Timeline

1969-1972

  • Ed O’Keefe Jr. travels to Europe with Bill Krauser to survey wine industry.
  • Starts European Wine Import Company.

1973

  • Ed O’Keefe Jr. sells his Detroit based business.
  • Hires Dr. Helmut Becker from Geisenheim, West Germany to do a feasibility study on planting Vinifera grapes in Traverse City on Old Mission Peninsula.

1974

  • Chateau Grand Traverse is incorporated.
  • The Old Mission Peninsula Winery property is purchased and land contouring and preparing the land for planting begins.
  •  3.0 Acre Test Field Planted to assess 100 potential grape varieties

1975

  • German Viticulturist, Bernd Philippi, hired to plant initial acreage of 27 acres of Riesling, 17 Chardonnay, and 1 Merlot.
  • Construction of Winery building begins.

1976

  • Chateau Grand Traverse is the first commercial winery in Northern Michigan producing wines from vinifera grapes.  Tasting Room is opened.
  • Miles Kharakasevic hired as Winemaker and General Manager.

1977

  • Production of local Cherry and Apple wines while waiting for first grape harvest.

1978

  • German Winemaker, Roland Pfleger, is hired.
  • First commercial grape harvest is picked.

1979       

  • Best of Show Wine at the Michigan State Fair, 1978 Chardonnay “Sweet Sharon” awarded.
  • First wines bottled under the name Chateau Grand Travers and The Grand Traverse Vineyards.

1980

  • First Riesling Ice Wine produced.
  • Chateau Grand Traverse production 5,000 cases per year.

1981

  • “Best Buy Rating” from the International Wine Review in the Gold Medal Category for 1981 Chardonnay.

 1982

  • Winery experiences difficult financial situation during recession.
  • First Vintage of Dry Riesling produced. 

1983

  • The “e” was added back to the end of Travers due to customer’s continual questioning of the traditional French spelling.

1984

  • Mark Johnson hired as Cellarmaster.

1985

  • Winemaker, Roland Pfleger returns to his family’s winery in Germany.
  • Eddie O’Keefe begins working at the winery after graduating MSU.
  • Mark Johnson promoted to Winemaker

1986       

  • Chateau Grand Traverse sales exceed 20,000 cases annually.

1987

  • Ed O’Keefe Jr. establishes Old Mission Peninsula as an officially recognized American Viticulture Appellation (AVA) by the Federal Government.

1988

  • 1987 Riesling Ice Wine served at the Inauguration of President George Bush.
  • 4 acre Gamay Noir field planted on Old Mission Peninsula.

1989

  • Traverse City Cherry wine products introduced.

1990       

  • Bon Appétit Magazine, “Best U.S. Wines Under $8.00”, 1988 Semidry Riesling Grand Traverse.

1991

  • 1989 Dry Riesling served at Michigan Governor John Engler Inauguration
  • 6.0 Acre Nelson Road Vineyard Planted (Chardonnay & Riesling).
  • Ash from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in Philippines reduces normal sunlight reaching earth’s surface by 10% leading to three years of much cooler than normal weather.

 1992

  • 1991 Dry Riesling Featured in Wine Spectator Magazine.
  • Winemaker, Bernd Croissant begins working at the winery.
  • Planted 3.20 Acres Krauser Orchard Vineyard (Chardonnay & Merlot)

 1993

  • New winery logo developed and implemented.  Wines begin to sell in Japan (500 cases per year).
  • Planted 3.30 Acres Krauser Pinot Noir on site of original 1974 CGT Test Field. 
  • 36,700 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

1994

  • CGT sells Development rights to Agriculture property providing a scenic view shed.  2nd in the State of MI to participate in program.
  • 12.0 acre Santucci Vineyard Planted (Riesling, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Gewürztraminer)
  • Sean apprentices with Roland Pfleger/Weingut Jakob Pfleger in Herxheim am Berg, Germany.

1995

  • Winery Tasting Room is Expanded.
  • Hard Winter Freeze.
  • Sean starts higher wine education at FA Geisenheim in Germany.

1996       

  • Winter temperature hits -10 F and grape crop is wiped out.
  • The Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse is built.
  • New Grand Traverse Select Brand Introduced.

1997       

  • Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse opens.
  • 26,500 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

1998       

  • Sean O’Keefe begins working at the winery.
  • First Vintage of Whole Cluster Riesling.
  • New 9 ton capacity Europress added.

1999       

  • 2.50 Acre Riesling overlook field (Canyon) planted.
  • 4,000 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2000       

  • Eddie O’Keefe named President of Chateau Grand Traverse.
  • 3.9 Acre Fisher/Bella Donna Vnyd Planted (Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris)
  • First visit by wine critic Tom Stevenson.  CGT listed as a “world-class” producer of Riesling in Sotheby’s Encyclopedia of Wine.

2001       

  • Planted 2.3 Acres Riesling (a.k.a. Moonscape).

2002       

  • First Vintage of Ship of Fools.

2003       

  • Begin using a mechanical harvester. The first in the region.

2004       

  • First Vintage of Pinot Noir Vin Gris.
  • Begin working with OMP grower Lineau/Porchside Vineyards.

2005       

  • Purchase of Kniss & Ochs properties to plant 22 acres (Baliwick Vineyard).
  • Winery Building L3 expanded.
  •  3.50 Acres of Chardonnay Replanted to Riesling.
  • Begin working with OMP growers Ligon, Lagina, Quinn, Kniss
  • 10,380 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2006       

  • Purchase Zafarana & Steen Vineyards 22 acres of existing vineyards.
  • Upgraded to fully automated Mechanical Harvester.
  • 8,600 gallons of fermenting tanks added

2007       

  • Best of Show Gold Los Angeles International Wine Competition, 2006 Edelzwicker.
  • Double Gold/Best of Class MI Wine Comp, 2005 Riesling Ice Wine.
  • Winery Receiving & New Press Room Expansion.
  • First Midwest Planting of Grüner Veltliner at Baliwick Vineyard.
  • Chateau Grand Traverse is founding member of International Riesling Foundation.
  • First visit to CGT by Riesling expert Stuart Pigott. CGT featured in his book Riesling Weit Weg.
  • Chateau Grand Traverse begins to distribute in NYC.
  • 21,000 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2008

  • Chateau Grand Traverse Launches new Logo and Label design.
  • New 20 ton capacity Europress added.
  • First Vintage Lot 49 Riesling.
  • 49,000 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2009       

  • Updated Traverse Bay Winery products introduced.
  • The Summer That Never Happened = Unusually cool vintage.
  • Planted 2.5 Acres of Riesling/Blaufränkisch at Steen Vineyards.

2010       

  • “Best of Class Award”  2008 Lot 49 Riesling,  London International Wine & Spirits Competition.
  • “Chairman Award” Unanimous Gold, Riverside International Wine Competition, CA.
  • 2007 Gamay Noir Reserve.
  • New MBF Wine Bottling line installed with 7o Btl./Min. production capability.
  • New Gregoire Mechanical Harvester added.
  • 17,250 gallons of fermenting tanks added

2011       

  • “Best of Class Award”  2009 Lot 49 Riesling & 2008 Riesling Ice Wine,  London International Wine & Spirits Competition.
  • “Best of Class Gold” 2009 Lot 49 Riesling & 2008 Riesling Ice Wine, San Francisco international Wine Competition.
  • 700 Barrel Aging and Storage facility constructed.
  • Begin working with OMP grower Jo Roek.
  • 2010 Whole Cluster makes Food & Wine top 10 editor’s picks for 2011.
  • CGT begins to distribute wine in Chicago, Washington D.C., Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul.
  • 11,500 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2012       

  • Winery opens a 14,000 Sq. Foot wine storage and shipping facility in Traverse City.
  • Eddie O’Keefe named Chairman, WineAmerica.
  • 2010 Lot 49 Riesling amazes wine critics at blind tasting of the world’s top Rieslings at 2012 Riesling Symposium in Melbourne, Australia.
  • 2010 Lot 49 Riesling is Jancis Robinson’s Wine of the Week (2/10/12).
  • Begin working with OMP grower Dean Johnson (Renegade Vineyard).
  • 19,000 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2013

  • Chateau Grand Traverse surpasses 100,000 cases in annual production.
  • Wines sold in 11 states and 2 countries.
  • Chateau Grand Traverse #7 overall selling wine Brand in State of Michigan.
  • 38 Year-Round, Full Time Employees.
  • Replanted 1.2 acres of Steen Gewürztraminer with Riesling.
  • CGT recognized as “Superstar” Michigan winery  in Jancis Robinson/Linda Murphy’s book American Wine.
  • CGT begins to distribute  wines in Wisconsin.
  • 4,400 gallons of fermenting tanks added.

2014

  • Chateau Grand Traverse celebrates its 40th  year.
  • CGT Tasting Room is remodeled, outdoor patio added.
  • Vice President Sean O’Keefe leaves position to become head winemaker at Villa Mari Vineyards.
  • Named one of the 101 Best Wineries in America by The Daily Meal.

2015

  • Rebranding of Grand Traverse Select label
  • New Reserve red wine label introduced
  • Etcetera White Blend wins Best of Class and Double Gold at Int’l Eastern Wine Comp.
  • Begin partnership “Wines of the Great Outdoors” with Michigan DNR

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