This year, over 10,000 voters endorsed their favorite Northern Michigan wine bars and Northern Michigan sommeliers in Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine’s Red Hot Best contest. For the casual sipper and enthusiast alike, this blossoming oenophilia means innovation right here in our Northern Michigan vineyards as well as exciting new vino pouring in from all corners of the globe. Here are a few top winners of the 2013 Red Hot Best:

Cru Cellars 411 South Main Street, Frankfort 231.399.0200

This new satellite of the acclaimed Tampa wine bar and bottle shop is hiply curated with modern small grower glass selections from all corners of the wine-producing world paired with creative small plates.

Trattoria Stella 1200 West Eleventh Street, Traverse City 231.929.8989 

Sit at the bar and sip on a glass of pinot blanc from the Dolomites or gaglioppo from sunny Calabria while feasting on fresh oysters and arty antipasti like grilled octopus or Burratta Pugliese.

Left Foot Charley 06 Red Drive #100, Traverse City 231.995.0500

This Red Hot Best Wine Bar showcases Brian Ulbrich’s mad winemaking skills with single vineyard pinot gris, rieslings and blaufrankisch sourced from some of the best sites on the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas. Wine and cider on tap matched with casual snacks.

Esperance 12853 U.S. 31 North, Charlevoix 231.237.9300

Troll Michigan’s best selection of small grower Burgundies in the massive temp-controlled cellar, or order a glass of local bubbly off the chalkboard and head to the garden to blissfully nosh al fresco on aged cheese and artisan salumi.

Cafe Santé  1 Water Street, Boyne City 231.582.8800

Order a garnet carafe of spicy Spanish crianza and housemade terrine or an ice-cold bottle of dry rosé with Santé’s signature moules frites while you watch Lake Charlevoix lap at the shore.

Vino File: Amanda Danielson

Owner/Sommelier, Trattoria Stella, Traverse City

The curator of Trattoria Stella’s dynamic beverage program, Amanda Danielson, is also 2013’s Red Hot Best Sommelier. Danielson tells us about the virtues of small winegrowers, indigenous varietals and the next big thing in Northern viticulture.

What drives the wine program at Stella?

We’re trying to step from the homogeny of wine; the best-selling commercial wines generally have very little character or sense of place. We want to represent those fantastic small families all over the world who grow their own grapes, farm sustainably and make wines that retain scale and character. I love finding indigenous grapes from obscure regions that can fill the shoes of the international varieties. I sort of feel like a librarian or bookseller, picking the best indie selections for my guests and vetting them.

Is there a particular obscure wine region we should be paying attention to right now?

Right now I’m really excited about Valle d’Aosta. It’s a teeny tiny alpine winegrowing region in Northern Italy with cool indigenous grapes and unique expressions of classic Italian varietals like Nebbiolo.

Bringing it back home, what’s Stella excited to be pouring from the local wine scene?

It’s great to see people planting more grapes that should excel in our climate. Sauvignon blanc is fickle but has the potential for a distinct expression here and gamay is a grape that often gets overlooked but makes gorgeous lighter-bodied reds.

Food and wine editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey.

This article was featured in the June 2013 issue of Traverse Magazinesubscribe today!