Tag Archives: Michigan Wine

April Is Michigan Wine Month

There are no excuses left; you should try Michigan wines. Do the French and Italians make wonderful wines? Yes. Is California the American leader in acclaim and production of wine? Yup. However, whether or not you live in the Mitten, were born in the D, or just pop in for Big 3 business, you should drink Michigan. With a rate of wine grape growth that has more than doubled in the last decade as well as over 100 wineries, Michigan offers more than enough wines to please the palate of any wine lover.

Contributing $800 million to the Michigan economy each year, not to mention the perks of bustling tourism, Michigan wineries have proven that our Great Lakes state has more to offer than a bowlful of cherries. Governor Snyder has declared April Michigan Wine Month, and many of the winemakers and local restaurants have collaborated for wine events throughout the Metro Detroit area. This is the perfect time to taste what Michigan has to offer. The Michigan Wine Showcase at the Rattlesnake Club on April 15 is a don’t-miss event. This is the event’s fourth year running, and it will bring in over 25 different wineries from all over the state. If you’ve ever wondered about making your own wine in Michigan, this is your chance to ask winemakers how they deal with our tricky climate. World-renowned wine experts and Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madiline Triffon host.

Think all Michigan has to offer is sweet? Yes, Riesling is king in Michigan, making up over half of the wine grapes grown. It makes sense, seeing that we are on the same parallel as wine-growing regions of Germany. However, like the Germans, many Michigan wine makers pride themselves on their ability to make bone dry but balanced Rieslings as well as their sticky, sweet dessert wines. Also, flavorful, dry red wines like Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc are making waves while racy Pinot Gris and elegant Chardonnays are winning awards and the hearts of consumers. Just starting to try wine? Try some of the softer, fruitier reds, such as Concord, Marechal Foch, and Chambourcin, that are capitalizing on the surge of sweet red wine drinkers. On the first of April, Mawby released a dry, red sparkling wine called Redd (made in part from Marechal Foch) to kick off Michigan Wine Month, and I can’t wait to try it!

It’s easy to love Michigan, with its beautiful landscapes, fun and exciting water sports, and amazing musical history. When making your travel plans this year, why not add a stop at a picturesque winery? The views and wines are breathtaking.

Some of my favorite wineries to visit include Mawby Vineyards, Shady Lane, 2 Lads, Left Foot Charlie and Chateau Chantal.

What are yours? Share with me in the comments below!

Michigan Wines

Smitten With the Mitten!


So you all know I’m a fan of Oregon wines now, but what about supporting our own home state? Which Mitten wines have made me smitten? Well, I was recently asked to do a Michigan wine tasting for the wives of the Senior PGA tour, showcasing which foods pair best with our wines. After much deliberation, these are my selections as the best of what Michigan wines have to offer:

Detroit Demi-Sec

Larry Mawby of Mawby Cellars on the Leelanau Peninsula is one of Michigan’s founding fathers. Since the first crush in 1978, he has been making estate grown and bottled wines. Sparkling wine soon became Larry’s forte, and we are all better for it! With names like Sex, Us, Wet, and Detroit, these sparklers jump off the shelf. It’s Larry’s attention to detail and TLC that keeps people coming back.
M. Lawrence
Detroit Demi-Sec
Sparkling Wine, Leelanau Peninsula, $14.99

Soft and lush, with creamy bubbles. The Muscat gives Detroit a lovely sweetness with a zippy, clean finish.

Ship of Fools

The first to grow Vitis vinifera exclusively in Michigan in 1974, Ed O’Keefe believed that the Old Mission Peninsula was the perfect place to grow cool climate grapes, such as Riesling, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc and Pinot noir. Years later, he and his family run Northern Michigan’s largest and oldest commercial winery and vineyard operation. Though they are world renowned for their Riesling, I chose my favorite, the Ship of Fools Pinot Blend because it is so very unique and true to Michigan’s terroir.

Chateau Grand Traverse
Ship of Fools
White Blend 2010 – $14.99

Crisp, clean and refreshing, this trio of Pinot Blanc, Gris, and Noir utilizes the best in each grape: Blanc for finesse, Gris for structure and Noir for bouquet and ageability. Citrus and tropical fruit flavors round out the finish.

Late Harvest

Having a keen eye for potential, Kerm Campbell and Donald Coe jumped at the opportunity to buy the palatial Sport Valley Farm in 1997. The farm included riding stables, an extravagant estate house and barns, not to mention the perfect topography and terroir for a vineyard! Over the years, they have cultivated two vineyard sights and multiple tasting rooms, becoming an award-winning establishment. Their Late Harvest Riesling is one of my top-selling Michigan wines because it has a generous amount of sweetness but is very well balanced.

Black Star Farms
Late Harvest
Riesling 2010 – $18.99

Riesling is what Michigan is known for, and this little star is one of the reasons! Honeysuckle and white peach on the nose and palate, the texture is creamy, but the finish has nice acidity.

Pinot Noir

After a few years of growing cherries, Traverse City’s main fruit, Neurosurgeon Joseph O’Donnell caught wind of the emerging wine industry and began research with Michigan State to see whether his cherry orchard would be better suited as a vineyard. The results came back that indeed wine grapes would do well here. He enlisted the help of Michigan wine pioneer Larry Mawby to help him produce Pinot noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines. Though they still make some tasty sparkling wines, their Rieslings are what they are known for. Winemaker Adam Satchwell, who has a wine résumé that resembles the very history of wine itself, has made it his goal to capture the essence of and teach about the terroir of Michigan. I believe he has done just that with their Pinot noir.

Shady Lane Cellars
Pinot Noir 2010 – $21.99

The Shady Lane Pinot noir has cherry and baking spice on the nose, with loads of ripe red fruits on the palate and a long, dry finish.

Rooted in the tradition of Michigan wines and looking towards the future, Fenn Valley grows both the French American hybrids that first put Michigan wines on the map and the vinifera the new generation has had so much success with. A good example of this is the Capriccio, a fun, full, fruity wine that combines the old world wines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with the new world hybrid grape Chambourcin.

Fenn Valley
Dry Red Wine – $11.99

Soft and rich, the Capriccio is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin. Black cherry and blackberry abound, with a smooth finish that makes this wine terrific for red-sauced dishes. On a hot summer’s day, this wine is great for Sangria!

Last but never least, we have Chateau Chantal. Quite possibly the most beautiful winery in Michigan, its tasting room has a panoramic view of the vineyard and both the East and West Grand Traverse Bay. Although I have always been impressed by its wines, I chose the Chantal Cerise Port-Style Cherry Wine. You can’t showcase Michigan wines without having at least one cherry wine! This wine is dessert in a bottle and embodies Michigan’s winemaking along with our burgeoning spirits industry.

Chateau Chantal Cerise
Cherry Port – $29.99

Michigan cherry wine and cherry brandy blended together for a sinfully good dessert wine! Opulent and packed with black and red cherry flavors, this port-style wine calls for decadent chocolate!

Michigan has become one of the top-ten wine-producing states in the nation, and our winemakers are internationally recognized as some of the best. These six wines are just a sample of the 85 different wineries that Michigan has to offer. Some of my other favorites are 2 Lads, Brys, Left Foot Charlie and 45 North. Several of the best wineries have such small productions that they cannot be sold down state, so you will just have to explore our beautiful state and its many terrific wineries!

Next time someone asks, “Yeah, but are Michigan wines really any good?” You can wholeheartedly say, “Yes!”


– Jennifer Laurie