The Folks Behind Shady Lane Cellars
Meet the People of Shady Lane Cellars
Our team is an integral part of everything we do here at Shady Lane Cellars. In fact, they’re more like family. Some of them have been with us since the beginning; others are helping us build a new future for the vineyard through their passion and unique experience.
Richard Fortune - Owner & Proprietor
In March of 2013, Richard Fortune became the proud new owner of Shady Lane Cellars.
Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana the Fortune family have been visiting Leelanau County for over 50 years and were familiar with the incredible beauty and richness that it had to offer. After building a home in the county, Mr. Fortune planted his own vineyard on the west side of Lake Leelanau, named Hennessey Harbor Vineyards.
Rick DeBlasio - General Manager
Rick is our General Manager and resident foodie. He came onboard in May of 2014 as the Tasting Room Manager and was recently promoted to General Manager in March of 2016.
Rick has degrees in business and hospitality from Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and Mars Hill University and spent six years working at the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Chances are you'll find him creating some delicious morsel or mingling with guests in our tasting room.
Kasey Wierzba - Winemaker
Kasey began her journey at Shady Lane Cellars as our Assistant Winemaker in 2013 and was recently promoted to Winemaker in 2016. Prior to her adventures on Leelanau Peninsula, Kasey spent seven years in Napa Valley working for Far Niente, Rudd, and Frog’s Leap wineries. She's earned two degrees from Michigan State University and is an asset to our business in every way possible.
Learn more about Kasey on our Blog
Andy Fles - Vineyard Manager
Andy joined our team in 2013, after spending some time with Peninsula Cellars on neighboring Old Mission Peninsula. After completing his horticulture degree at Michigan State University, Andy cut his teeth at a vineyard management company in Oregon. He is an invaluable resource and a bottomless well of plant knowledge that is essential to provide you with the best wine possible.
Learn more about Andy on our Blog
Nicole Thomas - Asst. Tasting Room Manager
Nicole has been with us since 2002, practically since the very beginning! She is a Traverse City native and is the face that everyone knows and loves at Shady Lane Cellars.
Dr. Joseph O’Donnell – Founder
In 1987, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph O’Donnell founded Shady Lane Cellars on a classic, 100-year old fruit farm near Suttons Bay, Michigan. Set among the scenic rolling hills of Leelanau Peninsula, the flowering orchards of cherry, peach, and apple trees proved irresistible, and plans were quickly made to purchase the farm.
With the help of noted Leelanau Peninsula winemaker Larry Mawby, of L. Mawby Vineyards, Dr. O’Donnell worked tirelessly to guide Shady Lane Cellars through its early years.
In May of 2013, Dr. O’Donnell made arrangements to pass the ownership of Shady Lane Cellars to Mr. Richard Fortune.