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 late Steven 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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Photo of the Grossnickle Family

(L to R: Katie, Kati, Mica, Lori, Alanna, Eric, Maren, Hildy, Brian, not pictured-Wynne)

45 North continues to be family owned and operated, keeping Steve’s dream alive. It was the winery, Leelanau’s pure beauty, and family that drew the entire family to plant permanent roots in Northern Michigan. Eric & Alanna moving from San Francisco, Brian, Hildy, Mica, & Kati moving from Albuquerque, and Steve, Lori, and Katie moving from Indiana. The winery continues to thrive as we pour our love into this adventure, and we hope it shows.

Cheers to the good times!
-The Grossnickle Family

Our Team

Dedicated to the Craft

Alanna Grossnickle

General Manager

Alanna’s usually behind-the-scenes working diligently on the daily operations and keeping future plans on track. In addition to maintaining the operations, she also started the wine club in 2011, 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 chaired the LPVA board for many years as well as the Traverse Wine Coast board of directors. She is married to Eric Grossnickle, designer and creative director for the winery. She enjoys spending free time with her husband and two girls, Maren & Wynne.

Jay Briggs

Winemaker

Jay’s exuberant and positive attitude keep the vibe in the winery light, bright, and fun! He’s talent speaks for itself through the wines. Many of his wines have earned high ratings and medals at numerous international wine competitions. He studied enology and viticulture at MSU and has been with us since 2012. When Jay isn’t at the winery find him with his wife Coryn, cheering on their daughters Lily & Irena at volleyball games. He also enjoys all things wine, biking, cooking, and raw denim.

Brian Grossnickle

Vineyard Manager

Brian joined us from New Mexico in 2013. As a nationally award-winning earthenware potter, he was used to getting his hands dirty. He loves working outside with the vines and has a real passion for sustainability in vineyard practices. He was quick to MEAP certify the vineyard. And he’s truly a steward of the land, working towards organic farming with minimal sprays, organic sprays, and no herbicide usage in our vineyards at all. In his free time find him with his wife Hildy, and girls, Mica & Kati heading to the beach, cooking up a feast, or on long bike rides.

Ben Gulow

Tasting Room Manager

Ben, a Leelanau native, has a true passion for the area. He has been with us since 2019 and his passion for customer service shows! If you’ve met Ben, you know that his approachable and accommodating demeanor coupled with his love for educating guests on wine make for an unforgettable experience. When He’s not working find him with his wife, Jenna — playing/watching all kinds of sports, watching movies and TV shows, traveling and cooking, gaming of all varieties (video, card, and board), and listening to podcasts. He’s also a big fan of the natural world, animals, and conservation.

Sarah Amman

Assistant Tasting Room Manager

Even though you’ll catch Sarah behind the bar regularly, she works hard behind the scenes to make sure the tasting room operations are in order from food ordering to tasting room supply needs. Her fun loving and bubbly personality make guests feel welcome and at home at 45 North. When Sarah is not at the winery, find her baking, party planning, or on a hike with her two adorable pups, Auggie & Georgia.

Brenda Konkle

Wine Club Manager

Brenda joined the team in 2020 and her position quickly pivoted to managing the wine club with her quick wit, her spark for taking care of our guests, and her organizational skills-  she’s here to meet all of your wine club needs. In her free time you can find her out on her paddle board, hanging out with friends, or snuggling up with her cats and a glass of wine.

Corbin Schlott

Account Manager

Corbin has been with the winery since 2016 and manages all wholesale accounts for the winery. His sense of humor, calm demeanor, and ability to go above and beyond for guests brings a bright spot to our team. In his free time you can find him with his wife, Nicole, in the UP visiting old favorites from his college days at Northern. Corbin enjoys all craft beverages, classic rock, and the outdoors.

Hannah Gaither

Cellar Assistant

Hannah joined us in 2021 and has already been an asset to our team. She has a degree in viticulture and has had hands on experience working in a large scale winery. Her positive attitude and willingness to lend a hand where needed make her a pleasure to be around. She says working at 45 doesn’t feel like work because its fun, exciting and she loves the people she works with. When she’s not at work, you can find her teaching kids in the 4-H program, going on road trips, at the gym, or just enjoying life with her family and friends.

Eric Grossnickle

Designer

Eric is responsible for all design-related aspects of 45 North. From Creating our logo, designing labels, ads, brochures, this website, and more. By day, he works remotely as a web designer/developer for Bust Out in Minneapolis. When he’s not working his day job or moonlighting for the winery find him heading to the beach with Alanna, and their two girls, Maren & Wynne.

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.

Broke Ground on Production Building

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

Planted 30-Acre Vineyard

Vineyard Planted

The following spring, we went to work putting the posts and vines in the ground. We planted Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Vignoles, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

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.

45 Barrel Roll

Brian riding along the vineyard

The inaugural bike race event held on our own mountain bike trail. The afterparty featured live music, barbecue, and special barrel-aged cider crafted specifically for the event. Check out more photos from the event.

Vineyard Pergola Constructed

Dinner in the Vines

Set in the middle of the vineyard, our vineyard pergola is a picturesque location for weddings, dinners, and special events.