/Tag: wineries

Northern Michigan Winery Guide (Infographic)

Northern Michigan Winery Guide graphic

In honor of Michigan Wine Month Traverse Traveler created the Northern Michigan Winery Guide. This at-a-glance reference is designed to help travelers who are wine tasting in the Traverse City, Michigan region.

Which winery should you visit?

With 45 tasting rooms near Traverse City—and counting— it’s hard to decide where to go. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. However, we can offer some guidance to help you make an educated decision for your next wine tasting adventure. When you ask us which winery to visit we often answer with more questions:

Are you visiting Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula or another part of our region?

Are you wine tasting only, or are you looking for cider or mead?

Do you want vineyard views, or a view of the water?

Every winery has something unique to offer their guests. For the Northern Michigan Winery Guide we focused on answers to commonly asked questions. We gathered information on tasting fees. We noted the wineries with wine clubs. And, since destination weddings in Traverse City are so popular, we highlighted wineries equipped to host special events. This infographic provides the answers to the most common questions about planning a wine tour in Traverse City.

The Northern Michigan Winery Guide

Northern Michigan Winery Guide infographic

Click the image for a downloadable PDF

How to Get There

One of the best reasons to spend the day wine tasting in northern Michigan is taking the opportunity to explore our beautiful area. The vineyards and orchards, rural landscapes and small towns are part of the wine tasting experience. The scenic route is your path to adventure.

To help navigate from one winery to the next, use the Traverse Traveler app. The geo-location feature will sort the listings to show wineries closest to you. And you can use the maps to get turn-by-turn navigation.

We’re Growing All the Time

It’s important to note our wine region is growing and changing all the time. We anticipate new additions, updates and edits to the Northern Michigan Winery Guide. If you have new information that would help us keep it current, or tips for categories you’d like to see in the future, please leave us a comment or contact us.

Cheers!

©Traverse Traveler and TraverseTraveler.com. Content and links may be shared provided that full credit is given to Traverse Traveler and TraverseTraveler.com with direction to the original content. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited.

By |2018-12-12T08:51:55+00:00May 16th, 2018|Travel Tips, Wineries|0 Comments

How to Plan a Fall Color Wine Tour in Traverse City

Fall Color Wine Tour Traverse City image

Planning a fall color wine tour in Northern Michigan this year? We’ve gathered a few tips to make the most out of your next wine tasting trip from Traverse City to Leelanau or Old Mission Peninsula.

 

wine tour with Traverse Traveler app imageWhat to Bring

• Camera. The wineries are beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall during harvest season. You’ll want a few pics to remember your trip.

 

• Money. Many of the wineries now have tasting fees. Bring cash to cover fees where you might not purchase a bottle of wine. Each winery’s policy is different.

 

• Bottled water. Here’s a tip from the Kathy at Bel Lago, "For a successful wine tour, drink as much water as you do in wine. And be sure to eat."

 

• Snacks. Cheese spreads, breads, crackers and fruit all pair well with wine and won’t spoil your palette for the wines you’ve yet to taste.

 

• Smartphone. The Traverse Traveler app was designed with the wine tourist in mind. This handy mobile guide will help you research, plan and navigate a wine tour in northern Michigan. And best of all, it’s a free download for iPhone and Android users.

 

 

Wine Tour imagesWhat to Leave at Home

"Don’t wear lipstick." This tip is from Caryn at 2 Lads Winery. It’s not just the marks on the glass that are left behind. Lipstick imparts flavors like petroleum and other chemicals when wine passes over your lips.

 

• No perfume. It ruins your tasting experience, and everyone elses. The scent of one person’s perfume can contaminate the air in a tasting room for hours.

 

• Cigarettes. Your sense of smell is a large part of the wine tasting experience. And smoke is a very stong scent. Like perfume it affects those around you. So please leave the smokes in your car.

 

• Gum. You can’t taste past it, especially mint. So stow the Altoids and TicTacs too.

 

• Dogs & Kids. A wine tour is meant for the 21+ crowd. While you may see a few wine dogs throughout your travels, several of the tasting rooms offer food pairings, which means it’s against their health code to have dogs in the winery. So as a general rule, take the kids and pets to the beach or the park, but not on a wine tour.

 

 

Wine Tour Planning imagePlanning Your Wine Tour

With nearly three dozen wineries in our tip of the mitten it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips on planning a wine tasting route from Traverse City.

 

• You can’t see them all. Make a list of favorites, or recommended wineries you want to be sure to visit, and squeeze in others as time allows.

 

• Stick to one peninsula. There are two distinct AVAs in our region: Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission. Stick to one or the other for a one-day trip. The wineries are scattered throughout each peninsula making it difficult to jump back and forth.

 

• There’s an app for that! Use the Wineries category on the Traverse Traveler app to choose which stops you want to make. The maps are great for navigating between wineries via backroads for a more scenic tour, or finding the fastest route.

 

• Map it. Pick up the large map from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. If you’re not a smartphone user this will be a hands-on resource for finding your way around both peninsulas.

 

• Beware of high traffic times. If you’re wine tasting during peak fall season your best days are mid week. If you must come on a weekend be prepared for crowds. Most of our wineries have small tasting rooms with even smaller tasting bars. On a busy weekend you may have to wait to get a turn at the bar.

 

• Go off the beaten path. Most tasting rooms in Leelanau and Old Mission are lucky to be located near the vineyard. But that vineyard isn’t necessarily on a major highway. Part of the fun is exploring and discovering new locations. Start at the top of the peninsula and work your way south. Or make a plan to stay inland and visit some of the smaller boutique wineries.

 

 

Wine Tour Groups imageGroup Travel

There are some special considerations to planning a wine tour when you’re traveling with a group. Here are some tips to maximize the fun and minimize the hassle when planning a group wine tour.

 

• Size matters. Wine tasting with friends can be a wonderful experience. But if your group is too large it can cause problems which detract from your enjoyment. In our experience a group of 10 or less is the ideal size. Larger groups will have additional limitations on where you can go, how quickly you will move from place to place, and tasting room fees.

 

• Carpool. Part of the fun of a group wine tasting is comparing notes about each winery with your companions as your travel. Pile into one person’s vehicle, rent a van, or book a wine tour. And if at all possible, assign a designated driver. Listen to Ellie at Traverse City Tours who warns, "Don’t come on vacation and leave on probation."

 

• Large groups call ahead. For wine tours larger than 10 you should call ahead to each winery. Some tasting rooms are so small they do not allow buses or tours at all, and others have per person tasting fees for the entire party. These are not things you want to discover after you’ve driven across the peninsula to visit.

 

• Label wine purchases. Hopefully your group will discover many wines they like and purchasing bottles at each location. Pick up a box from the first stop. Using a Sharpie marker label each wine purchased with your initials, or used color coded garage sale stickers. Add additional boxes as needed. When the tour is complete it will be easy to determine which wine was purchased by whom.

 

• Pack a picnic. It’s important to eat and drink water throughout your wine tour. For a fun experience pack a cooler with cheese, fruit, crackers and bite-sized appetizers or sandwiches. Many of the wineries have picnic tables or areas outside where you can stop and enjoy your snack along the route. There are also markets and farm stands scattered throughout the peninsulas to pick-up snacks along the way.

 

• Be patient. "Be respectful of other tasters and wait patiently if there’s a crowd," says Chaning at Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery. When you’re traveling as a group this is especially important since you may have to break into smaller groups, or taste in shifts.

 

We’ve been on several group wine trips and completely agree with Kyle from Riverside Canoes who says, "My best wine tasting tip is to go tasting with your closest friends. The wine always tastes better!."

 

 

Wine Tour Tips imagesSip Tips from the Pros

Winemakers and tasting room staff are incredibly knowledgeable about their products and their craft. Here are a few of their tips for making the most of a northern Michigan wine tasting experience.

 

• It’s OK to spit. Ask Bel Lago winemaker Cristin Hosmer and she’ll tell you, "Spitting is OK. In fact it’s encouraged." It cuts down on your consumption of alcohol. So remember, "The dump bucket is your friend."

 

• Chew your sparkles. When tasting a sparkling wine, "You don’t want to drink bubbly like you kiss your grandmother." If you’ve been pursing your lips when you sip sparkling wine from a glass you’ve got it all wrong. Instead,"Chew, hold and slowly swallow," instructs Don at L. Mawby. By chewing the wine the bubbles explode in your mouth allowing the flavors to disperse. Try it. It’s a whole new experience.

 

• Eat mild not wild. "Don’t eat strong flavored foods  — onion, garlic and spicy dishes — before or during a wine tour," warns Coryn of Black Star Farms. While a bottle of wine may pair well with some of these dishes, the pungent flavors will linger throughout your wine tour affecting the rest of the wines you taste.

 

• Not a free drunk. Wine tasting is not a free ticket to inebriation. "Don’t treat a wine tour like happy hour at a bar," reminds Tom at Peninsula Cellars. Guests in a tasting room are there to learn about wine, and are offered tastes (sometimes free) to determine which wines they might like best. If you’re more interested in hanging out at a bar and chatting with your girlfriends, you’ve got the wrong kind of bar. Just be respectful of the staff’s time, and the product that they’re freely sharing so that you’ll discover something you’d like to buy.

 

 

A wine tour is a great way to explore Traverse City and the countryside in Northern Michigan. With these handy tips you’ll be sure to make the most of the adventure. For more fabulous day trips in northern Michigan this fall check out our post: 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip.

By |2012-10-04T19:33:00+00:00October 4th, 2012|Day Trips, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

How to Plan a Fall Color Wine Tour in Traverse City

Fall Color Wine Tour Traverse City image

Planning a wine tour in Northern Michigan this year? We’ve gathered a few tips to make the most out of your next wine tasting trip from Traverse City to Leelanau or Old Mission Peninsula.

 

What to Bring

• Camera. The wineries are beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall during harvest season. You’ll want a few pics to remember your trip.

• Money. Many of the wineries now have tasting fees. Bring cash to cover fees where you might not purchase a bottle of wine. Each winery’s policy is different.

• Bottled water. Here’s a tip from the Kathy at Bel Lago, “For a successful wine tour, drink as much water as you do in wine. And be sure to eat.”

• Snacks. Cheese spreads, breads, crackers and fruit all pair well with wine and won’t spoil your palette for the wines you’ve yet to taste.

• Smartphone. The Traverse Traveler app was designed with the wine tourist in mind. This handy mobile guide will help you research, plan and navigate a wine tour in northern Michigan. And best of all, it’s a free download for iPhone and Android users.

 

What to Leave at Home

“Don’t wear lipstick.” This tip is from Caryn at 2 Lads Winery. It’s not just the marks on the glass that are left behind. Lipstick imparts flavors like petroleum and other chemicals when wine passes over your lips.

• No perfume. It ruins your tasting experience, and everyone elses. The scent of one person’s perfume can contaminate the air in a tasting room for hours.

• Cigarettes. Your sense of smell is a large part of the wine tasting experience. And smoke is a very stong scent. Like perfume it affects those around you. So please leave the smokes in your car.

• Gum. You can’t taste past it, especially mint. So stow the Altoids and TicTacs too.

• Dogs & Kids. A wine tour is meant for the 21+ crowd. While you may see a few wine dogs throughout your travels, several of the tasting rooms offer food pairings, which means it’s against their health code to have dogs in the winery. So as a general rule, take the kids and pets to the beach or the park, but not on a wine tour.

 

Planning Your Wine Tour

With nearly three dozen wineries in our tip of the mitten it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips on planning a wine tasting route from Traverse City.

• You can’t see them all. Make a list of favorites, or recommended wineries you want to be sure to visit, and squeeze in others as time allows.

• Stick to one peninsula. There are two distinct AVAs in our region: Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission. Stick to one or the other for a one-day trip. The wineries are scattered throughout each peninsula making it difficult to jump back and forth.

• There’s an app for that! Use the Wineries category on the Traverse Traveler app to choose which stops you want to make. The maps are great for navigating between wineries via backroads for a more scenic tour, or finding the fastest route.

• Map it. Pick up the large map from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. If you’re not a smartphone user this will be a hands-on resource for finding your way around both peninsulas.

• Beware of high traffic times. If you’re wine tasting during peak fall season your best days are mid week. If you must come on a weekend be prepared for crowds. Most of our wineries have small tasting rooms with even smaller tasting bars. On a busy weekend you may have to wait to get a turn at the bar.

• Go off the beaten path. Most tasting rooms in Leelanau and Old Mission are lucky to be located near the vineyard. But that vineyard isn’t necessarily on a major highway. Part of the fun is exploring and discovering new locations. Start at the top of the peninsula and work your way south. Or make a plan to stay inland and visit some of the smaller boutique wineries.

 

 

Group Wine Tours

There are some special considerations to planning a wine tour when you’re traveling with a group. Here are some tips to maximize the fun and minimize the hassle when planning a group wine tour.

• Size matters. Wine tasting with friends can be a wonderful experience. But if your group is too large it can cause problems which detract from your enjoyment. In our experience a group of 10 or less is the ideal size. Larger groups will have additional limitations on where you can go, how quickly you will move from place to place, and tasting room fees.

• Carpool. Part of the fun of a group wine tasting is comparing notes about each winery with your companions as your travel. Pile into one person’s vehicle, rent a van, or book a wine tour. And if at all possible, assign a designated driver. Listen to Ellie at Traverse City Tours who warns, “Don’t come on vacation and leave on probation.”

• Large groups call ahead. For wine tours larger than 10 you should call ahead to each winery. Some tasting rooms are so small they do not allow buses or tours at all, and others have per person tasting fees for the entire party. These are not things you want to discover after you’ve driven across the peninsula to visit.

• Label wine purchases. Hopefully your group will discover many wines they like and purchasing bottles at each location. Pick up a box from the first stop. Using a Sharpie marker label each wine purchased with your initials, or used color coded garage sale stickers. Add additional boxes as needed. When the tour is complete it will be easy to determine which wine was purchased by whom.

• Pack a picnic. It’s important to eat and drink water throughout your wine tour. For a fun experience pack a cooler with cheese, fruit, crackers and bite-sized appetizers or sandwiches. Many of the wineries have picnic tables or areas outside where you can stop and enjoy your snack along the route. There are also markets and farm stands scattered throughout the peninsulas to pick-up snacks along the way.

• Be patient. “Be respectful of other tasters and wait patiently if there’s a crowd,” says Chaning at Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery. When you’re traveling as a group this is especially important since you may have to break into smaller groups, or taste in shifts.

We’ve been on several group wine trips and completely agree with Kyle from Riverside Canoes who says, “My best wine tasting tip is to go tasting with your closest friends. The wine always tastes better!.”

 

Sip Tips from the Pros

Winemakers and tasting room staff are incredibly knowledgeable about their products and their craft. Here are a few of their tips for making the most of a northern Michigan wine tasting experience.

• It’s OK to spit. Ask Bel Lago winemaker Cristin Hosmer and she’ll tell you, “Spitting is OK. In fact it’s encouraged.”It cuts down on your consumption of alcohol. So remember, “The dump bucket is your friend.”

• Chew your sparkles. When tasting a sparkling wine, “You don’t want to drink bubbly like you kiss your grandmother.” If you’ve been pursing your lips when you sip sparkling wine from a glass you’ve got it all wrong. Instead,“Chew, hold and slowly swallow,” instructs Don at L. Mawby. By chewing the wine the bubbles explode in your mouth allowing the flavors to disperse. Try it. It’s a whole new experience.

• Eat mild not wild. “Don’t eat strong flavored foods  — onion, garlic and spicy dishes — before or during a wine tour,” warns Coryn of Black Star Farms. While a bottle of wine may pair well with some of these dishes, the pungent flavors will linger throughout your wine tour affecting the rest of the wines you taste.

• Not a free drunk. Wine tasting is not a free ticket to inebriation. “Don’t treat a wine tour like happy hour at a bar,” reminds Tom at Peninsula Cellars. Guests in a tasting room are there to learn about wine, and are offered tastes (sometimes free) to determine which wines they might like best. If you’re more interested in hanging out at a bar and chatting with your girlfriends, you’ve got the wrong kind of bar. Just be respectful of the staff’s time, and the product that they’re freely sharing so that you’ll discover something you’d like to buy.

 

A wine tour is a great way to explore Traverse City and the countryside in Northern Michigan. With these handy tips you’ll be sure to make the most of the adventure. For more fabulous day trips in northern Michigan this fall check out our post: 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:15+00:00October 4th, 2012|Travel Tips, Wineries|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

Take a Tour of 2 Lads Winery

2 Lads Winery tour photoGo Behind the Scenes at 2 Lads Winery on a Public Tour

One of the area’s most unique wineries is now opening their production area for tours. 2 Lads Winery on Old Mission Peninsula will conduct regular public tours every Monday, Thursday and Friday at noon and 3:00pm. Booking is on a first come, first served basis and accommodates up to 10 people.

Cost is $20 per person and includes a vineyard tour (weather permitting), cellar tour and a premium wine and food pairing led by one of the 2 Lads crew in the privacy of our gallery.
 

 

Taking a tour of one our area wineries is a great way to expand your knowledge of wine making, and discover what makes each winery, and the wines they produce, so unique. That’s why taking a Behind the Scenes tour is one of my 50 Ways to Love Your Summer.

 

 

 

By |2010-07-21T07:09:28+00:00July 21st, 2010|Attractions, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Welcome Bel Lago

Bel Lago Winery Mealtickets cardBel Lago…Beautiful Lake: Beautiful Winery

 

If your wine tasting tour has never lead you along the western shore of Lake Leelanau then you’ve missed one of the area’s best wineries. Bel Lago Winery, a recent addition to the Mealtickets little card family, sits across from Lake Leelanau with views of vineyards and crystal blue waters. But the vista pales in comparison to the wines.

 

Known for their amazing choice of varietals and blends, Bel Lago has won awards for nearly every wine entered in competition in the last five years! They began planting grapes in 1987 on the family-owned property, and opened the tasting room in 1999. And still it’s amazing how many people have not heard of this diamond on the shore. We’re hoping to change that.

So next time you’re headed out on a wine tour, or perhaps you’re picking up a bottle for dinner tonight, check out Bel Lago Winery. You can find a map to their off-the-beaten-path location on our Dining and Wineries page. And take a trip to the website for more information, www.bellago.com.

In case you’re wondering, the photo on the card is their view. Not bad, eh?

By |2010-03-19T09:49:40+00:00March 19th, 2010|Leelanau, Wineries|0 Comments

Virtual Wine Tasting with Black Star Farms

Tweet and Taste Michigan graphicTweet & Taste Michigan brings wine lovers together on Twitter for a virtual wine tasting

 

Have you ever wanted to taste wines with the winemaker and compare notes? What if you could sip and savor at home, in your jammies if you like, while discussing Michigan wine with other fans from across the country? On March 8, 2010 you can do just that. Thanks to the folks at Michigan By the Bottle all you need for this fun event are a few bottles of Black Star Farms wines, a computer and a Twitter account.

Black Star Farms Winery is participating in a virtual wine tasting with Tweet & Taste Michigan. Created by Shannon Casey the event brings wine bloggers, winemakers, master sommeliers and wine lovers together to learn and share wine notes online in real time.

 

The event on March 8th starts at 8pm and will feature three Black Star Farms wines:

  • 2008 Black Star Farms Arcturos Dry Riesling
  • 2007 Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Noir
  • 2007 Black Star Farms Arcturos Barrel Aged Chardonnay

 

Interested participants can search twitter using the hashtag #ttmi to find all relevant info on Tweet and Taste Michigan. To RSVP for the event find them on Facebook here.

 

By |2010-02-21T18:13:59+00:00February 21st, 2010|Check This Out, Events, Leelanau, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Raclette & "Gewurzling" Tasting Event at Left Foot Charley

Left Foot Charley Introduces "Gewurzling" at Special Tasting Event Friday, January 29th

Left Foot Charley Winery partners with Werner and Margrit Kuehnis to share a traditional Swiss meal – a half wheel of Raclette cheese grilled with potatoes, Black Forest ham, country style bread, pickled veggies, fresh fruit and assorted Swiss sweets. Left Foot Charley introduces the 2009 "Gewurzling" on tap. You guessed it…Gewurztraminer and Riesling blended and served *loose from the tank. Additional Left Foot Charley wines to be named later, and hard cider will be included.

Call 231-995-0500
to reserve your ticket for this event. $35 per person

You will not want to miss this tasty event!

*Loose (adj.)\LUS: (1) not rigidly fastened; (2) not tense, informal;
(3) an Italian convention describing wine sold direct from tank.

By |2010-01-27T15:37:37+00:00January 27th, 2010|Events, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

TripAdvisor Ranks Traverse City in Top 10 Wine Destinations

chateau chantal grapes in autumnMichigan wineries make the grade with TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor announced it’s list of the Top 10 North American Wine Destinations, and Traverse City was among them. Taking the top two positions were Napa Valley and Sonoma, California, no surprise there. But coming in a respectable 8th was Traverse City, Michigan.

According to a survey of 1000 online respondants, interest in wineries is up 10 percent from last year with 48% planning a trip to a U.S. winery this year.

By |2009-09-25T12:58:05+00:00September 25th, 2009|Check This Out, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Traverse City Wine & Art Festival

Traverse City Wine & Art Festival

First annual Traverse City Wine & Art Festival at The Village

 

After years of watching the wine festivals in Leland and Northport swell to numbers that can barely be contained by the tents overhead, there is finally a festival right here in Traverse City. Saturday, August 22nd the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival will be held on the grounds outside Building 50 at The Village.

The festival features wines from 22 area wineries, from both Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. And unlike other wine festivals, which operate primarily as tasting events, attendees will receive 2 full glass pours with the $20 ticket. Additional drink tickets are available for $4.

 

The event also includes a juried art show, live music from Thom Jayne and the Nomads, as well as food from Underground Cheesecake, Bourbon 72, Silvertree Deli and Maybings.

 

Tickets are $20 and are available through participating wineries or purchase online through the LPVA. For more details about the festival visit their website at www.traversecitywinefestival.com.

 

Why Ice Wine is Divine

frozen grapes for ice wine at Black Star FarmsWhen the Temperatures Drop our Spirits Rise in Northern Michigan Wine Country.

Germany is known for their Eiswein, and so is Canada. But did you know that Michigan has been turning frozen grapes into liquid luxury since 1983? When you learn a bit about the process you’ll understand why ice wine is worth it’s weight in gold.

A true ice wine is made from grapes left on the vine until harvest and pressed while frozen. Each year winemakers must decide whether or not to gamble on producing an ice wine. Growers take quite a risk leaving grapes on the vine after the fall harvest. It’s not only a risk to the crop but to the vine itself. According to Chris Lopez of Black Star Farms, grapes left to ripen past harvest require so much energy from the vine and the roots which sustain it, that it can cause a smaller harvest in subsequent years or possible loss of the vine itself.

 

Black Star Farms ice wine harvestOnce the decision is made, winemakers must wait for ideal conditions to harvest ice wine grapes. According to Lee Lutes, winemaker for Black Star Farms, the temperatures must hold below 17˙F for three consecutive days. The calls go out at 2am for the dedicated staff and friends to join the harvest among the vines before dawn. With fluctuating temperatures in early December this year’s harvest began on December 8th and resumed on December 16th; a clear example of the importance of the harvest temperature.

Upon picking the grapes are as hard as marbles. They are brought to the winery and pressed outside in old-fashioned wooden basket presses. The frozen block takes days to squeeze a thicky syrupy liquid as each grape will yield not much more than a drop. The frozen block is then painstakingly removed from the basket by hand.

 

Black Star Farms A Capella ice wineThis year Black Star Farms harvested 6000 pounds of ice wine grapes, which produced 125 gallons of juice, or roughly 110 cases of ice wine. That may sound like a lot, but it’s actually only 25% of a normal yield. In other words, had those same grapes been picked in the fall they would have produced 500 gallons of juice. When you factor in the potential loss of grapes, the perfect conditions required for harvest and the additional labor, it’s easy to see why ice wines are so valuable, or as some might say, expensive. But once you’ve had a sip of this deliciously sweet nectar from the vine you’ll know it’s also worth every cent.

Black Star Farms A Capella ice wine has taken taken several medals and has been served in presidential dinners hosted at The White House. Ice wines are fantastic when aged, even 20 years or more. For Lee Lutes the ability to age an ice wine makes it that much more valuable. His 2002 vintage, an especially prosperous harvest for local ice wine, is one he’s saving to share with his daughter as they share the same birth year.

Click here to check out this video of the 2007 Ice Wine harvest at Black Star Farms, produced in conjunction with Absolute Michigan.

 

ice wine grapes in press at Forty-Five NorthAnother local winemaker experimenting with ice wine production is Shawn Walters of Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery. Their vineyard is very young, and not currently producing enough fruit to offer a true ice wine. They are however creating an Icebox wine. So what’s the difference? An icebox wine, or Vin de Glaciere, is wine made from grapes frozen in an icebox, rather than naturally on the vine. This style eliminates the risk of crop loss, allows for production not dependent on the weather and therefore costs much less. A bottle of Forty-Five North Icebox Pinot Gris sells for $45 for 375ml, as compared to $60-$90 for naturally produced ice wines. There’s much debate as to whether or not the quality of the wine is better one way or another. But most will agree, it’s not Ice Wine unless it’s frozen on the vine.

 

Not to be left out in the cold, so to speak, winemaker Bryan Ulbrich of Left Foot Charley will produce a very limited supply of ice wine with a 2008 vintage. His Vidal Blanc Icewine, produced from a grape hybridized specifically for ice wine, came from the vineyards at the Gray Hare Inn. It took three days of pressing to produce 22 gallons of juice. He uses a small basket press, operated by hand-crank, "we walked around it like a bunch of mules," he joked. Talk about a labor of love. And if you think this year’s production of 20 cases is small, ask him how much he produced last year! When asked why he doesn’t use Riesling he said they just don’t have enough grapes to risk on ice wine. "Vidal Blanc was made for ice wine," he explained. I guess you can’t argue with that.

 

celebrating the ice wine harvestThe 2008 harvest looks promising on all accounts. Black Star Farms will release their ’08 A Capella in the spring. Forty-Five North is selling the last of the 2007 Icebox Pinot Gris, and will release a ’08 Icebox Riesling later this winter. The riesling, a bit of an experiment for Walters, is currently fermenting in French oak barrels, like a Chardonnay. He hopes this will impart a subtle vanilla with earthy undertones. Walters also produced a true ice wine for Longview Winery, Sweet Winter Ice, from the Cayuga grape. 

 

Check out our new Michigan Ice Wine photo gallery for more images from Forty-Five North and Longview Winery’s ice wine harvest.

 

Photos courtesy of Black Star Farms and Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery

For more information on the history of Michigan ice wines check out these links:

Detroit News – Record number of Michigan wineries make ice wine in 2002 vintage The Wine Report, January, 2003, by Sandra Silfven 

FindArticles – Michigan ice wine rises when mercury falls Wines & Vines, July, 2006, by Todd Spencer

By |2009-01-06T19:56:47+00:00January 6th, 2009|Attractions, Leelanau, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

Top 5 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in Traverse City

 A Little Rain Won’t Dampen Your Fun in Traverse City

I know the last thing you want to see on vacation is rain. But before you reach for the TV remote take a few moments to consider the great opportunities waiting indoors at some of Traverse City’s best destinations. Here’s a guide to some of my favorite rain or shine day trips.

Lightpaintings exhibit at Dennos Museum Center1. Visit Local Museums

Traverse City has a thriving culture of artists, musicians, and the patrons who support them. Whether you’ve always wanted to know more about Inuit Art, or have wondered what ever happened the original "model city", our local museums can show you.

The Dennos Museum Center on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College invites you to "Come Alive Inside!" They have several gallery exhibitions featuring fine art, science and the performing arts. Kids will love the Discovery Gallery with it’s hands-on exhibits. You’ll also find one of the largest and most historically complete collections of Inuit art.

For the lovers of history and music, you must check out one of Traverse City’s most unique museums. The Music House Museum, located just outside Traverse City on US 31 North in Acme, is a one-of-a-kind collection of music making machines from 1870 – 1930. To see an antique Nickelodeon or a phonograph is a treat, but to experience the music of these historical pieces is a memorable visit indeed. On the one-hour musical tour you’ll see the 1924 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, rescued from the Cinderella Theater in Detroit, and the impressive 1922 Mortier Dance Organ from Belgium.

If you have young children to entertain I’d recommend the Great Lake Children’s Musuem. Their new location across from West Bay on M-22 has wonderful interactive exhibits for the young and curious. The museum teaches children about the Great Lakes through hands-on activities and water-themed play areas. Their giftshop is also a great place to pick-up learning based toys and books.

 

2. Tour the Wineries

Black Star Farms winery on Old Mission peninsulaTraverse City, and the peninsulas which surround it, are making a name for themselves in the wine industry. We share the same latitude as several famous wine-making regions in Europe. The bays that surround us help cultivate some of the best grape growing regions in our country. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself how wonderful Traverse City wines can be.

The Old Mission peninsula is home to seven distinct wineries and counting. From small tasting rooms to expansive estates, there are many tasty stops along the wine trail. The first of which is Black Star Farms Old Mission tasting room. Some of you may know of their expansive agriculinary destination near Suttons Bay, but Black Star Farms is making fabulous wines from Old Mission vineyards as well. Their tasting room, on McKinley Rd, is the only place you’ll be able to taste some of their vintages, including 2007 Arcturos Pinot Noir Rose as it can only be sold on Old Mission Peninsula.

Just up the road you’ll find Peninsula Cellars in the little red schoolhouse along M-37. This tiny tasting room has refined big flavors into some award-winning wines including the region’s only white cherry wine. Peninsula Cellars is owned and operated by the Kroupa family, who also grow much of the fruit used in their production.

There are several other wineries on Old Mission peninsula well worth your attention including our well known Chateau Grand Traverse, and the estates of Chateau Chantal. However I’d be remiss if I didn’t send you back into the heart of the city to Left Foot Charley. Located in The Village, Traverse City’s own Central Park. The former Northern Michigan Asylum is home to a bevy of food artisans, shops and businesses including the area’s only urban winery. If you’re lucky you might catch wine-maker Brian Ulbrich behind the bar where he’s likely to serve a little wit along with his latest vintage.

 

3.  Play Ball!

golf simulator at the Traverse City Golf CenterIf you’re stuck in with a rain delay at the Traverse City Beach Bums baseball game don’t despair. I have some great ideas for the sports fans too. Whether you’re a bowler, a golfer, or prefer your sports with a comfy seat and a refreshing beverage, you can satisfy your athletic nature in Traverse City no matter the weather.

Just a few miles from the Beach Bums stadium, on the other side of Chums Corners you’ll find one of the the area’s newest and most entertaining venues. Wilderness Crossings sits back from the road just off US-31. This is family entertainment at it’s finest. The kids will love the arcade games, laser tag and cosmic golf course. Mom and dad, you can kick back in the sports bar or enjoy a meal in the Wild Pony Saloon. When you’re all back together don’t forget to slip on some bowling shoes for a game or two. And the best part is, the entire 34,000 sq. ft. facility is smoke free.

Golfers, if a downpour on the course sent you back to the clubhouse, I’ve got just the place for you. The Traverse City Golf Center on Secor road, near Boones Long Lake Inn, has everything you need keep your head in the game. From their extensive indoor pro shop with PING fitting center, to the indoor chipping stations and putting green, there’s more here than meets the eye. Ever wanted to play with the pros at Pebble Beach? Well step up to their golf simulator and you’ll get the chance. If the weather improves, be sure to step outside to test your shot on the driving range or improve your skills in their sand trap.

 

A barrel of popcorn at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In4.  Celebrate Movie Magic

There’s been much ado about the movie industry coming to Traverse City, and rightfully so. We have so much to offer movie fans and movie makers alike. From art films in an historic theater to classic family entertainment, a movie is a great way to save a rainy day.

The renovation of downtown Traverse City’s State Theatre brought our community together in support a common goal. Michael Moore helped establish the area’s first Film Festival which put Traverse City on the map for cinephile’s everywhere. Become a Friend of the Festival and get a sneak peak at the upcoming films, as well as first shot at tickets. But you don’t have to wait for the Film Festival to enjoy a movie at the State. The marquee lights up every night with their feature presentation.

If casual family fun is more your style then you don’t want to miss stepping back in time at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre. Rain or shine dusk is the time. That’s their motto. I admit, it’s great fun to bring your chairs, pop the tailgate and enjoy the movie magic pouring from the original post-mounted speakers. But don’t let a little rain stop you. Tune your car stereo to their FM channel and enjoy the movie with windows closed, fresh barrel of popcorn in your lap and the big screen just outside. What better way to enjoy some classic americana.

 

The Radish restaurant in Olde Town Traverse City5.  Focus on Food

If you need an excuse to get out and sample the flavors of Traverse City I suppose a rainy day is as good an excuse as any. Personally I don’t need much encouragement. In all honesty I couldn’t possibly highlight all our great food options in one short list. Instead I hope to send you on a foodie excursion, where you just might pick up a few new favorites to share.

If you’re in Olde Town Traverse City there’s a new twist on fast food you’re going to enjoy. In fact, it’s fast food with no guilt, no grease, and no regrets. The Radish focuses on fresh ingredients with a 60+ item salad bar. No more, "hold the onion," or, "dressing on the side," you make just the way you like it. You can’t argue with that logic. 

Downtown Traverse City is a great destination it’s own rite, with countless restaurants, eateries, brew pubs to explore. But let’s not forget the retail outlets that offer fantastic edibles as well. A couple of my favorites include Fustini’s, where you taste and enjoy olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The Cherry Stop is the only place to go for anything cherry. And if time allows I have to endulge in some gelato at American Spoon Foods.

My tour du jour wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some off-the-beaten path restaurants that spring to mind when family and friends come to town. For a fabulous view of West Grand Traverse Bay you can’t beat Scott’s Harbor Grill. Even in the rain you can enjoy the boats in the harbor from a window-side table. Everyone loves a good italian restaurant and my family is taken with Chef Mickey Cannon at the Tuscan Bistro. But if your trip takes you along the Old Mission peninsula I’d recommend the Old Mission Tavern. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s a top-notch white-tablecloth restaurant with a beautiful gallery to browse while you wait.

 

So next time you find yourself pulling out the umbrella with a sigh, just remember Traverse City is full of great ways to keep the whole family happy on a rainy day, or anytime for that matter.

 

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