Come With Me To Brys Estate


As seen featured in Grand Rapids Magazine-November 2011

In 1975, when newly weds Walt and Eileen Brys first visited Napa Valley, a then relatively unknown, down-home wine region–they heard the whisper–and the dream to own their own vineyard was born.

Thirty years later, their dream came true.

When you arrive at Brys Estate you feel that this place is a family’s labor of love. From the long line of Adirondack chairs looking out over the vineyards that seem to spill into the blue waters of Grand Traverse East Bay, where I long to set up my easel and translate this beauty…to the outdoor deck, where I fantasize about loosing hours sipping the Estate’s fine wines while writing poetry under the umbrella-capped tables. Then you step inside, where it’s warm like a friend’s home, but with the elegant charm that tells you you’re somewhere special.

Just as I am plotting how to spend the day here lost in creativity, the warm, charming and well-spoken Patrick Brys greets us. He tells us about this beautiful place and the fine wines they produce. They specialize in Reds he says… and with that, he has my full attention. We begin to taste the wines and are very impressed; each one is complex in its own way. These are elegant, high-end wines, like the estate itself. (Several would eventually find their way into our trunk leaving us to wonder where our luggage would go… a question for another day).

Coenraad Strassen, the South African-born, raised, and trained winemaker for the Brys pops his head in. He educates us on his philosophy of wine making and we talk about our roles as artists. Coenraad’s palette is Mother Nature. He lives with the seasons, seeing how they will paint the harvest from year to year. He is more interested in honoring the land than manipulating the wine. Each vintage is a record of that year–the sunshine, temperatures and rain–all revealed in each bottle.

My creative well is full as I reluctantly leave this magical place. I dream of the paintings I will create. I think of how all artistic processes run parallel. Coenraad waits for Mother Nature to do something that his art will be born from. I wait until my movements across the canvas create something in the paint that I haven’t seen before–something where I can say, “Now that is a interesting place to pause.” Wine dances across your pallet while paintings dance across your eyes. I invite you to experience the dance across your own pallet as you taste the wines from Brys Estate, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  They’re ideal for sipping while lost in contemplation of a great work of art.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s