"I’ve recently returned from inspiring days at Pigstock, in Traverse City, Michigan, where I and my partner in Salumi, Brian Polcyn, were invited to participate in a celebration of the pig. But we also got to sample wines and spirits made from the abundant fruit that grows in this unique climate.

This past Monday afternoon, having cleaned off after the hog slaughter in upstate Michigan, where I’d eaten raw pig fat, warm back fat from the freshly slaughtered Mangalitsa, we visited a local winery, Black Star Farms where owner Don Coe pointed to his still and said, “That’s what does it. We should have a taste.”

“It” was grappa. “It” was pear and oak-aged apple brandy. And “it” was heaven, made from the fruit of the state my mother was born in. Fruit grown in the sandy sloping soil on the peninsula of Traverse City is superlative. Apples and pears and grapes raised in a climate made temperate by the largest bodies of fresh water on the planet. The region is also home to extraordinary local beer. Beer and wine and spirits to be taken seriously, worldwide, as far as I’m concerned."

Learn more about Michael Ruhlman and his visit to Michigan and read the rest of his blog here!

Photo(s) by Donna Turner Ruhlman