Northern Michigan Attractions: Pull into the drive, marked by two unimposing stone lampposts and a small wooden sign, and enter the farm fairytale that is Black Star Farms. As you enter, the orderly rows of grape vines rise up to your right. Another twist in the road brings you beyond this hillside patch of vineyard to the main inn. It’s picture-perfect, with a red façade, bright white columns, and shady porch looking out onto the field below. Just beyond is the recently opened Hearth and Vine Café’, Tasting Room, and that sweet sandy smell coming up from the countryside.
You don’t have to book one of the inn’s ten rooms to be swept away, although that wouldn’t hurt either. Black Star Farms is hosting plenty of summer events (some of which will extend into autumn) that showcase its renowned wine, cider, and seasonal fare.
Apart from its on-site tasting room, a beautifully done space with vaulted ceilings and Northern Michigan art, Black Star Farms takes great pride in fresh farm-to-table fare. Every second Wednesday of the month, from May to December, Black Star hosts Harvest Dinners in the Arcturos Dining Room at the inn. The five-course meal begins around 6:30 pm and as Marketing Director, Coryn Briggs, describes, the atmosphere is “casual, yet elegant”. Usually guests sit at tables of six as they are taken from one fresh course to the next. The atmosphere, with dim lighting and comfortable background music, is the ideal backdrop to Chef Dayton's meal, typically starring one or two seasonal ingredients and Black Star’s own wine. Between courses, Event Coordinator and Pastry Chef, Stephanie Wiitala, speaks about each dish and often a wine connoisseur tells about the evening’s wine pairings. The last Harvest Meal was July 10th, a highlight was the fresh local strawberries, and the next is scheduled for August 14th.
Continuing with the farm-to-table mindset that is ever present at Black Star, the Hearth and Vine Café’ is open seasonally, typically Wednesday through Sunday. The “philosophy there is similar to the Harvest Dinner”, explains Coryn. As a visitor, I only had to walk a few steps past the vegetable garden to the café’s quaint outdoor patio. The café’ is the perfect spot for a summertime lunch, with its idyllic setting (a sign reading “farm animals” guides guests a few steps past the entrance) and impressive variety of dishes. Some menu highlights? The café’ has a wood fire oven for its fresh pizzas, prepares inventive salads and sandwiches, and, of course, serves Black Star wine and cider by the glass.
Along with the Harvest Dinners and Hearth and Vine Café’, Black Star is also hosting evening Jazz Café’s throughout the summer. Unlike the sit-down Harvest Dinner, a night at the Jazz Café’ is more laid-back. Nevertheless, you can still enjoy the bounty of the farm as you listen to musicians perform in the intimate dining room. Hor’duerves and small plates, as well as wine and cider by the glass, are all available.
With all that’s going on at Black Star, the winery is still making appearances at festivals throughout the summer. At their booth, get a taste of the farm by sampling a glass of their award-winning wines.
Black Star's festival booths offer a glimpse of all that the farm, winery, and inn has to offer, but if you can, take a summer drive to see where the magic happens.
To make a reservation at either the Harvest Dinner or Jazz Cafe, click here.