In Northern Michigan, riesling is our jam. Bright and beautiful, this one of the seven noble vitis vinifera (read, wine grapes) tastes like a travel brochure for the Grand Traverse region. It’s the stylistic scope of the wine, however, the unimaginable range of bone dry to intensely sweet, that turns regular folk into riesling zealots.

Riesling’s cold-hardiness and chameleonic expression of soil types and winemaking styles allows it to thrive in our maritime microclimates and communicate an eclectic spectrum of flavors and food pairings unmatched by other wines. Perhaps the greatest of those pairings is riesling and pork, a natural nod to its origins in the Rhine and Mosel valleys of Germany. “Riesling and pork were made together in heaven,” says Mari Vineyards winemaker Sean O’Keefe, and this delicious duality is best realized when pairing the dry or medium-dry style that is the power zone for our Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula vignerons.

We explore the golden soul of four stand-out local rieslings and discover why it’s the go-to grape for geeks, gastronomes and all kinds of wine lovers.

LEFT FOOT CHARLEY | Dry Riesling 2017

A synthesis of fruit from five tiny vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula, LFC’s dry riesling flashes the ample orchard fruit, concentrated aromas and lively acids that define the epically delectable 2017 vintage.

MARI VINEYARDS | Dry Riesling ‘Jamieson Vineyard’ 2017

Ripe apple and citrus undercut with a hint of anisette is at the forefront of this bone dry bottling from the near-perfect 2017 harvest. Sean O’Keefe’s hallmark precision and expansive mid-palate weight are here in spades.

Shady Lane Cellars | Semi-Dry Riesling 2017

Four riesling clones and several different yeast strains commingle in this aromatic, off-dry dynamo from Shady Lane wine wizard Kasey Wierzba. Heady peach and floral notes with citrus zip.

Black Star Farms | ‘Tribute’ Off-Dry Riesling 2017

2017 yielded fruit of such exceptional quality that Lee Lutes and the winemaking team at Black Star chose to dedicate this bottling to it. A full year sur lie in neutral oak barrel imparts sexy structural curves to the fruit core of apple, pear and apricot.