The past two vintages on the Leelanau Peninsula have been marked with unpredictable agricultural hardship and have resulted in beautiful and bright white wines worth the struggle. 

Bookended by cold wet weather, the 2018 harvest season tested the mettle of Leelanau County vignerons. Sensitive thin-skinned varietals like pinot noir took a serious beating, but last year’s white wines promise to do their part on the dinner table with zippy acidity that should make for healthy evolution in the cellar. While we wait for those wines to finish integration, however, there’s still a raft of exemplary wines from the uncommonly ripe and abundant 2017 vintage. White wines are textural and aromatically supercharged while the reds have a richness and intensity that’s well matched to barbecue season. Read on as we sip our way through some of Leelanau County’s best bottlings.

AMORITAS VINEYARDS // Pinot Blanc 2018

Amoritas’ pinot blanc debutante promises flashy peach and banana notes over bright, taut texture.

BIGLITTLE // Treehouse 2017

Long lees contact and a nap in premium French oak imparts curvaceousness and savory undertones to the ghost of soft red fruit in the Laing brothers’ white pinot noir.

BLACK STAR FARMS // Arcturos Gamay Noir 2017

The native grape of Beaujolais thrives in our sandy soils and this inaugural release from Black Star Farms is lit with bramble fruit and black pepper.

BLUSTONE VINEYARDS // Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

Mouthwatering acids and inviting aromas of early season strawberry pop off in the newest pink pinot from Blustone.

Photo by Andy Wakeman

LEFT FOOT CHARLEY (Traverse City) // Blaufrankisch 2017

Nobody rocks Blaufrankisch better than Left Foot Charley’s Brian Ulbrich. His 2017 bottling of Benzie and OMP vineyards is spicy blackberry sexiness and precise definition in every sip.

MAWBY // Blanc Brut NV

Rolling out a bold new rebrand this season, Mawby is still percolating the North’s best bubbles. This bottle-fermented beauty throws off golden apple, preserved lemon and biscuity yeast aromas.

ROVE ESTATE // Sauvignon Blanc 2017

A rising star of the local oeno-scene, Rove’s sauvignon blanc shows off a citrusy soul of grapefruit and lime that’s perfect for dockside imbibing.

TWO K  FARMS // Riesling 2017

Veteran Leelanau winemaker Adam Satchwell shows off his riesling skills with stone fruit and sweet citrus wrapped in ripe acids.

WILLOW VINEYARD // Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay especially benefited from 2017’s ideal growing season and this barrel-aged bottling from Willow showcases classic melon, apple and almond character.

Traverse food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey.

Photo(s) by Captured by Grace Photography