Every month, Traverse Magazine’s Culinary Columnist Stacey Brugeman asks Northern Michigan beverage experts what they’re drinking. In “From Our Cellar” she shares the Michigan wines, beers and ciders that area sommeliers, beer buyers, beverage directors, cider geeks and other pros are especially excited about.
July 2022 ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendation
July Featured Wine: Neu Cellars 2021 Sparkling Riesling
Spontaneously fermented natural wines have been all the rage in coastal wine circles in recent years. But have you tried any of the bottlings from Michigan’s Old Mission AVA? Get your hands on the Neu Cellars 2021 Sparkling Riesling, made by this small-but-mighty father-son winery that brought the natural wine trend to Northern Michigan in a way that actually tastes like Northern Michigan. “Natural wine is an expression of terroir because of the wild ambient yeast,” says chef Forrest Moline, who stocks the label at his equally petite but progressive natural wine shop in Traverse City—Forrest, A Food Studio. Pair this cold-climate natural bubbly with lake trout, walleye or any other fish from this coast.
Neu Cellars Website | $33 per 750ml bottle
Related Read: Searching for more cocktails, recipes and recommendations? Visit our Northern Michigan Food & Drink page.
June 2022 ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendation
June Featured Wine: bigLITTLE C-3Pinot
Toast to our longest days of the year with some area bubbly, like the playfully named bigLITTLE C-3Pinot Brut from Lake Leelanau, which is “lithe, juicy and vibrant,” says sommelier Liz Martinez—a James Beard semifinalist and Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year. “The palate reminds me of my grandmother’s lemon meringue pie, slightly toasty and creamy lemon curdy,” she tells Traverse of the traditional method sparkler. Martinez, who runs the beverage programs for Detroit’s Marrow, Mink, BasBlue and a forthcoming opening in Eastern Market, recommends the cuvée with salad, lighter pastas and even French fries.
Shop bigLITTLE | $31 per 750ml bottle
Photo by bigLITTLE Wines
Related Read: Searching for last year’s beer and wine recommendations? View our 2021 ‘From Our Cellar’ list.
May 2022 ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendation
May Featured Cider: Gitche Gumee Rhubee
Gitche Gumee Ciderworks’ Phillip Kelm (a 2022 Tastemaker finalist) is beloved by his peers for using wild Keweenaw apples to make dry cider. “Phil has a passion for old world cider that’s aged in oak, fermented with the yeast from the apple and is often bone dry,” says Mike LaMotte, the beverage boss and owner at Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Restaurant in Eagle River. While Kelm hand-presses a few different bottlings, we are especially excited about the Gitche Gumee Rhubee right now, which is made using homegrown rhubarb and the perfect kiss of wildflower honey.
Shop Gitche Gumee Ciderworks | $15 per 750ml bottle
Photo by Gitche Gumee Ciderworks
April 2022 ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendation
April Featured Beer: Juniper Rye by Earthen Ales
We were elated to learn that Earthen Ales, one of our favorite Traverse City breweries, recently started canning its Juniper Rye. Inspired by a walk in the Northern Michigan forests and akin to the Finnish Sahti style, this was one of the first beers that husband-and-wife team Andrew and Jamie Kidwell-Brix brewed together. We checked in with Advanced Cicerone Annette May—one of only two Advanced-level beer experts in Michigan—who told Traverse Magazine, this is “a beautiful, finely crafted” beer. With a nose of citrusy “spruce tips” and “distinct floral and spicy pepper notes” in the glass, we know what we’ll be pouring as the woods reawaken this month.
Earthen Ales Menu | Juniper Rye: $12 per 6-pack
Photo by Earthen Ales
March ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendations
March Featured Wine: 2020 BOS Methode Agricole
Wine whiz Kristy McClellan, part of the trio who took over Bon Vin and relaunched it as Lake District Wine Co. in June, can’t say enough good things about BOS Wine. This winery run by Dave Bos—who converted all of Grgich Hills’ Napa Valley acreage to biodynamic farming before setting up shop in Elk Rapids—is now making biodynamic wine in Michigan, his home state. For this month’s recipe for Potato Leek Soup, McClellan recommends the 2020 BOS Methode Agricole, a lightly effervescent pét-nat-style wine made of Valvin Muscat grapes. “Growing in our cool climate provides these grapes with natural acidity, creating a fruit-forward dry white that pairs wonderfully with cream-based soups by cutting through the richness and fat,” says McClellan of the jasmine-flower flecked sparkler.
Shop BOS Wine | $32 per bottle
Photo by BOS Wine
March Featured Cocktail: Vieux Carré
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Let the good times roll when you celebrate March with this rye whiskey classic recipe, featuring a 12- year, small-batch rye from Mammoth Distilling.
View the full cocktail recipe here: March 2022 Last Call: Vieux Carré Classic Rye Whiskey
Photo by Dave Weidner
February 2022 ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendations
February Featured Wine: 2019 Petoskey Farms Marquette
Are you making our recipe for Duck and Cherry Ragù this month? Consider pairing it with the 2019 Marquette by Petoskey Farms, which Suzi Blanckaert—sommelier at Provisions in Boyne City—loves pouring for guests. With “notes of cherry, berry, black pepper and spice on both the nose and palate,” it is made with 100 percent Marquette, a cold-hardy grape that is one of Blanckaert’s regional faves.
Shop Petoskey Farms Wine | $28 per bottle
Photo by Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery
Photo by Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery
February 2022 Featured Beer: Keweenaw Brewing Company Widow Maker
Brian Hochstetler, the new beverage director for Boyne Mountain resort, recommends the Keweenaw Brewing Company Widow Maker this winter. While this German-hopped black ale has the dark color and “hints of smoky molasses” we tend to crave at this time of year, it’s much lighter and more quaffable than a porter or stout—making it the perfect après ski selection after one last run.
Keweenaw Brewing Company Website | $13 for 6 cans
Photo by Keweenaw Brewing Co.
February Featured Cocktail: Blood Orange Slow Cooker Mulled Wine
Ready to beat the chill in Northern Michigan wine country? This slow cooker blood orange mulled wine is exactly the thing you need to come home to after a day of skiing, snowshoeing or outdoor adventuring in below-freezing temperatures.
View the full cocktail recipe here: February 2022 Last Call: Warm Up with Slow Cooker Mulled Wine.
Photo by Sarah Peschel
January 2022 ‘From Our Cellar’ Recommendations
January Featured Wine: NV Mawby Talis
This New Year’s Eve, you don’t have to go far for a great bottle of bubbles. Leelanau County is home to one of the best champagne houses this side of Rheims—Mawby. Master Sommelier Ron Edwards, who was Charlevoix-based for many years, recommends the winery’s NV Mawby Talis. Estate grown and made with a blend of grapes from their Talismøn vineyard that includes Vignoles, this brut méthode champenoise pour has those same yeasty notes of brioche that you’ve come to expect of bottlings from across the pond.
Find MV Mawby Talis on the Mawby website | $38 per bottle
Photo by Mawby
Photo by Mawby
January 2022’s Featured Beer: Odd Side Ales Mayan Mocha Stout
Benjamin Emkin, the beer buyer for Keweenaw Co-op in Hancock, is beloved for bringing rare finds to the remote reaches of the Upper Peninsula. Among them, the Mayan Mocha Stout from Michigan’s Odd Side Ales. “I always pair stouts with snow shoveling, ”Calumet’s Emkin quipped when asked what food goes well with this gently spiced sipper. Joking aside, we’re thinking some barbacoa or a rich, chocolate-y mole might also be a good match for this snow day selection.
Learn more about the Mayan Mocha Stout on the Odd Side Ales website | $13 for 6 bottles
Photo by Odd Side Ales
January’s Featured Cocktail: Step in Thyme Alcohol-Free Cocktail
This month’s “Last Call” is the Step in Thyme cocktail. If you’re participating in Dry January, you’re not going to want to miss this alcohol-free cocktail courtesy of Trattoria Stella in Traverse City.
View the full cocktail recipe here: January 2022 Last Call: Step in Thyme Alcohol-Free Cocktail.
Photo by Dave Weidner