Northern Michigan Wines: Having spent the last 25 years vacationing in Leelanau County, lifelong wine lover and executive management consultant Tom Knighton and his family purchased vineyard land near Lake Leelanau and launched Blustone in 2012, garnering numerous critical accolades in their first two vintages. We talk with Tom about the vision for Blustone, the process of making award-winning Michigan reds and his favorite high summer pairing.

Blustone has a very distinct sleekly modern tasting room. What inspired that design?

We want people to connect to the vineyard, the winemaking and the environment around us. The wines and the tasting room are styled in a contemporary fashion that allows us to connect with younger wine drinkers who we hope will be our customers for life. When our guests are tasting wine and looking out over the vineyard we can point to the vines themselves that produced that fruit. When they drive by the rock wall leading up to the winery, we point out that those rocks were excavated from the vineyard and the roots of the pinot noir vines get their minerality from those same stones.

Your 2011 Winemaker’s Red was the only Michigan red to receive a gold medal at Pacific Rim, tell us about the genesis of that bottling?

As we our committed to utilizing the best fruit from the best possible sites, this wine is a blend of cabernet franc and merlot from local vineyards blended with cabernet sauvignon from the Lake Michigan shore. We use custom barrels that alternate staves between French and American oak that gives the wine much of its depth and structure.

It’s high summer, what are you drinking with Blustone wines?

One of our favorite combinations is grilled local whitefish paired with our estate chardonnay.

This article is also featured in the July 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s MagazineGet your copy now!