Northern Michigan Wine Warrior: L. Mawby

Larry Mawby, founder of L. Mawby Vineyards in Leelanau County’s Suttons Bay, stars in the reality tv pilot Wine Warriors. MyNorth (with Traverse Magazine) has been following Mawby since he first planted vines in 1973. He has since become a nationally recognized vintner of sparkling wines, as well as a tireless advocate for wine and agriculture of all kinds in Northern Michigan. Several years back our wine writer, Tim Tebeau, caught up with Larry to pick his brain on, why bubbly?

Why bubbles?

I love them and it’s nice to make the wine you like to drink. When looking to grow grapes here 30 years ago I found the climate was most conducive to sparkling wines. I believe we should make wines that are appropriate to our geography.

To what extent have you adopted traditional Champagne methods?

Our only real departure is in using nontraditional varietals like Vignoles. When it comes to viticulture and production we are solidly embedded in Champagne methodology.

You make wines under the names L. Mawby and M. Lawrence, explain?

The L. Mawby line is bottle-fermented (like traditional Champagne) and strives for a balance of varietal flavor and yeasty, toasty complexity. M. Lawrence wines are tank-fermented and fruity with flavors and aromas that would be too intense for a drier style.

What inspires the poetry on each of your bottlings?

It was a reaction to the government warnings required on the labels, I needed balance. Sometimes the wine exists and the poem describes it, and sometimes they are created simultaneously.

Best food/sparkling wine pairing?

I particularly like it with Nori rolls. The chemistry between sparkling wine and wasabi is wonderful: the pain leaves but the flavor lingers. I have to be careful not to overindulge in wasabi this way.

Name your desert island wine?

Krug Champagne, their Grand Cuvée from ’89 or ’90: survival would take care of itself.

Visit L. Mawby Vineyard at 4519 S Elm Valley Road, Suttons Bay, 231.271.3522. Tasting Room Open: Monday through Saturday, 12pm-6pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm.Wine Tips, Tours and Travel in Traverse City, Old Mission and Leelanau:

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