Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery
Like many of us, our histories begin with our dreams fueling a way of life. Originally from the Detroit area, Walter and Eileen Brys visited the Napa Valley in the 1970's as part of a business trip when Walter worked for Blue Cross of Michigan shortly after they were married. They immediately fell in love with the vineyard and winery concept and spent the next 30 years dreaming about someday starting a vineyard and winery. During those 30 years, Walter's career in real-estate development took the family to Houston, Texas, where Walt, Eileen, a stay-at-home mom, and their three children, Katie, Patrick and Stephanie lived until 1998 when Walt and Eileen became empty-nesters. About that time, Walt retired from his real estate development career and the couple relocated to Florida to begin their early retirement. They quickly realized that retirement was not for them and they began thinking about their 30-year dream of starting a vineyard and winery. They began traveling the country searching for the ideal vineyard land as well as an ideal location to call "home."
Walt and Eileen returned to Texas to check out the land in the Hill Country where many vineyards and wineries were popping up. Since their son, Patrick and daughter, Stephanie had attended Pepperdine University in California, the Brys also had an opportunity to search most of the California wine growing regions while they were visiting their kids. Their search also included the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Finger Lakes region in New York State. In 1999, after nearly two years of traveling and searching for the ideal location with no success, Walt and Eileen decided to return to their home state of Michigan, after being gone for 20 years, to explore the wine regions of Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas around Traverse City. They had heard that this area was an up and coming wine growing region, and a place where beauty and scenery abound. Traverse City offered all the amenities that they were looking for including a regional airport, a quaint and vibrant city with all the conveniences, and surrounded by the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan. They also found that the area had ideal fertile land, where cherry and fruit orchards dot the landscape and which had earned it the name of "Cherry Capital of the World." These conditions made it an ideal area for growing vinifera wine grapes.