Rove Estate: Creighton and McKenzie Gallagher – Fifth-Generation Farmers

Written by Amanda Renkiewicz

Photos – Captured by Grace Photography (Grace Hudson)

Thinking of a Northern Michigan wine tour or a day trip to enjoy the breathtaking Northern Michigan beauty and lovely winery venues? Consider Rove Estates as a stop on your travel itinerary!

Over three hundred years ago, thousands of Irish citizens were forced to flee their native land in what is historically known as the “Flight of the Wild Geese.” What most history books don’t record is that a large number of these refugees went on to establish some of the most renowned wineries across the globe. These forgotten Irish craftsmen and their ancestors are reverently named “Winegeese.”

As fifth-generation farmers of Irish heritage, Creighton and McKenzie Gallagher established Rove Estate to pay homage to the Winegeese and preserve their family’s unique legacy. Perched at the highest point on the Leelanau Peninsula located in beautiful Northern Michigan—1,165 feet—the estate was born from the Gallagher farmland and has been an integral part of Traverse City’s history for nearly 130 years. Creighton and McKenzie have four beautiful children, who carry on their family farming legacy. They actively include them and expose them to the agricultural industry, sharing a way of life that is a rarity in today’s day and age.

As a child, Creighton spent his summer days working on the cherry farm with his father and 9 siblings. Wishing to break free from the farming lifestyle, he pursued a degree in accounting, only to discover that working in a cubicle gave him an unshakable feeling of discontent. Eventually, he developed a passion and craft for wine while working at a winery on Old Mission Peninsula. Creighton returned to his roots in 2010 when he and McKenzie purchased land with a large block of cherry trees that needed to be replaced. For a couple whose first date included wine tasting, and who often dreamt of opening their own winery, the replacement crop was an obvious choice: grapes.

Rove: A Destination Elevated

The terroir of Gallagher’s farm and the rich diversity in the soil creates unique aromatics and characteristics in Rove’s small-batch artisan wines. Due to their elevation at 1165 feet, the landscape creates prime conditions for premium estate-grown grapes: southern-exposed slopes, abundant sunlight, and cool-air drainage with protection from the frost.  The estate currently grows nine different varietals of vinifera grapes, including three reds. Rove is committed to using only estate-grown grapes, except in the rare instance of crop damage (in such a case, the Estate would be partnering closely with vineyards emulating our landscape, values, and practices). 

Award-winning wines abound! In less than 4 years, Rove Estate has received over 45 awards and accolades for its wine at both the national and international levels. McKenzie Gallagher serves on the Traverse Wine Coast board as a founding winery member and is committed along with her peers to establish Northern Michigan’s wine country on people’s radar both nationally and internationally.

As of 2020, the Gallagher’s are working on expanding their vineyards (an additional 10-15 acres are planned over the next few years), along with making plans to build a production facility on their estate. The winery’s expansion continues to bring exciting new ventures while holding true to their roots of estate-grown grapes and local first.

Giving back to those in need remains an integral part of Rove Estate. The annual St. Jude Sunset in the Vines summer event offers a featured dinner, artisan wine, live music, live and silent auctions, and a patient speaker. The contributions help ensure that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Through the goodness of our guests and our commitment to helping children with illnesses, $93,500 has been raised for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Enjoy magical views from Rove Estate’s extensive deck seating while you feast on an all-local charcuterie board with a glass (or two). The interior of the tasting room is absolutely celestial, with ceilings that go on forever and immense windows that frame breathtaking scenery. As an homage to Ireland, their green walls and tireless spirit are inspiring and authentically Gaelic. Rove Estate is definitely a MUST stop, for both locals and visitors. They frequently host live music on their patio throughout the warmer months (and even during the winter months music is offered inside), along with fabulous weekly happy hour specials. The sunset view from the highest point of the Leelanau Peninsula is one of the best in the area. Make sure you check out their website or social media for up to date music, events, and happy hour specials!

If you are a wine lover, visit Rove Estate Vineyards located on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula in Northern Michigan and experience even more than bewitching beauty and gracious hosts, but also an Irish winemaker’s blessing: That wherever you rove, may there be good friends and good wine. We promise it will be worth the drive!

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