/Tag: wine

Left Foot Charley Hosts Riesling March Madness

Battle of the Rieslings

Who needs basketball match-ups when you can battle it out to see which Riesling reigns supreme! Left Foot Charley is getting in on the March Madness with a Riesling wine contest.

Beginning Thursday March 15 and running for four weeks they will match up current and previous vintages of Left Foot Charley Riesling in a bracket-style tournament. Stop by their winery located at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons to taste, compare and vote for the winners on Thursday and Friday of each week.

Left Foot Charley has chosen 8 wines for the field that range from dry to sweet, pulling from vintages as far back as 2008, including a rare Riesling collaboration never previously offered for tasting or for sale.

The cost is $5 for the samples and the opportunity to vote. Guests who participate each week will be entered to win a $25 Left Foot Charley gift certificate.

We can’t resist a good Riesling, and Left Foot Charley has been producing them for years. Get in on the March fun and join the Riesling Madness. Specialty food pairings from Trattoria Stella as well as cheese and accoutrements will also be available for purchase. Glass pours and bottle sales are a way to extend the enjoyment – and perhaps pick up something unexpected.


By |2018-12-12T09:18:08+00:00March 15th, 2018|Events, Wineries|2 Comments

Shop Local Michigan Holiday Gift Guide

Every year I scour the region for new ideas for the holiday gift giving season. This year’s theme is: Shop Local. We’re lucky to be surrounded by local retailers who work hard to fill their stores, galleries and pantries with unique finds from Michigan and across the nation. Let’s keep our neighbors in business and see what they have to offer before we fill our online carts and pull out the VISA.


Now I’ll hop off my soapbox and share this year’s categories:

Smitten with the Mitten

From Barrel to Glass

Handmade & Heartfelt

Foodie Finds

Host with the Most

Fun & Festive


Holiday Gift Guide 11 Mitten image

Smitten with the Mitten

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this year seems to be the year of the Mitten. Michigan themed companies, gifts and accessories are everywhere! And for us proud Michiganders that’s a great thing. Here are a few suggestions for the Michigan loyalist in your family.

Michigan Mittens | Benjamin Twiggs

Everyone in Michigan knows we show our hometown by holding up our trusty hand map. When the weather turns cold you can hold your hand high and as their slogan says, "Always wear a map on your hands." Available locally at Benjamin Twiggs. Michigan mittens are made in Clarkston, Michigan.

Michigan Ice Cube Trays | High Five Threads

I discovered these on Facebook, and was glad to see a local company carrying them. What a simple and clever way to share your love of the state. Two trays per package. And the yoopers in your family will be glad to see the design includes the upper and lower peninsula. Jell-O shots anyone? Available at High Five Threads in the Village mercato.

baabaazuzu Mittens

When a Michigan-based company makes mittens from recycled wool we can’t help but be smitten. Baabaazuzu, a Lake Leelanau company designs and creates unique wearables and ships them all around the world. Lucky for us they are available locally as well. Find their mittens in Traverse City at Cali’s and Golden Shoes and in Suttons Bay at The Painted Bird. You can also order online at baabaazuzu.com.

Michigan Soap | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Handmade by The Sudsy Mitten Soap Co. in scents like Maple Syrup, Lake Effect and Michigan Honey, these little gems are the perfect stocking stuffer for the mitten lover in your house. Available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen.

Keep it Fresh Tee | High Five Threads

It wouldn’t be a Michigan themed gift list without one of the creative designs from High Five Threads in the Village in Traverse City. They pride themselves on Made in MI merchandise, designing several of their own T-shirt lines including the Keep it Fresh Tee. A portion of the proceeds go toward protecting the great lakes.


 Holiday Gift Guide 11 Spirits

From Barrel to Glass

Spirit of Pear | Black Star Farms

Looking for an impressive gift for the wine lover in your family? How about the Spirit of Pear from Black Star Farms featuring a real pear in the bottle. Everyone will ask, how’d they do that! You can tell them while wine starts in the vineyard, the bottle starts in the orchard. Available at all three Black Star Farms tasting room locations.

Redneck Wine Glass | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Not every wine drinker boasts the sophistication of an oenophile. If your friend’s taste runs toward the box rather than the bottle — or if they just appreciate a clever gift — how about the redneck wine glass. It’s hard to get snooty when you’re drinking from a Ball jar. Especially when it’s sporting a hot pink boa. Available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen.

Corn Whiskey | Grand Traverse Distillery

The latest creation from our favorite local distiller, Grand Traverse Distillery, is their corn whiskey. Made from Northern Michigan corn, locally grown, and distilled into a fine spirit in Traverse City, this clear whiskey is unlike anything you’ve tasted. And it’s only available from the Distillery, so stop by and pick up a bottle.

Leelanau Brillante | Bel Lago Vineyard & Winery

Every holiday wine list needs a bubbly. So here’s my pick for the year, Leelanau Brillante from Bel Lago. Bursting with flavors of tropical fruit and peach, and made from Cayuga, Seyval and Vignoles — one of my favorite varietals— this is a great wine to give, or to save. Drink it while trimming the tree, wrapping presents, making cookies…


 Holiday Gift Guide 11 Handmade

Handmade & Heartfelt

Letter Necklaces | Gallery Fifty

Gallery Fifty customers love these sterling silver pendants and charms. Available in upper or lower-case letters and sold with or without the ball-chain necklace, these simple stamped pieces make great gifts. Perfect for teens, a neighbor, and your BFF. Created by Pellston artist Hanni Yothers and available at Gallery Fifty in the Village mercato.

Unity Collection | Korner Gem

I just love these. Shaped from Michigan beach stones like Leland Blue, Petoskey, granite and chain corral, these necklaces are one of a kind. The beads are sold separately or in pairs, and available in large and small sizes, they can be combined to create beautiful necklaces. Very affordable on their own, or add gemstones and accessory pieces for a truly magnificent gift. Designed and crafted on site at Korner Gem in Traverse City.

Glass Fortune Cookies | Gallery Fifty

Hand-blown boroscilicate glass (known for it’s durability, like Pyrex) each fortune cookie reveals a special message for your friend or loved one. Sold in a tiny take-out container they’re an adorable way to share the love this holiday season. Buy them for girlfriends, teachers, or anyone who needs some good fortune. Designed by Nancy Nagel of Colorado, and sold locally at Gallery Fifty.

Stone Cairn Earrings | Becky Thatcher Designs

This summer I noticed an increasing number of balanced stone sculptures on the beaches of Northern Michigan. These stone "cairns" inspired the work of Becky Thatcher who creates earrings from Lake Michigan beach stones gathered near her gallery in Glen Arbor. What a nice idea for the beach comber in your circle of friends. Available from Becky Thacher Designs in Traverse City, Glen Arbor, Leland and Harbor Springs.

Pretty Stinkin’ Cute Skirts | Pretty Stinkin’ Green

Without exaggeration, I cannot wear one of my Pretty Stinkin’ Green skirts without being stopped on the street by strangers admiring it and asking where it came from. So I would be remiss not to include my friends Deb & Hannah who design these amazing skirts. They are available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures and on Etsy, or you can visit their Facebook page to see how to get a custom made skirt from our own T-shirts.


Holiday Gift Guide 11 Foodie

Foodie Finds

Flavor Trio Oil & Vinegar with Cookbook | Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars

This year I’m excited to share new products from Fustinis: flavor trio bottle and their brand new cookbook. Available in three flavor combos (bread & vegetable, salad dressing, desserts) this stacked bottle design is a great way to present these unique products. And the cookbook will make sure your gift comes with plenty of instructions for use. Available at Fustini’s in Traverse City, Petoskey, Ann Arbor or Holland and online.

Coco Mojo | Sweet Asylum

If you like to pack gift baskets with Michigan treats you’ll want to make a stop at Sweet Asylum in the Village Mercato and pick up some Coco Mojos. These crunchy almonds are coated with a unique blend of cacao (not cocoa), spices and a little sugar for sweetness. The cacao is organic so you know you are enjoying a healthy snack. Sold with or without dried cherries.

Specialty Salts | Suttons Bay Trading Co.

If you have a chef on your shopping list you know it can be challenging to come up with a kitchen accessory they don’t already have. So why not add something unusual to their arsenal of flavors. Suttons Bay Trading Co., a new spice shop in Suttons Bay, has many options. But I found myself drawn to the colorful salts from around the world. Himalayan Pink, Black Hawaiian, Red Hawaiian and Smoked Course Sea Salt were just a few of the options available in store and online.

Slabtown Coffee Caramel Corn

Beware, this stuff is addictive. I ran into the owner, a friend from years back, in Oleson’s grocery store this summer and was introduced to her new product. Who knew that coffee and caramel corn would be such a perfect combination. And it’s made right here in Traverse City, which I love. You can find it in local grocery stores like Oleson’s or specialty shops like Suttons Bay Trading Co.


 Holiday Gift Guide 11 Hostess

Host with the Most

Jeri Mateus Mitten Plate | At Home

I love the creative painted designs of local ceramic artist Jeri Mateus of Lime Lake. This little mitten dish is only about 4" square, but imagine it piled with a stack of homemade cookies and wrapped in celephane. Just a little something for your boss, a teacher or the holiday party host. Available at the little store with the lime green awning: At Home in Suttons Bay.

Magnetic Note Holder | Gallery Fifty

No more searching through drawers for a pen and notebook. This simple gift idea puts a standard 3×5" notebook right where you need it: on the fridge, in a locker, file cabinet or other metallic surface. Embellished with colorful glass beads and created by artist Cherie Haney of Ann Arbor, these magnetic holders include a notebook and are also sold as a set including a magnetic pen holder. Available at Gallery Fifty in the Village mercato.

Handmade Mug | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Whether they prefer coffee or tea your gift recipient is sure to love a handmade ceramic mug from artist Anne Marie. Designed especially for Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen these mugs are handpainted and stamped with the word Michigan or Interlochen. Package that with some coffee from Bud’s or a gift card and you’re good to go.

Glass Business Card Holder | Gallery Fifty

Need a gift that’s professional? Maybe something for your boss or a colleague? How about a handblown glass business card holder from Gallery Fifty. They have a large stock of colors to suit any style. And they’re affordable too. Classy, elegant and functional. What more do you need?


Holiday Gift Guide 11 Festive

Festive, Fun & Fantastic

Santa Gourd | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Designed by artist Deb Mazur these santa sculptures are painted, antiqued and embellished. Made from dried gourds and hand-painted clay. Each design is original and unique. Available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen.

Winter Sports Ornaments | Woodland Creek Furniture

On my adventures this summer I discovered Woodland Creek Furniture is a treasure trove of holiday ornaments for the up-north outdoor enthusiast. They have hunting, fishing, hiking, snow sports, bears and a bevy of woodland creatures all waiting to hang on your tree. Stop by their showroom on US 31 North in Traverse City.

Mulling Spices | Suttons Bay Trading Co.

There’s no better smell at Christmas than cinnamon and cloves simmering away blending a cherry wine into a warm holiday treat. I discovered Suttons Bay Trading Co. makes their mulling spices available in single servings or a 3 oz. package. It’s great with Michigan wine, or apple cider for the non-alcoholic version. Yum!

Keith Smith Handpainted Ornaments | Country Christmas

I couldn’t possibly have a holiday gift guide without mentioning Country Christmas now that I know what their store is like after my visit this summer. There are too many things to mention, so I picked one that really caught my eye — the hand-painted wood ornaments from Traverse City artist Keith Smith. There are many designs available, but when they’re handpainted you know they’re all unique. Just promise me you’ll stop by Country Christmas on M-72 for a visit this season.

Leland & Fishtown Ornaments | Two Fish Gallery

If you have friends and family who summer in this area I’m sure they’d love a momento from one of everyone’s favorite local destinations: Fishtown in Leland. The Two Fish Gallery sells many different ornaments by artist Nancy Deyoung representing Leland, Fishtown and Leelanau County. Stop by and tell Jennifer I said Hi.



That’s a wrap for my holiday gift guide this season. But let me leave you with one final wish.

Shop at Small Businesses,

Shop Local,

and if you can’t make it into a Northern Michigan storefront, Shop Local Online!

By |2011-11-22T11:59:50+00:00November 22nd, 2011|Benzie, Hometown Highlights, Leelanau, Traverse City|0 Comments

10 Places I've Never Been: Chateau de Leelanau

10 Places I've Never Been image


This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.


The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: Chateau de Leelanau Winery

Chateau de Leelanau winery image

Chateau de Leelanau Winery

When it comes to wine, I prefer to drink local. Since I live in the heart of northern Michigan wine country and work with several wineries I’ve had the opportunity to visit many tasting rooms. But until this summer I’d never been to Chateau de Leelanau. And it’s not because it’s off the beaten path. In fact, Chateau de Leelanau is on one of the most well traversed highways in the area, M-22, at the beginning of the Leelanau Wine Trail. And yet so many people pass them by. I wanted to find out why.

Matt Gregory Chateau de Leelanau image

Matt Gregory, vintner, greeter and face of Chateau de Leelanau, was in the tasting room on the fateful day I walked through the door and sprang the news of my 10 Places I’ve Never Been series. Much like his wine industry cohorts he generously offered his time and some wine samples to walk me through the history of Chateau de Leelanau.


I’d like to say you can’t miss their tasting room, located on M-22 next to E. Hilltop Road, but the truth is so many people do. And that’s one thing the new owners are determined to change.

Chateau de Leelanau tasting room

Those who remember the former tasting space will not recognize the building since Matt and his family moved in. They’ve cleared out the dusty tchotchkes, expanded the tasting bar and reinvented their brand with a simple clean logo. The goal: to rebuild the reputation of a winery born in the new millenium, and reborn in 2010.


While Matt and his family are new to the wine business, they are certainly not new to agriculture. In fact, that’s how they ended up with a winery in the first place. The tasting room for Chateau de Leelanau sits on M-22 just south of Suttons Bay. But the vineyard is several miles north — right next door to the Gregory family orchards, aka: Cherry Bay Orchards and Shoreline Fruit. When the winery and vineyards went up for sale, it seemed like a good time to make some wine.

Chateau de Leelanau wine imageChateau de Leelanau wine image

I arrived in the winery for my tasting the same day Matt submitted his wines to the Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition for the first time. Since they’re a new winery, with less than a dozen wines for 2010, he sent them all. But the Gregory family didn’t join the wine ranks for the medals.

Chateau de Leelanau glass imageChateau de Leelanau wine image

"We want to create palatte pleasing wines for the customers, that represent the agricultural background of Leelanau County," Matt explained. The industry folks often preach dry, dry, dry but nearly 90% of Chateau de Leelanau’s customers want sweet, sweet, sweet. The challenge is to produce wines that bring a smile to all their lips.

 Chateau de Leelanau labels imageChateau de Leelanau cider imageChateau de Leelanau wine image

After trying the wines, I was quite surprised by my favorites. Typically I prefer sweet whites, and while I like their Select Harvest, and signature Bianca, that’s not what I left with. I fell for a bottle of red, Solem Farm Red to be exact. It’s the perfect backyard BBQ, easy-to-drink, red wine. My second surprise was their Hard Apple Cider. The unusual combination of Sweetango™, Northern Spy and Golden Delicious apples, grown on the family farm, makes for a fabulous hard cider.


Little known fact: the Cherry Wine and Hard Apple Cider are Chateau de Leelanau’s best sellers and neither were in their sights when they set out to make wine. This year Chateau de Leelanau will produce 1000 cases of Cherry wine, compared to a very limited supply of their signature Bianca, at just over 40 cases.

Chateau de Leelanau wine imageChateau de Leelanau wine corralChateau de Leelanau walkup window

If there’s one thing that stands out about Matt and the approach at Chateau de Leelanau it’s their laid-back style.

"We’re farmers, man! We’re not a snooty joint,"

Matt explained as he showed off one of their latest additions. They’ve fenced in a ‘wine corral’ just outside the building, complete with a window for walk-up service. This summer guests will be able to relax and enjoy a taste or a glass while they soak up the sun with friends and family. And after hearing about weekend specials like Cherry Sangria (see their recipe on our

Summer Sippers: Cocktails from Northern Michigan

post) and the infamous cherry wine snowcone…I’m definitely coming back this summer!

Chateau de Leelanau wines imageChateau de Leelanau open sign

Before I left I had to get some food and wine pairings from the winemaker. So next time you’re debating a menu, give these a try:

>> Cherry Wine paired with pulled pork tacos

>> Bianca with bacon-wrapped scallops

>> Solem Farm Red & anything off the backyard BBQ

Vintner’s Picks: 2010 Cab Franc and 2010 Pinot Noir


I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the "family five" that make up the Chateau de Leelanau crew.

Don Gregory: The patriarch of Cherry Bay Orchards, one of the state’s largest cherry growers and production facilities

Matt Gregory: Nephew to Don, my host with the most, face of Chateau de Leelanau, and vintner

Roger Veliquette: The "food science guy," Roger crossed over from the Great Lakes Packing Company and brings years of experience to the table to tackle day-to-day aspects of winemaking

Andrew Gregory: Brother to Matt, who work for the marketing arm of the family cherry business, Shoreline Fruit

Mark Miezeo: Cousin to Andrew and Matt, and farm manager

Chateau de Leelanau truck image

Chateau de Leelanau is located on M-22 south of Sutton’s Bay at the intersection of E. Hilltop Road, that’s 5048 S. West Bayshore Dr, Suttons Bay for those using a GPS. For more information reach them by phone at 231.271.8888 or visit them online at chateaudeleelanau.com. Show them some love by becoming a fan of their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @CDLwinery You can also find them on the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.


If there’s a place in northern Michigan you’ve been dying to visit, but you’ve never made the time, I’d like to hear about it. Join the conversation on the Traverse Traveler Facebook page, and let me know where you’re going.


And stay tuned, as I plan to explore the next stop on my 10 Places I’ve Never Been tour:  Korner Gem.

By |2011-07-13T21:37:15+00:00July 13th, 2011|Leelanau, Place's I've Never Been|0 Comments

Summer Sippers: Cocktails from Northern Michigan

Cocktail recipes from Northern MichiganI love my Michigan Wine, but sometimes summer calls for a cocktail.

So I decided to share a collection of drink recipes made from Michigan wine, spirits and beer. Cheers!




Raz Be Daz  |  Recipe from Black Star Farms

To make this, pour ¾ glass of Black Star Farms Be Dazzled Sparkling wine, and then top off the glass with a little Black Star Farms Sirius Raspberry Dessert Wine.



True North Lemonade  |  Recipe from Grand Traverse Distillery

1 ½ – 2oz Grand Traverse Distillery True North Cherry Flavored Vodka
6oz of a tart lemonade, Simply Lemonade in the refrigerated section of local stores works great.
Add a splash of pomegranate, cherry, or cranberry juice.

Mix over ice and enjoy.



Strawberry Sangria  |  Recipe from 2 Lads Winery
1 bottle of 2Lads Rosé of Cabernet Franc
½ cup white sugar (more or less to taste)
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 cups ginger ale (Vernors if you can get it!)
In a large pitcher mix the wine, sugar, lemon and strawberries. Refrigerate for several hours, or up to a day. Add ginger ale just before serving over ice. Enjoy!



World Famous Cherry Wine Sangria  |  Recipe from Chateau de Leelanau Vineyard & Winery

2 bottles Chateau de Leelanau Cherry Wine
½ bottle Chateau de Leelanau Sparkling Cherry Juice
1 orange, sliced
½ pineapple, sliced
½ lemon, sliced
½ lime, sliced
1 qt fresh strawberries, sliced

Mix fruit and cherry wine together in large container, refrigerate. When ready to serve add sparking cherry juice and pour over ice.



Cherry-tini  |  Recipe from Uncorked Wine Bar

1 ½ oz. Grand Traverse Distillery True North Cherry Flavored Vodka
1 oz Peninsula Cellars Melange
½ oz Indian Summer Cherry juice
splash grenadine

Mix on ice, pour into a martini glass and garnish with maraschino cherries.



RBB Summer Shandy  |  Recipe from Right Brain Brewery

Right Brain Brewery Blue Magic Lavender wheat (made with local Lavender from Light of Day organics) or our Citral Wheat (made with local Nugget hops) mixed with Grand Traverse Distillery Wheat Vodka.



Applemosa  |  Recipe from Bel Lago Vineyard & Winery

Bel Lago Brut Rose Sparkling Wine with a splash of Apple Cider



Peach Fus"tini"  |  Recipe from Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars

½ oz. Fustini’s Peach Balsamic Vinegar
1 oz. Grand Traverse Distillery True North Vodka
Sparkling water & ice

Mix peach balsamic vinegar and vodka in a glass with ice. Add sparkling water to fill. Serve.



Blueberry Mint Lemonade  |  Recipe by Drink Michigan

1/3 cup fresh mint
1 cup of blueberries
4 cups of water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 bag or 8 lemons)
1 cup of Grand Traverse Distillery Wheat Vodka

In a blender, add the water, lemon juice, mint leaves, blueberries, and sugar. Blend until mixture turns pink. Let sit for at least an hour, then strain to remove blueberry and mint leaves. Add in your vodka, chill and serve over ice!

* For a family-friendly option, serve sans alcohol. A nice treat for the kiddos too.



Dragon’s Milk Ice Cream Float  |  Recipe by DinnerFeed

1 (pint, 6-ounce) bottle Dragon’s Milk Ale (New Holland Brewing)
6 large scoops vanilla ice cream
6 strawberries, each slliced into a fan for a garnish (optional)

Mound scoops on vanilla ice cream in bowls or glasses. Carefully divide and pour Dragon’s Milk over ice cream. (Pour slowly off to the lip of the glass. Dragon’s Milk is quite foamy.) Garnish with strawberry fans, if using, and serve.

* Might I suggest some Moomers ice cream if you’re in Traverse City, or if you’re at the grocery Hudsonville Ice Cream is also made in Michigan.


Remember, Buy Local also means Drink Local! Visit your local Michigan wineries, craft breweries and distilleries this summer.


By |2011-06-23T08:17:51+00:00June 23rd, 2011|local recipes, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Sail Away with Left Foot Charley/Right Brain Brewery 8/28

Left Foot Charley wine aboard Tall Ship ManitouHop aboard the Tall Ship Manitou for the Even Keel sail with Left Foot Charley and Right Brain Brewery


We’re all about working together in Northern Michigan. And sometimes we play together too. Right Brain Brewery and Left Foot Charley have teamed up to share the good ship Manitou for a special tall ship sail this Friday, August 28th.

Tickets are $40 for the sail, with a cash bar of Right Brain beers and Left Foot vino available on board. Tickets available at RBB and LFC. Only a few remain, so don’t wait.


For information on other special cruises aboard the Tall Ship Manitou, visit their website at www.tallshipsailing.com.

By |2009-08-26T09:34:13+00:00August 26th, 2009|Attractions, Events, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Traverse City Film Festival Opens with Street Party

Traverse City Film Festival imageTraverse City Film Festival Opens

Tuesday, July 28 from 5-9 PM there will be a Traverse City Film Festival Opening Kick Off Street Party on Front Street between Park and Union Street in Downtown Traverse City.

The event is free and features amazing balloon sculptures by New York artist Jason Hackenwerth, music by Charlie’s Root Fusion and Rojo Loco, and a 6 p.m. opening ceremony with Michael Moore, honoring 2009 Michigan Filmmaker Award Recipient Rich Brauer.


The 5th Annual Traverse City Film Festival runs from July 28th through August 2nd. There are still tickets available, click here to purchase online. And don’t forget about the free movies each night in the Open Space. For more details and information on the festival visit their website at www.traversecityfilmfest.org.


Looking for a break from the downtown action, check out Left Foot Charley & the Vino Factory in The Village on July 31st from 6-9pm. Tickets are $20 and include special food & wine pairings, exclusive winery tours and, of course, golden tickets. Call Left Foot Charley at 231.995.0500 to reserve a spot today.

Black Star Farms Celebrates 10 Years

Black Star Farms wineStop by Black Star Farms this July for Anniversary Specials

In honor of their 10 year anniversary Black Star Farms is celebrating all month long. Stop by their tasting rooms in Suttons Bay, Old Mission Peninsula and TASTES in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons for a few unique opportuniities only available this month…or while supplies last.


Bring home a special anniversary label Pinot Gris for $10 (if you can find any left) or a bottle of Pinot Noir for only $12.50. Better hurry though, they were out of the Pinot Gris in Suttons Bay already!

Are you a returning BSF customer? Bring you tasting glass with you and receive a coupon for a 10 year annivesary logo glass with any $10 wine purchase.

Check out the new Fire & Vine cafe and receive 10% off your order of a wood-fired oven pizza and two glasses of wine.

Specials last until July 31st, or while supplies last.


There’s never a bad time to visit Black Star Farms wineries and tasting rooms. Check out our On The Vine photo gallery to see Black Star Farms vines develop over the course of one growing season.

By |2009-07-12T14:02:41+00:00July 12th, 2009|Attractions, Events, Leelanau, Wineries|0 Comments

Women's Winter Tour at Crystal Mountain

 Women's Winter Tour graphicCelebrate Women, Winter and Chocolate!

The Women’s Winter Tour returns this weekend, January 31st and February 1st at Crystal Mountain Resort. The Tour is a non-competitive event featuring cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and lots of fun. Forget about the SuperBowl, it’s time for a souper-bowl with wine and chocolate.

  • Dozens of events will take place over the two-day extravaganza including:
  • Snowshoe d’ Art through the Michigan Legacy Art Park
  • Brownie contest
  • Dancing to the Fabulous Horndogs
  • Women only Winter Ski Tour including 3K, 5K and 10K loops and snowshoeing

The Women’s Winter Tour benefits the local nonprofit Active Women Now, Inc. This organization has raised over $80,000 for the Traverse City women’s shelter and other local charities.

Online registration is available, but the easy printable registration form is the best way to sign up. Click here for the printable form.


The event is hosted by Crystal Mountain Resort. They will donate $3 for each woman staying at the Resort who signs up for the tour.

While you’re there check out the brand new Crystal Spa. Special discounts are available for Winter Tour participants. For details on the packages available from Crystal Mountain Resort click here.


By |2009-01-28T13:12:10+00:00January 28th, 2009|Benzie, Check This Out, Events|0 Comments

Hometown Highlights: Holiday Gift Guide

Hometown Guide for Holiday Gifts

A resource of staff favorites for this holiday season


One of the reasons I love living in the Traverse area is being surrounded by unique and unusual restaurants, stores and locations. When guests come to town we always insist on dining at a local restaurant and taking them to some of our favorite shopping haunts. So when the holidays roll around it’s no surprise that I like to spend time searching for unique regional gifts to share with friends and relatives who appreciate the Traverse area from afar. This year I thought it would be fun to talk with our clients and see what their favorite gifts are this holiday season. Their input, along with my own and some suggestions from Staton, make up our Hometown Guide to Holiday Gifts.


Care for a Drink?

When it comes to wine everyone has their favorites, especially the winemakers. That’s part of the fun, but it’s also what makes wine such a tricky thing to give. My advice is to always consider the recipient, whether they prefer white or red, and if you’ve no guidelines at all, get a recommendation. And don’t worry, if you prefer your beverages from a tap we have some great ideas for you as well.

Black Star Farms Bubbly Nouveau imageCoryn – Black Star Farms, 2008 Bubbly Nouveau
This wine is reminiscent of a Riesling with subtle fruit flavors of apricot, apple, and melon… think Moscato d’Asti. The Bubbly Nouveau pairs well with seasonal dishes, appetizers, and spicy flavors. It will make a delicious addition to holiday menus and is meant to be drunk young.

Stacey – Left Foot Charley, 2007 Red Drive
A medium bodied, smooth Cabernet Franc blend. The toasty, smokey nose and vanilla undertones reminds me of a warm campfire. It pairs great with alot of hearty meals like pot roast, pork tenderloin or even pasta bolognese. And its excellent in mulled wine as a winter warmer!

Peninsula Cellars Manigold wine imageTom – Peninsula Cellars, 2006 Manigold Gewurtztraminer
This single vineyard, limited production Gewurz has an intense floral bouquet complementing ripe grapefruit flavors, with a spicy finish

Cindy – Forty-Five North, 2007 Icebox Pinot Gris
Made from late harvest pinot gris grapes this is our answer to ice wine. Truly the whip cream of dessert.

Staton’s Favorites
Forty-Five North Peach-Apricot Mead, Left Foot Charley GerwurtztraminerPeninsula Cellars Detention and Black Star Farms Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling. Each of these is remarkable, distinctive with or without food and guaranteed to please the varied palates of seasonal guests…no danger of seeing partially-consumed pours at the end of an evening. And not to be forgotten, a growler of Distill My Heart Bourbon Stout from Right Brain Brewery.


For the Foodie

Edible gifts are some of my favorites. They are great to have on hand for hostess gifts or pull them together and make a truly thoughtful custom basket. Many area retailers even have packages assembled and ready to ship. We asked our clients for some of their favorites and of course I had to weigh in on this one.

Underground Cheesecake on a Stick imageKristen – The Village

Some of my favorites include a bottle of Red Drive Red from Left Foot Charleya bottle of Artisan Red from TASTES of Black Star FarmsGrocer’s Daughter Chocolates from Sweet Asylum, Karma Candy (chocolate covered espresso beans) from Higher GroundsCheesecake on a stick from The Underground Cheesecake Co."Brownies to Live For" from The Silvertree Deligrissini bread sticks from Pleasanton Bakery
Ann – Learn Great Foods
Check out the FoodBooks for recipes, tips on buying from farmers, health benefits and more for each featured food. Newest editions include Fish, Bison, Herbs and Asparagus. Available now online.
Staff picks include the brand new Cherries Galore – Premium Pie Filling and Dessert Topping, one of a kind Black Cherry Wine or how about a gift basket assembled in a stainless steel cherry colander. 
Brandy’s Picks
I love picking out oils and vinegars from Fustini’s – my current favorites are Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar. I’m also a recent addict of the parmesan olive bread from Pleasanton Bakery. And I’ve yet to stop in toThe Radish without leaving with one of their fresh baked goods. The granola nut bars with chocolate chips are fantastic.
Staton’s Favorites
Chocolate covered cherries from The Cherry Stop, a cup of warm sangria from Ciao Bella, and a flavor infusion of oil and vinegars from Fustini’s. There’s nothing better than a HOT bowl of soup, especially the Tomato Basil at The Radish.
Local Artisans
Like wine, art can be difficult to choose, especially for someone else. Here are a few suggestions, for all price ranges, that might make your shopping a little easier this holiday season. If all else fails, check out these great galleries and shops and see if they make wish lists.
glass vial necklace imageKristen – The Village
The glass vial necklace from Gallery 50 is a cool mix of silver, glass beads and medicine vials.  Also love the earring necklaces at Jeanette Veeder Designs made from vintage earrings and other fun bits and pieces…perfect for the girl who likes to do her own thing.
What about a collection of wild flowers or winter scene notecards? You can create your own combination of Gwen Frostic’s original block prints or choose one of the pre-packaged sets. There’s also a full line of rubber stamps for reproducing Gwen’s designs at home.
James Blanchard Fordite ringsBrandy’s Choice
Too many favorites to mention them all, but here’s a sample. Signature "folded design" rings from Becky Thatcher Designs, an A-line skirt in bold black & white from Haystacks…which is designed and sewn in Leelanau County, one of Kristen Jongen’s paintings from Art and Soul Gallery in Downtown Traverse City. And I love to tell people about the jewelry made from Fordite or Detroit agate. Pick up a ring at Gallery 50 from artist James Blanchard and get the whole story.
Staton’s Shopping Haunts
Belstone Gallery in Downtown Traverse City for jewelry and art glass, calendars and notecards from Gwen Frostics in Benzonia and we always find something we can’t live without from the artists at Michigan Artist’s Gallery in Sutton’s Bay.

Gift’s for the Guy or Gal with Everything

We all have them on our list. Friends or relatives that already have what they want, or aren’t too forthcoming with suggestions for what might be on their wish list. But fear not. I have a few ideas that you might not have considered. How about a day trip, now or when spring returns, so they can enjoy this great place we call home? Or what about the sportsman, or the patron of the arts? Here are some great suggestions so you can finish your shopping before New Year’s Day!

Coppelia ballet at Interlochen imageSteve – Interlochen Center for the Arts
My vote is for Coppélia. Based on a tale by E.T.A. Hoffman (who also inspired "The Nutcracker"), “Coppélia” is a magical masterpiece that introduced automatons, dolls and marionettes into the world of ballet. The comic storyline revolves around a mysterious (and faintly diabolical) toymaker, and a love triangle between a feisty village girl named Swanhilda, her fiancé Franz, and the toymaker’s amazingly lifelike clockwork doll. One of the few true comedy ballets, it’s an enchanting holiday treat for the entire family!

golf simulator imageDoug – Traverse City Golf Center
For the golfer on your list, how about a winter driving range membership or a golf lesson package from the Traverse City Golf Center? Or, for an afternoon of fun, play an hour of golf at Pebble Beach on one of two Golf Simulators located on-site. 

Colleen – Downtown Traverse City Association
It may be unusual, but that’s what makes it a showstopper: The upside down tree from Holiday Traditions in Downtown Traverse City. Just what the festive decorator in your family would dream of.

Other Fun Ideas

  • Lifetime membership at Right Brain Brewery, complete with growler, mug and t-shirt
  • Culinary farm tour on Leelanau Peninsula this spring with Learn Great Foods. (Visit our photo gallery to see what fun Staton and I had this fall)
  • For the music lovers, how about an ornate music box from The Music House Museum
  • Treat someone to an Ethnic Night dinner out at The Bluebird Restaurant in Leland
  • Explore the local waters with Traverse Tall Ship Company, for an evening sail then bunk in the cabins below deck on an overnight Bed & Breakfast sail. You’ll have to wait until May 1st, but gift certificates and reservations can be made today
  • A haircut from Robertsons…keeping the memory of Sandy Raymond, Staton’s barber for 24 years, alive.


I’d say that should give you a lot to shop for this holiday season. From Downtown Traverse City, to The Village and out into the smaller communities that make up Northern Michigan, there are countless unique buys this holiday season. My last suggestion is to always be on the lookout for a great find, a special reminder of why we love the Traverse Area. And remember that shopping local throughout the year supports the businesses and families that keep this region strong.


Happy Hunting!

Cherry Stop Now Offering Forty-Five North Wines

Enjoy a Taste of Forty-Five North Exclusively in Downtown Traverse City

With their tasting room still under construction Forty-Five North needed a place for wine lovers to sample their growing list of award-winning wines. The Cherry Stop, on Front Street in Traverse City, offered the perfect solution. Their new wine bar allows guests to sample wines by flight, as an individual taste, or even by the glass. 

Shawn Walters, winemaker for Forty-Five North has already created some award-winning wines at the state-of-the-art winery in Leelanau Peninsula. The Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir Rose and Dry Riesling all achieved "Double Gold" awards at the 2008 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition in California.

Currently there are 9 wines from Forty-Five North available for tasting at The Cherry Stop including their Late Harvest Vignole, 45 White and Pinot Noir which have also received prestigious awards. 


For more information on the Wine Bar at the Cherry Stop check out our recent post here. For a map and details on their location check out our Attractions page.

Forty-Five North cards are coming soon to the Meal Tickets & Unusual Ideas displays and website so stay tuned!

Kick-off the Wine Festival Season in Leland

 The 23rd Annual Leland Wine & Food Festival is this Saturday, June 14th

It wouldn’t be summer in Northern Michigan without the colorful, flavorful and entertaining festivals that fill our calendars and flood our senses with the nostalgia we relive all winter long. If there’s a season to celebrate, a fruit to hold above all others, or a heritage to proudly proclaim then there’s probably a festival in it’s name. With acres of grapes lining up across the Leelanau and Old Mission landscapes it’s no wonder the wine festivals are among our favorites.


The Leland Wine & Food Festival is a celebration of summer; good food, great friends, entertainment, art, and of course, the bounty of our local vintners. The tiny fishing village, otherwise known as Fishtown, will be bursting at its seams as hundreds of visitors and locals spill out of the tent and onto the town. 

If you haven’t made the trip up M-22 to Leland, it’s worth the drive. The festival is a great reason to hop in the car for a day trip. But if large crowds, live music, food and fun aren’t your thing…you might wait until next week.


The 2008 commemorative poster was created by artist Melanie Parke and is available for sale in Leland. The festival is Saturday June 14th from noon – 6pm, Fishtown in Leland. 

By |2008-06-13T21:36:43+00:00June 13th, 2008|Check This Out, Day Trips, Leelanau|0 Comments

Wine Bar Opens at the Cherry Stop

The Cherry Stop Brings Wine Tasting to Downtown Traverse City

If you’ve wandered into the popular cherry store this spring you’ve probably noticed some changes. Owners Nick and Jamie Roster took on a few renovations, and some minor construction to create a fabulous new resource for wine lovers and area wineries alike. Their Northern Michigan Wine Bar will feature wine selections from over 20 local wineries. Guests will have the opportunity to taste and compare wines in flights or by the glass.


They are currently featuring two flights of cherry wines, representing five different wineries in each, as well as a flight of Riesling. The paid tastings, as required by state liquor laws, are reasonably priced, with flights for $3.50 and single tastings for $0.75. And unlike most tasting rooms their wines are also available by the glass. The Cherry Stop has increased their wine inventory substantially to accommodate the new tasting bar and allow guests the option to purchase a bottle before they leave.


With an ever growing number of area wineries, and countless wines available, the Rosters plan to feature new wines and wineries on a rotating basis. Future opportunities include special events with the winemakers, featured tastings, and food pairings including cheese and desserts from local businesses.


For more information about The Cherry Stop, including a map to their location, check out their card on our Attractions page, or visit their website here.


Corks vs. Screw Caps, Local Winemakers Open to New Closures

When it comes to protecting their precious vintage some local wineries are making the switch from corks to screw caps. What it lacks in drama, it makes up in efficiency.


According to Lee Lutes, winemaker for Black Star Farms, the Stelvin closure, otherwise known as the screw cap, does a better job of protecting the wine from spoiling than does a traditional cork. When they opened their new winery on Old Mission, Black Star Farms added the ability to bottle with screw caps. The first of their wines to utilize this closure is their ’07 Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling, which is now available in the tasting rooms.


Another winery utilizing the screw cap option is the newcomer Forty-Five North. Winemaker Shawn Walters is enthusiastic about the use of metal closures on their wines. In fact 90 percent of their wines are under screw caps, including their sparkling rose, cider, peach and cherry. 


But there are two sides to this story. Bryan Ulbrich of Left Foot Charley has bottled only one wine, the 2007 Pinot Blanc, with this closure. "Using this closure requires some subtle changes in winemaking. I am doing this as an experiment. Cork is a very sound closure and it is the most environmentally friendly choice," said Ulbrich.


Peninsula Cellars is not currently set-up to handle screw top closures. Owner John Kroupa explained it may be several years before they make the investment in the necessary equipment to bottle in this way. And there’s also the factor of consumer acceptance to consider. When asked his opinion on the use of the closure he replied, " I am for their use. However, mentally there is something much more romantic about popping a cork on a nice bottle of wine, rather than twisting the cap off."


It sounds like the jury is still out on this one. As the wine industry grows in Northern Michigan I expect we’ll continue to see the technology follow. I’m a bit more of a traditionalist. I love to see the graphics and logos that wineries tattoo on their corks. It’s a fun and inexpensive souvenir of a memorable wine event or a special dinner. And frankly, I won’t be keeping a bowl of plastic caps on my coffee table. So my vote is to keep the cork! But decide for yourself. And in the end, it’s not about the closure, it’s what’s inside that counts.

By |2008-05-27T17:34:23+00:00May 27th, 2008|Leelanau, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Northern Michigan Wine Summit at Park Place Hotel

 Join wineries from across the area for the 2nd Annual Northern Michigan Wine Summit on Monday, April 28, 2008 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm at the Park Place Hotel. Taste regional wines, get a preview some of the NEW wineries opening soon, and meet the winemakers as they gather to share the fruits of their harvest. Public welcome.


By |2008-04-28T10:05:44+00:00April 28th, 2008|Check This Out, Events, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments