The COVID-19 crisis has hit Michigan particularly hard, with the entire state shut down for over 2 months. We are finally at the stage of reopening for portions that have an overall lower infection rate.
Starting at midnight on May 22 the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Michigan will be reopened to 50% capacity in bars and restaurants. This means that tasting rooms may start opening up this weekend.
Please be careful out there and remember to practice social distancing and patience when tasting. After you leave the tasting room use hand sanitizer before venturing on to the next destination.
Stay safe, be well and as always drink responsibly!
~Michigan Wine Guy
A Note From Your Michigan Wine Guy
2015 Marsanne from Domaine Berrien Cellars
This wine was purchased in 2018, we did not have it until March 2019 and the aging showed on this 2015 vintage. It was very delicious, however, we did not have it with the recommended pairings of lobster, shellfish or BBQ pork chops.
Some background on Marsanne: Marsanne is originally from the Rhone River Valley in France. It makes a full-bodied dry white wine that is loaded with intense, mouth-filling fruit flavors. While drinking this wine I suggest chilling to bring out a crisp finish.
I am not certain if you can still purchase this vintage but the years ahead have produced some great vintages as well, with the Lake Michigan Shore climate. It would be worth a call to Domaine Berrien Cellars to inquire about their vintage selections available from 2015. Maybe, you'll be lucky!
Background on Domaine Berrien Cellars, they are located in a favorable part of the Lake Michigan Shore Viticultural Area, their vineyard is situated on one of the highest elevations in Berrien County. The elevation and the prevailing breezes from nearby Lake Michigan make it a relatively frost-free site for three seasons. The large body of water moderates their climate, which allows them to ripen many different grape varietals. The sandy gravel loam soils are among the best for horticulture, helping them produce high-quality red and white wine. (From the bottle).
If you are out and about in Southwest, Michigan and tasting at their winery, you'll find Lemon Creek Winery right across the street, and Baroda Founders Cellars near by in downtown Baroda, along with more wineries if you travel a short way down the road. Mention that you read about their wines from my blog so I can continue to grow my partnerships!
Mark's Top Wine Pick Of The Week August 3, 2018 - Cote D' Loma from Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery
Yup, yet another Karma Vista wine! "Cote D' Loma" named after the location where the grape is grown in Coloma, MI. This red wine is a little Merlot, a little Noiret. "Cote" is French for hill. Their Merlot vineyard on the Ryno Road hill and the Noiret is on Hill Road just south of the winery. "The Hills of Coloma" is a versatile everyday wine. Chill slightly for a great summertime red with lunch or dinner. Lots of cherry notes from the Merlot with a little black pepper from the Noiret.
This wine is probably the closest you'll get to a similar "Cote D'" any place in France. The versatility of this wine will make it go very well with almost any meal. I love this wine and it is a great new addition to Karma Vista's wine selection. At $16 a bottle it surely peaks the appeal of budget conscious wine drinkers.
You can order this wine from the winery or visit the tasting room in person to experience the beautiful vineyard, amazing wine and the wonderful staff! I love talking grape growing with the owners there because they teach me things that I didn't even know. It's well worth a visit! Tell them that I sent you, they should know me by now. I am only there about 4 times a year. We absolutely recommend Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery to anyone. It is so easy to get to from I-94, right off of the exit take a right onto Ryno Road and go up the hill. Make a day of it there are so many different wineries in the area so you can taste all day if you want.
Let me know what you think about "Cote D' Loma." A delicious red for any occasion.
Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week July 20, 2018 - 2017 Riesling from Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery
If you can't tell by now, Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery is one of my favorite wineries. A delicious new release from 2017 is the Riesling, that is crisp and light. The other qualities of this young Riesling are semi-dry, wonderful crisp white. A classic European variety with the right balance of sweetness and acidity incredible aroma with flavors of pear and tart apple. Their best Riesling yet!
This Riesling is extremely popular and the closer it gets to fall the less and less bottles there will be available. With a price point of $14, this is a gem! This wine pairs perfectly with that summer boating trip, picnic or romantic sunset excursion. For food it'll go perfectly with spicy dishes, the crispness will help reduce the heat and complement all the flavors of the complex ingredients in the dish.
You can order this wine from the Karma Vista Vineyards & Winery or go visit the tasting room in person! This fantastic wine will not disappoint.
45 North Vineyards & Winery
We revisited 45 North Vineyard & Winery on July 1, it was about the same as the first time we visited. However, this time we had my wife's sister along with us. Introducing Michigan wine to someone new is always a fun thing and also my mission in life.
This winery is situated on the 45th North Parallel, which is 45º North of the Equator, halfway to the North Pole. Also that 45 degree line is where some of the most prestigious wine making regions of the world are located. So there is no doubt that you will be drinking quality wine here. Navigation has gone the wayside of mere coordinate positioning using North, South, East and West, to now where we have addresses that we can plug into Google Maps and get precise directions to our destinations.
45 North Vineyard & Winery is located at 8980 E. Horn Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653 a wonderful place with rolling vineyards and tons of space for weddings and other events like "Yoga in the vineyard." The Leelanau Peninsula in general is a prime growing region, but some grapes have held up tremendously, for example: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Franc to name a few.
There is a big outdoor patio area for sipping wine and enjoying the scenery. Inside you have a large tasting bar, you can sample 5 wines. Their wine list is quite enormous but they have a big selection of dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet wine to sample. So everyone's individual palate can be pleasured to contentment. Why don't we get into the wine, the best part of course!
2016 Reserve Chardonnay: Vanilla and coconut with layers of butter and sweet oak on the nose. The coconut persists on the palate with caramel apple, soft buttery tannins and a bright acidity on the finish. Pair this wine with buttery seafood dishes, grilled salmon and semi soft cheeses.
2016 Dry Riesling: Lime peels and green apple with hints of honeycomb on the nose. The citrus continues on the palate with a light mid-palate that also has a density to it. The finish is long and the acid balance is mouth-watering. Get International with this wine/food pairing. Riesling is very versatile and can show well with a host of food options. Spicy fare is a go-to but don’t stop there. Oysters, grilled fish, fowl or vegetables will pair nicely as well. Experiment with a cheese party to see the reaction of sheep, cow and goat varieties.
2016 Unwooded Chardonnay: Dried tropical fruits, ripe pineapple and a slight lemon on the nose. The tropical profile continues on the palate with a juicy middle, finishing with a fruit-filled linger. Pair with chicken, semi-soft cheese, roasted vegetables.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc: At first the jalapeno and herbs are dominant on the nose but give way to gooseberry and a host of citrus and...melon? The oak is present and will continue to evolve on the mid palate for the next several months. Go Green with foods, herbs and spices with grilled lake fare. Grab some eggs and asparagus and whip up a nice hollandaise for some brunch as well.
2015 Pinot Gris: This wine was split three ways and fermented separately in stainless steel, neutral oak, and their concrete egg, then blended post-fermentation. Aromatic lilies and figs wrapped in a layer of wet stone on the nose work well with the soft mouth feel and fruit flavors. Pair with roasted fowl or pork seasoned with spices like saffron, clove, or allspice.
2016 Reserve Pinot Gris: The barrel and concrete work together to create a softer and more rounded mouth feel, while the acid keeps it bright and crisp. You'll pick up more minerality and stone qualities in this wine, along with more luscious fruit flavors like peach with a side of apple. This one is more of an enjoyable sipper.
2016 Reserve Riesling: 50% Steel aged and 50% Neutral oak aged. This Riesling is dry, however it gushes with intense flavors of peach, mango, and ripe tropical juiciness. Being partially (and delicately) barrel aged, it has a softer mouth feel, and the oak doesn't hit you, it kisses you. This quickly became a staff favorite and is highly recommended.
2016 Marsanne: Very tropical. Melons and pears are lightly outlined in banana aromas with almond undertones on the nose. The mouthfeel is lush with ripe fruit balanced with round tannins and a lingering finish. Pair with semi-soft cheese or lighter grilled meats like pork, chicken or lobster.
2016 45 White: Melon, pineapple, white flowers and preserved lemons on the nose. The melon persists with more floral notes on the palate and a nice weight. There is a balanced mouthfeel that makes this wine great for food pairing or just chatting with a friend. The fruit forwardness of this wine makes it perfect for appetizers.
2016 Chenin Blanc: Candied mango, papaya, peaches and ripe melon on the nose. Lush fruit on the palate with a full mouthfeel that lingers fruit on the finish. The soft acid carries the fruit through the finish. Pair this wine with summer fare such as grilled fish or pork, goat cheese, roasted corn and flavors of cilantro, ginger or dill.
2016 Select Harvest Riesling: Fairly tropical nose and flavors of soft lychee fruit and peach. Slightly floral but sweet with a clean finish.
2016 Rosé Cabernet Franc: Raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant with vanilla cream are all supported aromatically by subtle violets. The red fruit persists on the palate with a subtle tannin outline, and beautiful acidity on the finish.
2016 Red Barn Red: Merlot & Lemberger. Spicy oak, ripe berries, cocoa and a hint of leather on the nose. Sweet, dark fruits on the palate round out the tannins and allow the wine to finish long, like a dry red would. It is sweet enough for the "sweet red" drinker while being approachable to the "I only drink red wine" crowd. Pair with roasted dishes of any type. It will be great with meat, fowl, or roasted veggies. Enjoy with friends!
Sparkling Peach: A delicious, bubbly blend of 25% cold-pressed Leelanau peaches and 75% white wine blend. The perfect beach, boat, or deck wine!
Sparkling Strawberry: 50% Frontenac Gris and 50% Fermented Strawberry juice. Yum! Who wouldn't love this wine?
2013 Ice Wine Riesling: December 10, 2013 · Before sunrise could offer even a glimmer of warmth, they bundled up and headed out on this blustery 9º morning to harvest the frozen grapes. Immediately they pressed them, expelling the liquid nectar that was gradually cool-fermented to retain the succulent flavors of peaches, apricots, and pears. A quick stay in oak rounds it out with a kiss of vanilla on the finish. Delicious!
Cherry Dessert: Enjoy this fortified cherry wine as a dessert on its own, or with dark chocolate. Barrel aged for 6 months to help round out the tartness, and add more mouth feel.
Yes they have wine but they also carry hard cider for those non-wine drinkers in your life!
Hard Cider: Made with fresh-pressed organic antique apple varieties and fermented to dryness. Some juice is added back to give this cider just the right amount of sweetness.
Fresh Coast: Dry Cider: This cider is dry, full, and round on the palate with a refreshing, crisp finish.
Singletrack: Citra-Hopped Cider: This cider is dry-hopped for bright, IPA-like aromas and a delicious dry cider taste.
Oakayzie: Barrel-Aged Cider: This cider is aged in oak barrels for subtle notes of oak and the full flavors of aged apple.
45 RPM: Semi-Sweet Cider: This cider is lush with a sweet finish to balance a natural acidity, suitable for all cider drinkers.
(All descriptions are brought to you by 45 North's Website). I also added some comments as well for those wines that I thoroughly enjoyed!
Reading down this list you ask me, where can I buy these wines? You can order from the winery's website or I'm sure if you ask your local wine shop, the person in charge of ordering will probably love to carry their wine. Price points are higher than other wineries in the area, but you know you are getting quality wine and that is enough to make the prices higher. However, any selection from here is a great decision. Stick to what you like or try something new, it's all up to you.
If you are looking for a cool, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole stop for amazing world-class wine then 45 North Vineyard & Winery is your spot!
Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week June 22, 2018 - Capriccio from Fenn Valley Vineyards
"Capriccio" from Fenn Valley Vineyards is a delicious aged red wine that I tried at the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival. This wine was my favorite out of all of the wines I tasted that day. It had the perfect balance and I've actually purchased a bottle of this wine from my local Plum Market store before!
"Capriccio" is a big, soft red wine that shows the right balance between fruitiness and dryness. If you were to age a red wine this would be the end result, a big jammy berry fruit flavor with a subtle backbone of tannin. They have designed this wine so you do not have to wait five years to enjoy a great glass of red wine. Serve this wine with chicken, red meats, or pasta for the best experience.
I did not think that this wine would be good in the hot temperatures at the wine fest, but it hit the spot and pleasantly surprised my palate! You can order this wine on the Fenn Valley Vineyards website or ask your local wine shop if they can order it for you. At $12 a bottle, you can get a high quality red wine, compared to an aged red from another region that may cost you $20 or more.
This wine will be a great hit at any special occasion! So pour yourself a glass and toast to good times and Michigan wine coming in for the win! Cheers and as always enjoy responsibly.
Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival 2018 Recap!
Fresh back from the 13th annual Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival at the Warren Dunes State Park in Southwest Michigan. It being my first wine fest, I didn't know exactly what to expect. Arriving in the early afternoon we were in a line up of cars three rows wide with license plates mostly from Indiana surprisingly enough. After about 20 minutes in line we checked in and drove up to the main parking lot in-between the dunes and beach. It was around 88 degrees with a UV index of 9 out of 10 at the dunes. We decided to walk down to the water before heading over to the will call tent.
Knowing we were hungry we stopped at one of the food trucks to grab a quesadilla and water to fill our bellies before sampling wine. It is important to have food in your stomach, especially when sampling different styles of wine.
Approaching the huge wine tent we had to pick up our wristbands and wine glasses from the will call tent and purchase tickets for samples. I was surprised that most of the tastes were two tickets compared to one. One ticket is $1 so that means most of the samples were $2. Some of the wineries have the samples based on popularity and quality. You can get a glass full of wine, beer or cider for 6 to 10 tickets.
There were a few other vendors in the roped off section that had different dips, chocolate, other products and wine slushies! Unfortunately by the time we arrived they were all out of the wine slushies.
We wanted to taste wine from wineries and vineyards we have not had time to visit when traveling through Michigan. These included Gravity, Fenn Valley, Cogdal, Contessa, and Vintner's. It was almost too hot to try the red wine, but some of them were actually quite light and surprisingly went well with the hot conditions. After almost getting overheated in the tent we ventured out to regroup.
After comparing the wines we sampled, we decided to sample some more wine from places we have been to use the rest of our tickets. Hitting Round Barn, Fenn Valley again, Baroda Founders and 12 Corners, we were all out! It was a fun experience, but very loud, me being a quiet guy made it hard for the pourers to hear me and all of the noise from other people and the live music made it hard for me to hear what they were saying. Also, you couldn't really get a good look at the bottle you were tasting, the pace was much faster than when you would be tasting at the winery itself. The pace was really fast so it was hard for me to actually remember what wine I had tried.
However, being my first Lake Michigan Shore Wine Fest, I had a great time! The weather was hot and sunny, the best kind of weather and everyone seemed to be having a great time! I mean who isn't in a great mood when there is great Michigan wine for them to try? I really liked the Warren Dunes location and I hope it stays there. The Warren Dunes brings back memories from when I was a kid running up and down the sand dunes all the way to the water and back!
Now we can enjoy great wine and fun each year at the dunes! Be on the lookout for my favorite wine from the wine fest on "Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week" this Friday. Keep on enjoying that Michigan wine! Yum and cheers!
Mark's Top Wine Pick of the Week June 15, 2018 - Ruby Rosé from Lemon Creek Winery
Who doesn't love a good semi-sweet rosé? Ruby Rosé is just that a sweet, rich, deep-colored wine with luscious grape and raspberry flavors. Serve this wine chilled before, during, or after dinner. Great for the beach, boat, park or lake! Pairs well with anything, but we had it with chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. It complimented everything very well.
Ruby Rosé from Lemon Creek Winery is the sweeter of the two rosés they carry. The dry rosé is called Compass Rosé. You can purchase the Ruby Rosé for $9 from the winery. You may need to ask your local wine shop to order this wine for you if you want it in your area. However, the best way to experience this wine is to go to the winery in Berrien Springs or their tasting room in Grand Haven. While you are at the winery check out the Farm Market for fresh produce.
Grab a bottle of Ruby Rosé and enjoy the onset of summertime in Michigan!
Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival 2018 Is Coming!
On Saturday, June 16 at the Warren Dunes State Park located at 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125, right off of I-94, will be hosting the 13th annual Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival 2018. This is an awesome event with 20+ wineries, 5 food trucks, live music and of course the Warren Dunes and Lake Michigan as your backdrop. This is their first year for hosting the Wine Fest at the dunes because of the popularity in previous years the vendors needed a bigger spot to convene.
Nearby hotels are offering special rates for Wine Fest attendees along with shuttles back and forth from the festival. The festival itself is $10 in advance and $15 at the ticket window. Your ticket includes admission and a souvenir wine glass. Parking is free for anyone with a Michigan State Park Passport, attached to your license plate. If you do not have this pass they charge the regular park fee at the entrance per vehicle, so it is a good idea to carpool with friends or family.
As stated above, tickets are $15 at the event, and additional tickets need to be purchased for tastings usually 1 sample is 1 ticket, which equals $1. Now, sometimes the winery may charge you 2-5 tickets for one sample depending on how strong it is or if it cost more to make. Usually your Ice Wine, Ports, Sherries, liquors or hard to find wine take more than 1 ticket. There you have it 1 ticket equals $1. I suggest buying a lot of tickets! For more information go here!
Of course, as always pace yourself and drink responsibly. Festivities start at 1pm and last until 9pm or sunset, whichever happens first. The food trucks are there to help you sober up and tantalise your palate, along with the dunes and beach you can take a long hike and end up chillin' in the sand for a while or take a dip in the temperate blue waters of Lake Michigan. Make sure to bring lots of water to stay properly hydrated during this event. Temperatures will peak around 87 with the heat index reaching low to mid 90s. Also, with the sun out and almost directly overhead the UV index is going to be at a 9, which is very high, this means sunscreen is a must!
I hope to see you there on June 16!
You'll miss this winery if you are not careful. There are 3 other wineries very close to Chateau Fontaine and you can easily get confused on which drive you take. Located at 2290 S. French Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653 you'll arrive at this wood cabin tasting room. The vineyard is on site along with cherry trees for their fruit wines. This is a hidden gem of the Leelanau Peninsula.
This is definitely the winery to visit on a guided wine tour or if you find yourself in the Leelanau Peninsula area. Many of these start in Traverse City and follow a set route and arriving at the winery you'll feel like you are in an entirely different world. Tastings consist of 5 pours. They have a limited selection of wine, but some unique ones you may not see at other wineries near by.
Why don't we see what types of wine they have?
Pinot Noir: This fragrant red wine has a garnet hue and aromas of leather, cherry, and clove. Their vineyards are planted with several different clones of Pinot Noir, and the resulting wine is aged 10 months in French Oak to produce a wine with spice notes and flavor of black cherry and currant. Pair with braised meats, including rack of lamb or hearty salmon.
Woodland Red: The Woodland Red is a delectable red blend with the smooth taste of lush raspberry, blackberry, and black pepper accented with soft tannins. Made from a blend of Syrah, Merlot, and 40% each Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is the perfect steak pairing wine. Multi-gold award winner.
Big Paw Red: This hearty blend of reds utilizes three hybrid grapes to yield an easy-drinking table wine that is not too dry, but not too sweet. It is perfectly paired with spaghetti, pizza, and BBQ.
Chardonnay: A fruit-forward Chardonnay with luscious flavors of light citrus, ripe figs and spice. A rich, almost creamy texture accented by a light touch of grapefruit and crisp finish.
Pinot Gris: Crisp, clean flavors of apples and spice with hints of oak and vanilla, fragrance of wildflowers and freshly mowed hay, all rounded into a dry finish. Classic with local fish such as whitefish, light dishes and chicken.
Woodland White: Made with the obscure varietal Auxerrois, this wine starts with crisp apple on the palate, midway, Honeydew melon, and finishes of white peach. Pairs with seafood, shellfish or sushi.
Pinot Blanc: Michigan Wine Competition Best of Class for a dry white in 2012 and 2013. Crisp lemongrass and tropical flavors, with notes of banana, pineapple, and grapefruit.
Dry White Riesling: Delicious Riesling characteristics of pear and peach in a fully dry, traken style wine with a crisp bracing finish. These grapes are picked three weeks earlier than the Semi-Sweet Riesling. The Dry White Riesling from Chateau Fontaine recieved the John Rose Award for best Riesling in 2012 at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition; this award is given to the Riesling wine considered best in the world.
Gewurztraminer: A spicy, floral grape, this wine is a great pairing to your Thanksgiving dinner and works well with Pad Thai and Curry. Starts with a lovely rose petal nose, opening to apple, pear, peach and apricot on the palate, with spice notes of pepper, clove and black licorice.
Semi-Sweet White Riesling: Mother nature sweetens the grapes with an additional 3 weeks on the vine from when the dry Riesling grapes are picked. This wine is full and racy with apricots and peaches on the palate, flowery with haunting mineral in the background, delicate sweetness balanced with firm acidity creating a harmonious experience for the senses. The Semi-Sweet White Riesling won the John Rose Award at the International Finger Lakes Wine Competition in 2013 for Best Riesling.
Laughing Waters Dry Rosé: Ahh…Just imagine yourselves…A hot summer day, a few friends, and a picnic. Out for a cruise in a vintage wooden boat, cutting through the waves, making the water laugh! Enhance the experience with a bottle of this dry Rosé made with Pinot Noir grapes. Delightful notes of crisp strawberry, raspberry and cherry. Serve chilled, and enjoy!
Cherry Wine: Made from a blend of local tart and sweet cherries, they offer a truly rich, dark cherry wine that tantalize the senses with its natural cherry flavor. Hailed by many of their customers as their “favorite cherry wine” in Northern Michigan, it pairs perfectly with dark chocolate.
Cherryshine: Cherryshine is a port-style fortified cherry wine that makes a delicious after dinner liquor. Made using only fresh local cherries.
Viognier: An ancient grape varietal, Viognier was nearly extinct in 1965 when its production had dwindled to only 8 acres in Northern Rhone. Today it has garnered increased popularity around the world, producing a wine with a strong floral nose, and nice crisp fruit on the palate. Notes of peach, pear, and apple.
Grüner Veltliner: This wine is a relatively new varietal to Northern Michigan, which is primarily grown in Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. This varietal produces a food friendly wine with citrus and peach characteristics, as well as occasional spicy notes. One of the few wines that pairs with Asparagus. Very limited current production.
(Wine descriptions brought to you by Chateau Fontaine's website).
The wine from Chateau Fontaine cannot be found in stores, but you can order it from the winery directly. They will not ship out-of-state, however, the best way to get their wine is to visit the winery and indulge in the beauty of the great state of Michigan.
My wife and I stumbled upon this winery 2 years ago and are planning to go back on our next trip up north!