The Simpson family first planted their roots on the Leelanau Peninsula in the cherry industry back in the 1950s. It wasn’t until the 1970s when John Simpson sent his son, Bruce Simpson to attend the University of California Davis to learn about viticulture and oenology, that the thought of planting vineyards was considered. Following Bruce’s return from the University, vineyards were planted and Good Harbor Vineyards was opened in 1980 by Bruce and his wife Debbie. Good Harbor was the fourth winery established on the Leelanau Peninsula and remained one of four operating wineries until the mid 1990’s when another handful of tasting rooms decided to open as well.
Bruce always had a great appreciation for the potential growth of the Michigan Wine Industry. In turn, he became a pioneer in the Michigan wine industry. He co-founded the Leland Business Association and the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association - Michigan's first wine trail - now boasting almost 30 wineries. He also co-founded the Leland Wine Festival, now one of the state's largest and oldest wine festivals.
Good Harbor began by producing a variety of hybrids and fruit wines, while the industry was in its infancy and learning what could survive, grow, and thrive on the Leelanau Peninsula. As the years passed and more research was conducted, an increasing amount of vinifera was planted and the clones of those varieties were refined to ensure success. Today, Good Harbor dedicates its 125 acres of prime vineyard sites to growing and producing Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner, and Pinot Noir. There is also an assortment of Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Zweigelt, Lemberger, and Cabernet Franc that are grown in much smaller quantities.
Good Harbor Vineyards is now owned and operated by the second generation, siblings Sam and Taylor Simpson. A Spartan alum, Sam's background is in viticulture, enology, finance and economics. Taylor, a Wolverine, brings a deep wine sales, distribution and marketing experience from her years working at the largest wine and spirits distributor in the world. While gameday competition in the Simpson household can get fierce, both siblings have hopes of continuing the family legacy and helping with the growth of the Michigan wine industry. The vision for the business is to provide a variety of avenues and diverse options for people to enter, grow, and thrive in the wine industry. The siblings are committed to building upon the foundation of what their grandparents and parents started and hope to be able to grow a business that their families can carry on into the future.