ob Jacobson spent his childhood
summers playing among the
grapevines on his family's Omena,
Mich. vineyard. He was just a tod-
dler when his dad, Mike, at the time a
Grand Rapids attorney, decided to try his
hand at growing grapes.
"There was only one other vineyard in
Michigan in the mid-1970s," says Bob, 32.
"My dad was already farming some land in
Northport, on Traverse Bay, and thought he
should give grapes a shot." The Jacobsons'
Leelanau Wine Cellars produced its first
bottle in 1977, and father and son have
been vintners ever since.
"We produce and sell 35,000 cases a
year," says Bob. Shawn Walters, 32, is their
winemaker, and Bob and Mike run the
business end. Since joining his father, Bob
has seen the winery rebuilt and the vine-
yard expanded. "We might even build a
second winery in Sutton's Bay," he says.
The Leelanau Wine Cellars wine list
includes premium Pinots, a Grand Reserve
Chardonnay, and a Late Harvest
Johannesburg Riesling ("the finest we have
ever produced"), as well as two port wines.
Of the 2003 table wines, Bob's favorite is
the Sleeping Bear Red, a blend of Gamay
Noir, Pinot Noir and Baco Noir.
Novi and at a renovation project in Pontiac.
"We have more success with whites than
Although a plane seems a viable option,
reds," says Bob. "The climate here is not
Bob prefers to travel by car. A harrowing
like California, obviously. Michigan's grow-
incident in a small plane keeps him ground-
ing season is more like Burgundy, in
France, or the German regions."
Interestingly, a conversation with Bob
Lake Michigan greatly affects the grow-
constructing second-chance homes
ing of fruit. In the spring, the lake keeps
the air cool, so the buds are
less likely to pop too early. In
the fall, warm winds from the
water keep the grapes from
frosting out. Last winter, there
were so many days with tem-
peratures below zero, the
Jacobsons lost a lot of grapes.
"We're counting on secondary
and tertiary buds for this har-
vest," says Bob.
Bob divides his time 50/50
between the winery and his
Bob Jacobson, of
Novi company, HDC
Leelanau Wine Cellars,
Construction, a real estate
savors one of his
development and construction
business focusing on low-
income housing. In this ven-
for pregnant teens is just as enthusiastic as
ture, Bob also joins his dad. Every two or
his passion for Pinot Noir. "Business is
three weeks, the multi-discipline entrepre-
business," he says. And it's clear he loves
neur treks between his home in Ann Arbor
all of the challenges of his diverse enter-
and the Leelanau Wine Cellars in Omena.
When he's not Up North, he spends days in