Black Star Farms

Lee Lutes, Winemaker 

Born and raised in Michigan, Lee Lutes has been a resident of Traverse City since 1975.  He graduated in 1987 from Michigan State University with a BA in Finance. Lee has been making wine professionally and/or at an amateur level for 18 years.

Lee has committed substantial time in the wine regions of South Australia, Barossa Valley and Long Island, New York prior to living in Northern Italy as an assistant winemaker at Abbazia di Valle Chiara.

Returning to his home state of Michigan in 1993 to work as an assistant winemaker at Leelanau Wine Cellars, he founded Peninsula Cellars with Kroupa Family, Old Mission Peninsula, in 1994 where he remained as winemaker and general manager until 1998.

In 1998 Lee was hired to develop and manage the construction of the winery at Black Star Farms on the Leelanau Peninsula where he currently resides as winemaker/distiller/general manager of this 25,000 case winery.

Lee currently sits as a board member of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association, a marketing group working with the Leelanau Peninsula wineries in the promotion of the region and its unique viticultural products. He also sits on the board of the Leelanau Horticultural Society, a non-profit group with interests in marketing, promotion and education of the Leelanau Peninsula’s diverse horticultural community.

Lee travels extensively on an annual basis to primary viticultural and horticultural regions of the U.S. and Europe as well as attending annual trade shows and seminars for educational purposes. A personal goal is to help showcase the exceptional wine quality and regional beauty of northwest Michigan while promoting viticulture as an agricultural alternative to land division and urban sprawl.

Recently completed was the expansion of Black Star Farms into a neighboring appellation, The Old Mission Peninsula AVA, with a new winery and tasting room. Black Star Farms is now the first winery in northwest Michigan to make wine in both appellations, further enhancing its emphasis on regionally specific bottlings of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.