30 Things to Know About the Northern Michigan Wine Scene

1. Chill out: Michigan wineries exemplify cool climate viticulture, which creates wines with higher acids, clean varietal expression.
2. Latitude: The 45th parallel intersects some of the world’s greatest wine-growing regions, including Bordeaux, Piedmont, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and our very own peninsulas.
3. Sweet season: Harvesting of local wine grapes typically begins in September with early-ripening hybrids and may end in December in years when weather makes ice wine viable.
4. V is for versatile: The vignoles grape, a white French hybrid, thrives in our cool climate and can produce a full spectrum of dry, sweet and sparkling wines.
5. Bubbles for ‘The D’: In April L. Mawby vineyards released Detroit, a sparkling demi-sec blend of riesling, Cayuga and traminette to percolate a new era of good times in the Motor City.
6. Running with a buzz: The 2010 Harvest Stompede, a seven-mile race through vineyards, will be held September 18 and 19, 2010.
7. Cape connection: Both winemakers Coenraad Staasen from Brys Estate and Cornell Oliver of Two Lads originally hail from South Africa, another fine place to make wine.
8. Clean: Victoria Creek Vineyards, near Cedar, is Michigan’s only off-the-grid winery—energy from wind, solar and geothermal.
9. Celebrity apprentice: There’s always the chance Madonna herself could be pouring your pinot noir at Ciccone Vineyards, her family’s winery, near Suttons Bay.
10. Foreign exchange: Chateau Chantal produces two cuvées of malbec from its vineyards in Argentina and ships them North for sale in their tasting room.
11. Certified: Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas are regulated as American Viticultural Areas.
12. Main squeeze: Pressing one ton of December’s frozen grapes will yield less than 40 gallons of ice wine versus 175 gallons per ton during autumn harvest.
13. Liquid loot: Michigan’s wine industry contributes nearly $800 million to the state economy every year, so please, drink up.
14. The starter: Boskydel owner and winemaker Bernie Rink pioneered the commercial cultivation of wine grapes in
Northern Michigan with his first vineyard planting in 1970.
15. For the fish: July and August are peak time for Great Lakes salmon, which pairs beautifully with pinot noir rosés; see
Chateau Grand Traverse, Black Star Farms and 45 North.
16. Franc with fungus: Cabernet Franc finds good company with local wild mushrooms like morels, chanterelles and black trumpets. Check out bottlings from Peninsula Cellars and Two Lads.
17. Urbane flavors: To wine inside the city limits, explore the tasting rooms of Black Star Farms and Left Foot Charley in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
18. Venture forth: Expand your local wine horizons with dry riesling, pinot blanc, rosé, and eau de vie.
19. Bonanza: The Cherry Stop on TC’s Front Street houses a Northern Michigan wine bar—more than 260 local bottlings.
20. Connected: Shady Lane Cellars winemaker Adam Satchwell is the nephew of California wine icon Jed Steele, an original force behind Kendall Jackson Chardonnay.
21. Bliss in bulk: Left Foot Charley offers growlers (like microbrew jugs) that they refill with wine or hard cider.
22. A kiss of the hard stuff: 45 North’s Northpor is an unusual port-inspired blend of pinot noir and cabernet franc that is fortified and aged in bourbon barrels ($25).
23. Market fresh: Bayside Market, Blue Goat, Jack’s Market, Burritt’s Fresh Market, Folgarelli’s and Silvertree Deli have great local wine departments, near downtown TC.
24. East by northwest: Go to Red Ginger (downtown TC). Eat Sushi. Drink local gewu?rztraminer. Be happy.
25. It’s okay to spit: When tasting along the wine trail, using the spittoons will prolong your ability to perceive flavors.
26. Sweet ending: Late harvest refers to grapes that are allowed to ripen longer, increasing sugar in the finished wines.
27. Get down in Fishtown: June 12th marks the 25th Anniversary of the Leland Wine & Food Festival.

OUR MINI VINTAGE GUIDE:

28. 2007: One of the ripest on record. Intensely aromatic white sand rich reds.
29. 2008: Overall balance. Bright acids and good expression of varietal characters.
30. 2009: A cool season and low yields will make for racy whites and scarce reds.

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