Your seemingly endless brainstorm for what dish to pass during the holidays stops here. Celebrate the start of the season and get inspired for your holiday gatherings while sampling mouthwatering wine and food pairings along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail during the annual Toast the Season event.

With two weekends to get in on the fun, November 2–3 and November 9–10, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste and buy Northern Michigan wines to pair with your upcoming holiday meals and shop wine gifts for friends. (Friends, the second weekend has already sold out. Get tickets for November 2–3.) 

Tickets are $50 per person and include a featured wine and food pairing at participating wineries, a commemorative stemless wine glass and the wildly popular holiday gift—$10 in Cork Cash good toward purchases along the trail. After your featured pairing, most wineries offer two additional complimentary tastes.

We asked some of the participating wineries to share their secrets to creating holiday season delights. Make these delicious recipes and pair them with the Leelanau Peninsula wines being featured during Toast the Season. Tickets to the event are available at

Rove Estate: 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay + BBQ Chicken Dip

Bringing a dish to pass? BBQ chicken dip is quite the crowd pleaser! Chardonnay is a best-seller at Rove Estate and this wine is a prime example of why. Notes of orchard fruits, melon and delicate lemon peel give way to fresh citrus fruits and crisp minerality. The expertly paired dip is the best of both worlds — tangy BBQ and creamy richness.

Black Star Farms: Arcturos Gewürztraminer + Apple and Squash Pierogi

Black Star’s pairing this year was inspired by one of their chefs, John Wojnarski. Earlier this year, they offered employees a cooking class highlighting Chef John and featuring one of his favorite dishes, pierogi. The team loved his creation so much they chose it for Toast the Season this year. There is nothing like the comforting flavors of apple and squash paired with an aromatic and lush gewürztraminer for a cozy fall pairing. Okrzyki! Recipe Below!

45 North Vineyard & Winery: Red Barn Red + Cranberry Brie Bites 

The Red Barn Red is a blend of cabernet franc, merlot and pinot noir that’s aged for nine months in oak. This semi-dry red blend has notes of cranberry, cherry, violets, bay leaf and spice from oak on the nose. With the cranberry brie bites, it’s even further elevated. The rich butteriness of the puff pastry and the creamy brie is beautifully balanced by the sweet and tart flavors from the cranberry sauce. Highlighting the hint of spice and tannin in the Red Barn Red, it’s a holiday pairing that your friends and family will go crazy for. Recipe Below!

MAWBY: Us + Apple Chips with Aged White Cheddar

There’s no doubt that apple slices stacked with cheddar cheese are the most underrated fall snack, and this local wine is meant to be its companion. Made from chardonnay and pinot noir, MAWBY’s Us boasts a dry profile and notes of peach and berry. Using local apple chips from Greenetown Foods and aged white cheddar, MAWBY has had the same pairing for Toast the Season for years, and customers never tire of it. This easy-to-make pairing is definitely going to save you precious time during the holiday season.

Amoritas Vineyards: 2017 Semi-Dry Riesling + Pumpkin Spice Bites 

This semi-dry riesling balances bright notes of a variety of tropical fruits and a touch of sweetness on the finish. It’s light acidity and easy-drinking characteristics highlight the beautiful spice qualities of Common Good Bakery‘s pumpkin spice bites. Pick up these treats at Common Good’s location in Traverse City for a simple holiday bite.


Green Bird Organic Cellars: Polychrome Ginger Ale + Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel

If you need a break from wine (or a pairing for non-winos!) Green Bird Organic Cellars is the place to stop. Sip on the Polychrome Ginger Ale, a refreshing alcoholic ginger ale made from an organic cane sugar base and fermented using Champagne yeast. The yeast component of this not too spicy, not too sweet drink is the primary difference between this ginger ale and pop—the fermentation process brings it up to 6.5% alcohol. It makes an incredible Moscow Mule and pairs perfectly with a holiday classic…sweet potato casserole. Recipe Below!

Make it Yourself!

Below are the recipes for some of the delectable holiday delights being served this year at Toast the Season.

Cranberry Brie Bites 


  • Frozen puff pastry dough (thawed)
  • 8 oz. brie
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce 
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans 
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a mini muffin tray.

Roll out pastry dough and cut into 2.5-inch squares. Place squares into muffin tin. Cut brie into small pieces and place them on top of the dough square. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce and chopped pecans. 

Bake until golden, about 12–15 minutes. Garnish with rosemary. 

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel


Mashed Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 pounds organic sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Streusel Topping

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2–3 cups mini marshmallows, optional


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 or 2.5-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1-inch chunks. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and boil until tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add butter, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt to the potatoes and mash until smooth. Use an immersion blender to make them extra smooth.

Transfer the mashed potatoes to the prepared casserole dish. Place in the oven until heated through. About 5 minutes. While the sweet potatoes are heating, prepare the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and pecans. Stir until combined.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven. Top with half the marshmallows, then sprinkle half the streusel over the marshmallows. Top with the other half of the marshmallows and sprinkle the remaining streusel over the top. Place back into the oven for 8–15 minutes, until the topping is bubbly and brown.

Apple and Squash Pierogi



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 3 granny smith apples peeled and cored
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ liter dry riesling wine
  • 1 cup butternut squash, diced small and roasted at 350 degrees till soft
  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Sift flour into a large bowl. Make a bowl in the center of the flour. Mix eggs, sour cream and salt in a smaller bowl. Then add the mixture in the center of the flour’s “bowl.”

Gently mix with hands until dough ball forms. (About 4 minutes.) Knead dough for 6 minutes or until slightly tacky. Let dough rest for 30 minutes with a towel covering.

Note: If dough feels too moist after kneading, add 1 tablespoon of flour sparingly until slightly tacky.

While the dough is resting, dice apples and poach in riesling and sugar, for approximately 10 minutes or until soft. Drain well on paper towel.

Mix cream cheese, maple syrup, buttermilk, egg, thyme, salt and pepper. When well-combined, fold in squash and apples.

Roll dough out to approx.. 1/8-inch thickness and cut with a 3-inch round cookie cutter.

Brush each circle with egg wash (a mix of 50% egg, 50% water), then fill with 1 tablespoon of the filling. Fold in half and pinch closed all around.

Pan sear in a nonstick pan with avocado oil until golden brown. 

Get your Toast the Season tickets at!