Rooted in Excellence

Our mission. Our team. Our history.

Located directly on the 45th parallel, we use our distinct location as the driving force behind our approach to crafting world class wines that represent the region. Using grapes from estate and regional vineyards, everything is handcrafted on-site with the goal of producing the most approachable, elegant wines possible.

Upper Vineyard ViewThe winery began in 2006 when Steve and Lori Grossnickle purchased a centennial farm on Michigan’s picturesque Leelanau Peninsula. Having owned a vacation cottage on nearby Little Traverse Lake since 1982, Steve, a former ophthalmologist from Indiana, and Lori had developed a real passion for Leelanau county and the growing local wine scene. The property sits in the middle of the peninsula among the rolling hills and offers a spectacular view of the pristine countryside. Soon after purchasing the land, they began working with the Leelanau Conservancy to donate a conservation easement on the land that restricts it from development and keeps the land in farming forever. Steve says his love for the peninsula is what inspired him to permanently protect the 100-acre farm:

“Leelanau is beyond spectacular. It should remain pristine, as it is.”

With a strong commitment to sustainable farming practices, the winery actively farms 35 acres of several varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Vignoles, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. The magic happens in the vineyard, as they say, but the finishing touches take place in the on-site production building where the grapes are crushed, refined, aged, bottled, and labeled. It’s truly a vineyard-to-bottle operation.

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Our Team

Dedicated to the Craft

Steve & Lori Grossnickle

Steve & Lori Grossnickle

Owners

These two are quite the pair. You can shoot the bull with these two all day! The western flair in the tasting room comes directly from Lori, a cowgirl at heart. When she’s not hanging around the tasting room, you can find her at home on their horse ranch in the Leelanau countryside. And you can find “Seve” in the tasting room just about every morning mopping the floors and popping popcorn for all the visitors. His love for wine shines through in all his stories from starting the winery to talking about why Cabernet Franc is his favorite varietal.

Alanna Grossnickle

Alanna Grossnickle

General Manager

Alanna’s usually behind-the-scenes keeping everything in check. She works diligently on the daily operations of all areas of the business. She also keeps the ball rolling to keep our future plans on track. In addition to maintaining the operations, she also manages the wine club, plans menus for events and prepares appetizers for 1,000s for LPVA attendees, and has a lot of fun buying for all of the retail merchandise for the tasting room. She plays an active role with the LPVA and chairs the LPVA board.

Jay Briggs

Jay Briggs

Winemaker

What can you say about Jay, he’s the heart of the winery. You can find him in the production building most of the time except when the guys are sneaking out to sample at other wineries, breweries, or cideries. Like they say, it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine … and they like to test that theory. It seems to be working so far. His exuberant personality brings a lot of fun days and laughs to the winery. He might not be too serious, but he is serious about his wines. He enjoys experimenting and creating new products like our Wild Cider and Citra Cider.

Channing Sutton

Channing Sutton

Tasting Room Manager

The best ever “wine slinger” and the most recognizable face at 45 North! She has a true passion for wine and, more specifically, the Michigan wine industry. Whatever she’s doing, she’s always wearing a smile. If she’s not behind the bar, you can find her in the vineyards leading snowshoers and skiers on our trail or leading private tours in the production building. She’s also a top notch concierge, always giving visitors the best advice on where to travel, eat, drink, and sleep on the peninsula.

Brian Grossnickle

Brian Grossnickle

Vineyard Manager

A.k.a. “Nuevo,” the vineyard leader. Brian is Steve and Lori’s oldest son, and moved here with his family from New Mexico almost two years ago to join the 45 North team. As a nationally award-winning earthenware potter, he’s used to getting his hands dirty. He loves working with the vines and has a real passion for sustainability in vineyard practices. He’s working diligently this year on MEAP-certifying the vineyard and prepping 5 acres to plant 500 apple trees as we increase cider production.

Paul Sanford

Paul Sanford

Cellarmaster

“You can’t teach clean,” is what our winemaker, Jay, says, and Paul keeps our cellar spotless. Paul is our sometimes electrician, on-site meteorologist, meme aficionado, and classic car movie trivia expert. When Paul is not battling the forces of grime protecting the welfare of our wines, you can find him with a glass of cider in hand sitting at a chessboard.

Eric Grossnickle

Eric Grossnickle

Designer

Eric is Steve and Lori’s middle child and is responsible for many design-related aspects of 45 North. By day, he works remotely as a web designer/developer for Bust Out Solutions in Minneapolis. But on the side, he’s our go-to guy for many things, creating our logo, some of the most beautiful and skillfully designed labels, silk-screened bottle art, ads, brochures, this website, and more.

Tasting Room Staff

Wine Connoisseurs

Our tasting room staff is the best! They are fun, friendly, and very knowledgable on wine. Some have been with us since the beginning. Stop by and you will be greeted by Kirstin, Tom, Ethan, Peter, Linda, Haley, Katelynn, or Jake!

The Dogs

Greeters

Many of our longtime customers will remember being greeted by sometimes several dogs at the front door. While they’re unfortunately no longer permitted inside the tasting room, if you visit on warmer days you’ll still likely see the staff’s furry kids wandering around outside (they’re all friendly). You’re welcome to bring your dog, just remember to keep it on a leash outside.

Our History

Award-Winning Since ’07

Purchased Centennial Farm

Formerly owned by local civil rights attorney, Dean Robb, the 100-acre property features rolling hills, wooded areas, a pond, and, of course, plenty of wide open farmland.

Planted 30-Acre Vineyard

Vineyard Planted

Not wasting any time, we went right to work putting the posts and vines in the ground. We planted Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Vignoles, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

Broke Ground on Production Building

Our state-of-the-art production building was designed to accommodate a 20,000 case/year production schedule.

Production Building Complete

First Vintage

First Vintage Production

While our own vineyard wouldn't fully produce for 3-4 years from initial planting, we purchased grapes from local growers for our first several vintages. Our 2007 vintage garnered several medals in national competitions which got us out of the gate at a full sprint.

Open for Tasting in Production Building

Temporary Tasting Room

Since we didn't have a tasting room at this point, we opened a temporary tasting area in the production building on weekends. Although not an ideal space, being amongst the tanks really added to the overall tasting experience.

Break Ground on Tasting Room

Tasting Room Framing

The reconstructed red barn on the property was originally supposed to be the tasting room, but due to unforeseen issues, we had to go to plan B. So we broke ground on a new post-and-beam barn with much of the same rustic character, but better suited to fit our needs.

Channing Joins the Team

Channing's bubbly personality and love for Michigan wine is undeniable. Her fun attitude has helped set the tone for all 45 North staff.

Cross-Country Ski & Snowshoe Trails Created

Cross-Country Ski Trailhead

Winters up north can sometimes feel a little long, but that doesn't mean we stop having fun! We began grooming trails through our vineyard and they've been gaining popularity every year.

Alanna Joins the Team

Alanna and Eric's time in Leelanau was originally meant to be a summer layover during their trek from San Francisco to Chicago, but the allure of being involved in a family business in a beautiful area turned out to be too strong.

Tasting Room Officially Opens

Grand Opening

Bocce Ball Courts & Firepit Constructed

We encourage our visitors to stick around, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere; during the warmer months, that usually means outside. Just off our deck, we constructed two bocce ball courts that are free-to-play and a firepit that allows us to enjoy the outdoors year-round.

First Full Harvest From Estate Vineyard

Harvest Grape Bin

Our first full harvest from our own vineyard allows us to begin producing some 100% estate-grown wines.

Jay Joins the Team

Jay Briggs

Jay formerly worked for eight years as a vineyard manager and was ready to make the transition into winemaking. His passion and dedication was immediately clear to us, so we jumped at the opportunity to give him that chance.

Best Growing Season on Record

Everyone around here remembers the summer of '12 — it was long, hot, and resulted in one of the best seasons on record which turned out some of our best wines so far.

Brian Joins the Team

Formerly a skilled potter living in New Mexico, Brian and his family moved to the area and he has taken on the role of vineyard manager.

Concrete Egg Tank Arrives

This unique fermentation vessel provides alternative qualities compared to traditional stainless steel and oak, such as breathability and insulation. Our first wine made in it—2013 Pinot Gris—racked up 3 double gold medals at national competitions.

Mountain Bike Trail Developed

Biking the Upper Vineyard

What happens when employees are cycling nuts? They blaze a trail through the property, of course. With help from the non-profit organization, SEEDS, our trail is now IMBA-certified and we'll be hosting our first event on Sep. 13, 2015 called the 45 Barrel Roll.

Planted 500 Apple Trees

In an effort to expand our hard cider production, we've carved out a section of the property and planted high-density apple trees. Although we've always used local apples in our ciders, in a few years we'll able to make estate-grown ciders.