Women in Wine
DEBBIE SIMPSON, Co-Founder of Good Harbor Vineyards
In celebration of Women this March, we want to recognize the efforts of Debbie Simpson in the establishment and growth of Good Harbor Vineyards. Debbie discovered the Leelanau Peninsula as a teenager when she attended high-school at the Leelanau School in Glen Arbor. It was there she met Bruce Simpson. She left the area to pursue her degree in Art Education at Michigan State University. Following graduation, she made her way west where she spent time working in Portland, Oregon. She and Bruce continued their courtship post college, while he was attending the University of California, Davis.
Upon the completion of his studies, they made the decision to get married and return to the Leelanau Peninsula to run the Simpson family cherry farm, plant vines, and build and open Good Harbor Vineyards. It wasn’t long after they moved back to the Leelanau Peninsula that they had their first child and began their family.
Debbie’s role at Good Harbor was operating the tasting room, creation of label and brand design, and general customer service - on top of being a full-time mom. Debbie was a natural at customer service. As a result, she built a loyal clientele through the years that enjoyed stopping in to talk one-on-one with her and to have a connection with the owner and the family story. Her charm, charisma, clever wit, humor, and honesty is what many customers grew to love.
Her love of art and education made the Good Harbor brand and labels stand out on the shelves in a growing Michigan wine category. She wanted to integrate her love for art and decided to contact local artists to request permission to use their artwork on the Good Harbor labels. Her love of art and family is what helped make the Good Harbor brand stand out. The high-quality wine, the affordable pricing, and the inviting atmosphere and excellent customer service that Debbie inspired in the Good Harbor tasting room is what kept customers coming back year after year.
After forty years of dedication to the growth of Good Harbor Vineyards, the Michigan wine industry, and her family, Debbie finally decided to retire and pass on the business to her children to see the family farming legacy continue. She now enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, making more time to enjoy the local area with her friends, and taking more time to travel and seek adventure. Her efforts within the wine industry are not often written about publicly, but her impact to help grow the brand with each new and returning customer are significant. Her commitment to the business, her passion for people, and her love for family are all values that are at the core of Good Harbor Vineyards. We value her hard work and are grateful to be able to recognize her as an important figure at Good Harbor. Thank you, Debbie!