Saturday, August 25, 2007

Traverse City Wineries

This area of Michigan - Leelanau County and Old Mission Harbor - has a number of wineries. This is another aspect of the trip that Bernie was particularly excited about, as she is really trying to focus on local foods (and her definition of local is a little more liberal than the "250-mile rule" - she includes the entire states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana).

We've been lucky enough to visit three of the wineries and have tasted a few additional ones. We have enjoyed the wines from the area that we've had. Oh, we're not wine experts. Despite that wine class that Bernie took, she still tends to rate wines based on how enjoyable they'd be if being sipped on Meridian's aft deck. (Guess that's why she got a "B" ;o !) The wines tend to be sweeter and more fruity than French, California, etc. wine. They are more likely to be varietals (blends of grapes). And they tend to focus on white wines as the white grapes are easier to grow here. One of the wineries noted that this is the same latitude (45 degrees, give or take a bit) as the French wine regions.

Good Harbor Winery is near Leland. Among other wines, they have Good Harbor Red and Fishtown White table wines.

Left Foot Charley calls themselves an "urban winery" in Traverse City. They don't have a vineyard. Instead, they purchase grapes from smaller (less than 6 acres) local grape growers. The founder has significant experience, having worked for a few of the wineries in the area. They located their tasting room in The Village (that North Michigan Asylum redevelopment project we mentioned earlier.)

Black Star Farms is a Winery/Creamery/Distillery/Inn that is located about 15 miles from Traverse City. We biked over there via the TART and Leelanau trails. They have a beautiful location and are an "agricultural destination". That's netting over their vines to keep the birds away.
For $5 per couple, you can get five wine tastes per person and you get to keep the glasses. So we tasted a few wines and found two that we both really liked - a reisling and an artisan red. We had brought extra clothes, partially for the purpose of cushioning bottles, which worked very well. They also make additional spirits (grappa, eau de vie), that they keep hidden away. Look closely to see the vicious guard dog protecting the hideaway.

They also have a creamery, and are award winners for a raclette cheese that they produce.
We believe that Phil's new friend is the source of the award-winning cheese.

And they, too, had a farmers market/co-op venture going on at the time of our visit. Three farmers markets in two days PLUS a wine-tasting - does life get any better than that?

Although we didn't get to visit this one, Chateau Grand Traverse has a white wine with a name that's perfect for us: Ship of Fools!

There are a few more wineries up here but we weren't able to get to them all. We're thinking about coming up here in the fall (after Meridian is in storage ... when we're condo-bound and stir-crazy again) to do more on-site research about Michigan wines.

Almost all the wineries can ship to Illinois as long as you can fax or e-mail them a copy of your ID so they verify that you are over 21. So - fair warning - Bernie will be primarily serving Michigan wine in the future. At least until she gets to do on-site research into the Illinois wineries.

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