The job of a farmer is never done. To do it well, they must think critically and instinctively to determine the vast number of influences a plant may be under at any given time. The work is labor intensive, never just 9-5, and with all the effort and best intentions — mother nature gets the final say. It’s an incredible career, worthy of the utmost respect and this region is lucky enough to have generations of farm families that still tend the land today.
The Gallagher family is one of them. Creighton Gallagher of Rove Estate is a 5th generation farmer from one of the first farm families in the region. Today, the grassroots farming philosophy, a drive for adventure, and emphasis on family are what shaped the business he and his wife, McKenzie have built.
Rove Estate lives by the French wisdom that “wine is made in the vineyard.” As you happen by the estate on M-72 or drive up the path to the tasting room, you’ll see Creighton working diligently out in the vineyard.
The land itself has been in the family for three generations; acres of 40 year old cherry trees were nearing the end of production when McKenzie and Creighton took ownership in 2010. The property’s southern exposed slope, ultimate cool air drainage and sandy soils were the perfect conditions for grapes. So, in 2011 they decided to convert the orchard to a vineyard.
This decision came with risk of course, as farming and small business each individually do. But Creighton and McKenzie aren’t willing to shy away from something difficult, even when things can’t be guaranteed. They encourage and choose adventure as opposed to the path already carved. It’s what ‘Rove’ is all about, defined as “a journey without a destination.”
The Gallagher’s opened Rove Estate’s Tasting Room in 2016. Here they serve clean, crisp, award-winning wines characteristic of this region. The space is family-friendly and filled with live music on almost every Friday night. The community has not only embraced Rove, but related to its style in a way that encourages the Gallagher’s to remain true to their authentic selves.
You’ll find people outside enjoying the view at Rove Estate every day. These views are spectacular and it’s to be expected, because the location can also claim the highest point of elevation in all of Leelanau county. The new “Rover Trail” will take you to the exact point of 1,165 ft. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic and bottle of estate grown wine.
True to the nature of wine, each vintage is different. You can actually taste the difference if there was more rain, sun or cooler temperatures; every bottle is like a time capsule of the growing season for that year. As farmers, the Gallagher’s put everything into their crop and yet remain vulnerable to mother nature. But, they choose to take the good with the bad and remain optimistic because the magic is: each year of hard work, dedication, and unpredictable weather is captured in a bottle.
Tricia Phelps is the Operations Director at Taste the Local Difference. She lives in Leelanau county and has enjoyed countless glasses on the Rove Estate porch, with an accompanying and highly recommended Rove cheese plate.
Don’t miss Fall Family Days at Rove Estate! Select Saturdays in October, TBA. Families can enjoy vineyard wagon rides, and kids can press their own glass of apple juice while the adults enjoy their own preferred beverage.