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Brys Estate’s Secret Garden

Click on image to see edited/printed version.
Click on image to see edited/printed version.

By Dianna Stampfler

Tucked back in off Blue Water and Center roads in the heart of the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, a lush 12-acre “Secret Garden” is waiting to be explored.

The new agricultural space in the far northeast corner of the Brys Estate property is the latest edition to Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery (brysestate.com).

“We had a beautiful low-lying area near the winery that wasn’t suitable for grapes,” says Eileen Brys, who opened the winery in 2005 with her husband, Walter.

“This expansive valley really is such a unique spot and it’s hidden from road-view, so that’s what makes it a ‘Secret Garden.’”

More than 5,000 lavender plants, along with blueberries, strawberries, culinary herbs and a perennial flower garden will welcome guests this summer.

Visitors will find both fresh and dried lavender bunches, hand-made lavender items for adults, kids and pets, lavender-scented bath and body products in the 1000-square-foot farmhouse-inspired garden shop. A picnic area and play space for the kids will make this a true family destination, from May through the fall season.

Over the past few years, the Brys have worked meticulously to create a truly unique venue.

Attached to the original winery building, an 1,800-square-foot elevated “Upper Deck” offers seating for up to 48 guests, providing unparalleled views of the vineyard and East Grand Traverse Bay. The deck also features a tasting room, where visitors can purchase wine by the glass to pair with a selection of imported cheeses, cured meats, nuts, olives and hummus. It is open from spring through fall, weather permitting.

Just three steps up, the “Bridge Above the Vines” is the only place in Michigan where you can literally walk over the vines—six rows of chardonnay grapes, to be specific. The bridge, says Eileen, has become a popular place for “selfies” and for couples to get engaged.

Inside the main building, a brick and mahogany tasting room provides a warm and comforting space to sample the vast portfolio of Brys wines.

Before leaving, be sure to take a peek inside the vaulted barrel and cask rooms, where award-winning red wines are aged to perfection under the watchful eye of master vintner, Coenraad Stassen.

Several years ago, the Brys also converted a former barn on the 91-acre property into an 1100-square-foot storybook guesthouse, with two bedrooms, two baths, a fully equipped kitchen, great room and covered porch complete with wicker chairs.  Guesthouse visitors are invited to stroll the grounds, where more than 40,000 grape vines provide the fruit for the winery’s estate wines, and a quick walk through the vines to the tasting room allows guests to totally immerse themselves in the elegant country experience.

For more information, visit brysestate.com.


Reprinted from the Summer 2016 issue of Michigan BLUE Magazine.