Hawthorne Vineyards makes its debut on Old Mission Peninsula

My beautiful picture

The new Hawthorne Vineyards, still under construction in this photo, sits on a ridge above the West Bay. (Photo by Sandra Silfven)

Hawthorne is a rich, lyrical word — nature-inspired in a way that suits Old Mission Peninsula’s newest winery.

Owners Bruce and Cathleen Hawthorne built Hawthorne Vineyards on a quiet ridge overlooking rolling acres of grapevines and the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. Their secluded location makes you feel a part of nature.

Cathleen is a master gardener with a soft spot for farming and saw the potential to make wine at an 80-acre farm that was for sale in 2005.

“I just love gardening and always wanted to have a farm. I had this dream,” Cathleen says.

Hawthorne Vineyards had a quiet opening on May 1, but will turn up the volume with music, wine tastings and appetizers from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 25,  all free of charge, for the Grand Opening.

Hawthorne Vineyards is only the eighth winery on scenic Old Mission where grape vines mingle with cherry trees.

When the Hawthornes purchased the farm, it already had some vineyards in place, along with cherry and plum trees. They planted more vinifera to bring the total number of acres in vines to 26, with more plantings scheduled.

Wines ready for sale include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc-Merlot, Gamay Noir and Merlot.


Winemaker Brian Hosmer.

Winemaker Brian Hosmer.

Brian Hosmer from Chateau Chantal is winemaker and Paul Dalese, also at Chantal, manages the vineyards. But Cathleen knows the process — she completed three courses at the University of California-Davis to understand all the wine speak. She and Bruce traveled in Napa, Sonoma and Oregon to prepare for their venture and took Brian to the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Ore., “to show him the style of Pinot Noir we like.”

“Our wines, especially our Pinot Noir and our Pinot Blanc, are ‘pure Pinots,’ ” Cathleen says. “They reflect the pure Michigan where they are grown.”

Hawthorne’s 2010 Pinot Noir has good color, supple tannins, lots of body and intense cherry-berry fruit. It has an edge of earthiness and minerality.

The whites have a nice strain of minerality in them — including the crisp, dry Pinot Blanc showcasing lime zest and grapefruit; the austere, spicy, floral Pinot Grigio with softer mouthfeel from a portion of the juice fermented in acacia barrels;  and the lean, tart-dry, Chablis-style unwooded Chardonnay.

The 2010 Reserve barrel-fermented Chardonnay is a tropical cocktail infused with just enough spicy oak to let you know it’s there.

I especially love the 2010 Cabernet Franc-Merlot that is fermented together, not separately, in proportions that Hosmer doesn’t know — now that’s letting the wine have its own say. The Cab Franc is right up front on the palate with its cranberry, cherry, herb tones; the Merlot with its dark plum and brown baking spice gives the wine length.

I also tasted the 2012 Gewurztraminer still in the tank — with spot-on rose petal, lichee nut, herbal character.

The attractive winery with fieldstone trim was designed and built by Traverse City architect Bradley Wheeler.

Decorator Rebecca Whitehead of Traverse City chose the color palette — deep purple, green, blue and gold.

The entry has a barreled ceiling and the tasting counter is granite with dark wood trim. There is a fireplace on the porch.

Cathleen’s touch is reflected throughout — from the wood moldings and trim to the large arched windows: “I don’t know a wall that doesn’t like a window. You should feel like you are a part of the outside.”

Keep that in mind when you visit and experience those spectacular views.

The tasting room manager is Jan Van Maanen, formerly of Birmingham, Mich.

Bruce Hawthorne works as a lawyer; Cathleen is a retired teacher. They have three grown children and three grandchildren, and spent a lot of years working in other states but now reside in Buelah, Mich.

Both have deep roots here — she is a graduate of Milford High School in Highland and Bruce of Fordson in Dearborn. They are graduates of the University of Michigan.

Cathleen’s ancestors were homesteaders up north in the 1800s and bought the Platte Lake Hotel in Benzie County.

Cathleen is passionate about their boutique winery and its potential for fine wine grown in a place gaining recognition around the world.

“You can taste the Michigan in our wines,” she says.


Visit Hawthorne Vineyards on Saturday, May 25, for a celebration that includes music, food and wine tastings. It runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.


It’s located 4 miles north of Traverse City off Peninsula Drive between Wilson Road and Grey Road on Old Mission Peninsula. The address is 1000 Camino Maria Drive. You also can reach it off M-37 at Grey Road. Go west on Grey to Peninsula Drive, turn left, and drive a short distance to Camino Maria Drive, where there will be a sign for the winery. Call (231) 929-4106. The Web site offers directions.

You can contact Sandra Silfven at ssilfven@hotmail.com.

This side of the winery looks toward the vineyards. Cathleen Hawthorne helped gather Petoskey stones for the project. (Photo by Sandra Silfven)

This side of the winery looks toward the vineyards. Cathleen Hawthorne helped gather the rocks for the project. (Photo by Sandra Silfven)