A northern Michigan winemaker since 1973, Mawby Wines in Suttons Bay on the Leelanau Peninsula has added to its ownership group, expanded its food and wine pairing events, and in January launched a strategic rebranding.
“We had different offerings under Mawby Wines — L. Mawby, and M. Lawrence — but then we realized through our rebranding process that almost without exception everyone refers to us as Mawby,” says Larry Mawby, founder and now co-owner of L. Mawby Vineyards. “I’m getting older, and it was time to step back a bit and let the next generation take over.”
Specializing in sparkling wines, the vintner, which refers to its line of 15 offerings as the United Bubbles of Mawby, is looking forward to a banner year. Since 2016, it has annually produced around 20,000 cases on 30 acres of vineyards, along with leasing nearby land for grape production and buying grape juice from other farmers.
That comes on the heels of two challenging years in 2014 and 2015 when many of the grapes in northern Michigan couldn’t be harvested due to a late fall hail and other poor weather conditions.
Mike Laing, and his brother, Peter, who combined have 20 years of experience with Mawby, have been named partners of the winemaking business. After growing up in Ann Arbor, their parent’s planted grapes in Leelanau County in 2003, and they started selling their fruit to Mawby in 2005.
Mike says he and his brother’s vision for the company aligns with Mawby — to create the finest sparkling wines while respecting the land.
“We sell our wines across Michigan and in 14 other states in such places as Kroger, Meijer, wine stores, and restaurants, and we will look to expand in the future,” says Mike. “Gone is the confusion of multiple brands. With the name of Mawby, we created new bottle labels that show a bubble, and within each bubble, the name of the wine. It’s being well-received.”
In June, the vintner will expand its food and wine pairings beyond its tasting room right into the field with a table set amid the vines. It also plans to expand its private label operation, which today includes wines for the Apparatus Room at the Foundation Hotel in downtown Detroit, along with the Grand Hotel, Mission Point Resort, the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, and other venues.
The rebranding campaign also will direct more attention to Mawby’s sparkling wines and ciders, which are produced by fermenting the wine twice to standards perfected over many years. The second fermentation takes place in a closed vessel, and produces a natural effervescence (the wines are not carbonated).
The process elicits a fresher and fruiter wine, say the owners. The company has 13 fulltime employees and 30 part time employees.