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A Love for Plants Led to a Dream Job On Leelanau Peninsula

Throughout March, we’re celebrating women who make Northern Michigan so special.

Emily Goodell is one of the owners of Amoritas Vineyards on the Leelanau Peninsula. Since Goodell was a little girl, she’s always loved plants.

“I realized I wanted to study plants when I was around 13, and it’s around this time of year. It’s all the crocuses starting to come up, and I was excited to show all of my friends the Spring Ephemeral that were blooming in the yard. They were not interested,” said Emily Goodell, Viticulturist and Co-Owner of Amoritas Vineyards. “They wanted to go watch TRL on MTV.”


She went to Cornell University to study plant science.

“I wanted to go into plant breeding or plant pathology. Then I took a few horticulture courses and learned about grape growing and winemaking and thought, wow, this is a cool area,” explained Goodell.

This leads her to get a master’s at the University of California, Davis, in viticulture and Enology.

“My mom had been diagnosed with cancer during my graduate school training, and it was stage four, so we knew we had a short timeline to get that family dream moving,” said Goodell. “I interned in Oregon, the Willamette Valley, and Germany. Then I trusted a lot of the knowledge I had gained and jumped from the intern to having her vineyard, planting the first grapes for Amoritas Vineyards in 2013 with her family.


“I can drive a tractor, and then I can put on a dress and go to a wine dinner, and both things are okay. It’s nice not to have any limits on what I can do as a woman in the field. I can be in all aspects of the business,” said Goodell.

Goodell’s mom died in 2016, but she could taste Amoritas Vinyards first wines.

“I think that she’d be really happy. We don’t make all decisions in the business based on what she would have wanted, but it’s something that helps guide us a little bit,” said Goodell.

As Goodell makes a career for herself doing something she loves, she says her best advice is not to worry about being weird. Make your weirdness your superpower.

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