Good Harbor Bay and How The Vineyards of Good Harbor Benefit From It

Devon Kessler
July 22, 2022 | Tasting Room | Devon Kessler

Good Harbor Bay and How The Vineyards of Good Harbor Benefit From It

Good Harbor Bay

Location, location, location. Michigan is known as a “cool climate” wine growing region which means our area experiences a later spring and an earlier harvest. At Good Harbor Vineyards, the vast majority of our vineyards are located within two miles of the Good Harbor basin region. 

With the vast majority of our vineyards being located where they are, they benefit immensely from Lake Michigan. In the spring, the lake helps keep the temperatures in the vineyard cool. Since the Leelanau Peninsula is susceptible to late spring frosts, the proximity of the vineyards to the lake help prevent them from progressing as fast and lessen the chance of them being damaged during a spring frost. Just like the spring temperatures, the warm fall temperatures experienced in Northern Michigan are just as important. During the summer, Good Harbor Bay warms up causing the air temperatures in our vineyards to remain warmer during a critical period in fruit development. We are able to gain additional growing time in September to help extend the harvest. 

Together, Lake Michigan and Good Harbor Bay act as moderators for temperatures throughout the year. Our vines are protected through the sometimes harsh Northern Michigan winters due to the lake keeping the temperatures warmer and providing lake effect snowfall. If we didn’t have the body of water surrounding our area, we would experience too low temperatures causing frost and prohibiting growers from growing vinifera grapes.

With temperatures staying cooler longer in the spring, buds are able to dormant later in the season. During the season, the Leelanau Peninsula gets a nice, cool consistent breeze off the lake that helps with disease control in the vineyards. “The farther you migrate inland away from the water, the less of an impact the lake makes on the vineyards which is why almost all of our vineyards are within 2 miles of the Good Harbor Basin,” explains Good Harbor Vineyards Co-Owner Sam Simpson.

Back in 1980 when Good Harbor Vineyards began, founder John W. Simpson selected specific sites to start farming on the Leelanau Peninsula. When he started farming, he had his eye on sites with high elevation, great airflow, and southwest facing slopes - which are ideal for growing cherries. Historically, the sites he purchased were planted for tart cherries, however,  they are also ideal sites to grow grapes! In the 80s, some of the cherry trees were uprooted to make room for the several acres of vineyards.  As Good Harbor Vineyards and the overall wine industry has grown, much of the cherry acreage has been converted to grapes due to the ideal terroir.



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