Our vineyard was established in 1974 when Lew Carlson, George Beech and Jim Dempsey, faculty members at Western Michigan University, planted a wide variety of French hybrid grapes on a former peach orchard near Lawton, Michigan. The site features high ground, good for cold air drainage, which allows the growing of grape varieties sensitive to early and late frosts. Over the years, more acres were added along with major plantings: Chambourcin and Pinot Grigio. Some of the grapes were used for home wine making (the original purpose of the vineyard) while the remaining grapes went to St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw. Since 2007, our first commercial vintage, the majority of the grapes harvested from this little vineyard on the ridge have been used to produce Lawton Ridge Winery wines.
In the mid-1990s, Bill Harrison and Dean Bender became sole owners of the vineyard and expanded the plantings to include Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Traminette. The plantings are just over 10 acres, with one more acre on the parcel to be planted.