fishing and the outdoors, especially in Alaska where many of his family members live.

MARK GROENEVELT

Warehouse & Shipping, Since 1990

Mark has been a key man at Chateau Grand Traverse through our many growth phases over the past few decades. Mark’s current responsibility is for the shipping and warehousing of all of the products we produce. Whether it is wine to be placed in our tasting room or product to be shipped to our distributors, he is the person who handles every case. He also helps during harvest and heavy bottling production periods. Mark is our in-house Detroit Tigers baseball fan and expert. You will always hear the game being played on the radio. Mark is a long-time Old Mission Peninsula resident and is married with two grown sons.

ERIC DLOSKI

Cellar Assistant, Since 2017

 

Sales

RHONDA RIEBOW

National Sales Manager, Since 1998

Rhonda began her career in the wine industry working for various Wine Wholesalers throughout the mid-Michigan area. After 22 years working in many different capacities, Rhonda broke away and started her own wine brokerage company called BevNet Marketing in 1998. She successfully represented and built new markets for a few national and imported brands throughout the region. In 2001, Rhonda added Chateau Grand Traverse to her mix of products and it grew to become her leading brand. In 2007, Chateau Grand Traverse hired Rhonda to represent its brand exclusively to wholesalers, chains, retail stores and restaurants. Rhonda worked to establish Chateau Grand Traverse as a top 10 brand in the State of Michigan. According to Rhonda, “It has been a joy to help the O’Keefe family in their endeavor to promote world-class wines in the state of Michigan and beyond. I look back on the past 20 years with the winery and family with many fond memories, and look forward to assisting their growth in the future.”

Rhonda lives on a small farm in rural Clinton County (mid-Michigan) with her husband, Roger, and an assortment of four legged friends.

Tasting Room & Hospitality

HIRO MIURA

Wine Tasting Room Manager, Since 2000

Hiro has been a core member of Chateau Grand Traverse since his return from Japan in 2000. He is responsible for day-to-day coordination of tasting room operations, and is the key liaison directly involved with customers who visit the winery for tours and tasting. He enjoys interactions with novice as well as experienced wine tasters, and is probably the most recognizable individual in the tasting room. The chance is very likely that you will see him whenever you visit the Chateau Grand Traverse tasting room. He firmly believes that the last customer of the day should have the same level of service as the first. Currently he is expanding his wine collection in his infamous underwater wine cellar, and when he’s not in the tasting room he is likely freediving in East Bay Grand Traverse Bay with a bottle of Riesling in hand to add to his collection.

PERRY HARMON

Chef, Since 2016

Chef Perry comes from Ohio, growing up in Copley and then Cleveland and lastly Mount Vernon. At age 30, he decided to follow his passion and went to culinary school in Cleveland, Ohio where he graduated “cum laude” with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. After graduating he won his first competition: The American Dairy Association’s “Premier Chefs of America” in 1994. He has worn many chef’s hats over the years working in hotels, private clubs, corporate dining, and as a personal chef as well as operating his own gourmet food business and raising two children. Perry oversees the food offerings at the Inn for both everyday guests and dinner functions throughout the year as well as developing and implementing the menus for the tasting room and patio. When not at work, Perry is an avid fly fisher and resides with his wife Kris and Bear the dog in Slabtown in Traverse City.

Vineyard Operations

RON HARP

Vineyard Manager, Since 1998

Ron comes from strong agricultural background having worked his whole life on Old Mission Peninsula with cherries, apples and grapes.  Ron is our equipment “artist” in his ability to maintain, fix, or operate a multitude of complex farm and vineyard equipment. In farming, Ron is a rare breed with his ability to get the job done despite, weather, breakdowns or obstacles. In has spare time, Ron and his wife Deb enjoy bird watching, hunting and fishing. Ron was instrumental in establishing a healthy bird habitat around our vineyards by building and installing dozens of bird houses and bat boxes as well as employing many of our sustainable environmental practices.

JAY BUDD

Assistant Vineyard Manager, Since 2019

Jay grew up on a family farm located in southeast Michigan. The youngest of three sons, Jay graduated from Northern Michigan University in 1997. He entered into the environmental consulting field in 1998 where he was relocated to the Traverse City area in the spring of 1999. In 2009, an opportunity was presented to Jay to return to his agricultural roots and he joined the staff of Mutual Farm Management where he was introduced into all aspects of the viticultural world. Jay joined the staff at Chateau Grand Traverse in late 2019 to aid the team in growing and harvesting the high quality grapes that are used to produce our wines. In his spare time, Jay enjoys spending time with his family and various outdoor pursuits including hunting, fishing and skiing.

 

PABLO GOMEZ

Vineyard Assistant, since 1999

Pablo oversees daily activities in the vineyard. His primary duties include pruning, vine maintenance, harvest and general upkeep. Pablo is married and has three children. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family as well as serious vegetable gardening with a specialty in tomatoes and assorted peppers.

Housekeeping & Grounds

A.J. KIEL

Groundskeeping, Since 2015

A.J. was born and raised in Northern Michigan. Having always enjoyed both working outdoors and getting to see the fruits of his labor, Groundskeeping was a good fit. Since starting at CGT, he’s developed both a taste for wine and an interest in learning the wine-making process. He especially enjoys the variety his job provides, as well as the people he works with.

Even when not working on the flower beds and grounds of the winery, he often spends his summer afternoons tending to his own garden. A.J. is an avid outdoorsman with hobbies including kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, snowboarding, and anything else that gets him outside and active.

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