My daughter Marissa and I stopped by Chateau Chantal the other day – a cold and snowy wintery day – and I took the opportunity to grab this photo of the folks who were there at the moment. Marissa has worked at the Chateau for the past couple of years and wanted to say hi before heading back to MSU. Pictured in the photo, left to right, is Kyle Brownley, Marie-Chantal Dalese, Marissa Boursaw and Bob Begin.
I’ve interviewed Chateau Chantal founder Bob Begin many times over the years for local publications like Northern Express, Traverse City Business News and Traverse City Record-Eagle, dating back to 1993 when they first opened the doors of their brand new B&B, winery and vineyard estates. He is one of the sweetest people I know, as is his wife Nadine and daughter Marie-Chantal, who is now the president and CEO of Chateau Chantal.
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Their path to open the Chateau was not easy, but Bob had a vision right from the beginning and was laser-focused on that vision. These days, we don’t think much about a new winery opening on the Old Mission Peninsula. It’s part of who we are. Part of our shared history.
But back then, a winery like Chateau Chantal was akin to building a big development like “The 81 on East Bay.” People crowded the township meetings and public hearings to learn more about how this new winery would impact our small cherry-farming community. My dad, Walter Johnson, a local historian who helped to found Peninsula Township’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program, was opposed to Chateau Chantal. Sorry about that, Bob.
But it all turned out alright. Bob helped to pave the way for what’s known as agri-tourism, which blends agriculture and tourism in such a way that it keeps most of the land in agriculture in a sustainable way. And what would you rather see – vineyards or houses dotting our landscape?
Read more about the Begin’s fascinating journey to opening Chateau Chantal on the Old Mission Peninsula here. And check out the “Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula” (of which Chateau Chantal is a part) website here.