Black Star Farms

A Northern Michigan winery has expanded its business operations tremendously with the help of MEDC in its early years

Since opening in 1998, Black Star Farms, a world class winery and agritourism destination with its flagship location in Suttons Bay, has expanded to include a second wine processing facility with an adjoining tasting room, a 10 room boutique inn, a bistro, an equestrian facility, recreation trails, and a terraced estate vineyard on what is now a 160 acre property. Black Star Farms’ founders Kerm Campbell and Donald Coe were determined to create a model business that would set the bar for world class hospitality centered around wine, in a fun and educational environment. Their commitment to excellence and innovation has distinguished Black Star Farms in the hospitality industry today. 


Black Star Farms encountered challenges, particularly stemming from unpredictable forces of nature. Like any agricultural endeavor, the business has faced total crop destruction several times due to adverse weather conditions. However, working closely with its growers has allowed them to expand their vineyards and, in turn, diversify their vineyard locations which allow them to somewhat navigate unpredictable adverse weather conditions. 

In its early years, Black Star Farms turned to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which allowed them to expand their network and discover new opportunities. With the MEDC, the business was able to network with other small businesses and expand their prospects, filling the Inn and their event calendar. After gaining more recognition in Northern Michigan, Black Star Farms began to gain popularity in the southern parts of the state too, which propelled the business to grow tremendously. 

Black Star Farms was recognized as a Michigan 50 Companies to Watch awardee 20 years ago by Michigan Celebrates Small Business during the program’s inaugural awards gala. The business’s early growth was in part attributed to this statewide recognition that highlighted their innovation and strategic vision, made possible through the diligent efforts of the Black Star Farms team. 

For other small business owners, Black Star Farms’ Managing Owner Sherri Campbell Fenton says that “Passion is the number one factor you need to possess when embarking upon a new venture. Tenacity, grit and determination need to be a part of your composition as you traverse growth and unforeseen challenges.”

Black Star Farms hopes to continue fostering meaningful partnerships and expand their core businesses around wine and hospitality in a fun, educational and welcoming environment.

Learn more about the small business services and resources available from the MEDC.