Eight Answers to Your Michigan Wine FAQs

Cheers! April has been named Michigan Wine Month, and we’re ready to raise our glass. Michael Schafer Esq., The Wine Counselor, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Michigan wineries

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

What are some of your favorite wine trails throughout Michigan?
There are so many great options to choose from. Each of the trails offer unique opportunities to enjoy Michigan’s world-class wines. While the most famous are the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and the Old Mission Peninsula Trail, the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Trail, the Lake Michigan Shore area and the Bay View Trail are fascinating and fun as well.

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

When do think the best time of year for wine tasting in Michigan is?
The best time of year for tasting Michigan wines is all year round! Our wines are so varied and different, they’re delectable all the time. The prettiest time of year for visiting wineries is in the fall, but April is Michigan Wine Month and the Michigan Wine Showcase April 20, 2015 is a fantastic opportunity to sample wines from all over the state.

If someone had never been wine tasting in Michigan before, where would you recommend they go first?
I suggest they enjoy the area closest to them and then explore from there. If they’re on a quest to taste our wines and distance isn’t a factor, the Leelanau Peninsula would be my first choice.

What makes Michigan wines unique?
Three factors make Michigan wines unique. 1. Our locations, or terroir (a French word used to describe the grapes’ neighborhood) close to many lakes and rivers in addition to our proximity to the Great Lakes. 2. We’re between the 41st and 47th parallels of the earth. This is the same latitude as Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley and the Piedmont region. All of these areas are world-famous for producing great wines.3. The hardworking  Michiganders who grow the grapes for our creative Michigan winemakers to make the wine.

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

Photo courtesy of The Wine Counselor

What would people be surprised to learn about Michigan wine or wineries?
The Michigan wine business originally started in the Monroe area, close to the Ohio border. It moved to the “fruit belt” of Western Michigan, now known as the lake Michigan Shore area.

What’s your favorite Michigan wine?
The one that’s currently in my glass!

Where can people go to taste & learn about Michigan wines?
The Michigan Wine Showcase on April 20 at the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Michigan wines. More information can be found at www.michiganwines.com/showcase.

Where can people go to learn more?
A  wonderful resources are Michiganwines.com.  There is a plethora of information on this easy to use website.

Watch Michael tell us more about how Michigan wines are made below. 

Michael SchaferMichael Schafer Esq., The Wine Counselor®, is the charismatic speaker, educator, Sommelier, CSW, CCTP, writer and consultant who entertains while educating. His humorous and fun approach is reflected in his trademark phrase “I taste bad wine so you don’t have to”®. Whether training restaurant teams, conducting private tastings, or customizing a wine event, Michael demystifies wine and leaves his clients laughing and learning! WineCounselor.net

 

Five Reasons to Make South Haven Your Next Summertime Getaway

Home to some of Michigan’s oldest resorts and bed and breakfasts, South Haven is where summer fun begins. Experience its beachtown history, maritime heritage, wineries and numerous art galleries. South Haven Visitors Bureau explains why it’s easy to make this West Michigan gem your new summer tradition.

Photo by Keshia Lynn Stone

Photo by Keshia Lynn Stone

Imagine a place where you can embrace the small town charm with more than 70 upscale shops, cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Enjoy the warm summer sun on one of seven beaches. Feel the gentle breezes as you leisurely walk the pier of the often-photographed historic lighthouse. Experience the Great Lakes’ rich heritage in the Maritime District. Sail Lake Michigan on a tall ship or cruise the harbor on an old-fashioned water taxi. Travel Blue Star Highway where artisans, galleries and antiques converge on a 16-mile stretch of scenic roadway, and celebrate the bountiful harvest at plentiful year-round farmers markets and wineries.

Though we don’t think it will take much convincing, here are five reasons to make South Haven your next summertime getaway.

Seven Public Beaches – One for each day of the week

Photo by Jamie Garvison

Photo by Jamie Garvison

South Haven is known for beautiful, sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Our visitors love to experience a different beach each day of week. Choose from family-friendly beaches with playground equipment or secluded beaches perfect for that perfect romantic sunset, or if you’re up for some water play you’ll love that you can rental paddleboards, kayaks, jet skis, sailboats, and fishing boats.

Beautiful Scenery – Wooded bike trails, dunes for hiking, scenic drives, and a Covered Bridge

No matter where you go, whether it’s a stroll downtown eating an ice cream cone or biking the 34 mile Kal-Haven Bike Trail or a leisurely paddle down the Black River; the natural scenic beauty will take your breath away.

Shopping in Downtown South Haven – The river runs through it

The greatest part about shopping in South Haven is the family-owned, one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques you’ll discover. From resort wear to cottage decor stores to fudge, ice cream and everything in between; South Haven’s downtown is alive with activity – year ‘round! The best part is that it is only a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan beaches,  and several stores are located in Old Harbor Village, right on the river.

Photo by Jamie Garvison

Photo by Jamie Garvison

Wine Lovers and Foodies love Van Buren County

If you love dining, wine tasting and tours, there are fabulous restaurants and a dozen wineries in the area. Sample at St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, a scenic 35 minute drive from South Haven, and you’ll experience the history and flavor of Michigan as an emerging wine capital! St. Julian Winery is Michigan’s Oldest, Largest and Most Awarded Winery.

South Haven is walkable and convenient

Enjoy a mile walk on South Haven’s exclusive HarborWalk which extends from the Lighthouse on the South Pier around the harbor to the North Pier. Along the way, take in South Haven’s Historic Markers to see the many ways maritime history is woven into the story of South Haven.

Whether you’re coming to visit for a day or a week; you’ll go home with treasured memories from South Haven and Van Buren County that will last a lifetime! 

Four Ways to Experience Arts and Culture in Grand Rapids

If you’re looking for unique arts and culture events, a visit to Grand Rapids is in order. From LiveArts, an extraordinary, collaborative stage production, to the amazing beauty of the new Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, you’ll want to catch everything that’s happening in Grand Rapids this spring.

Here are four ways to experience the arts on Michigan’s west side from Experience Grand Rapids. 

1. LiveArts

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 1.27.00 PMFor starters, you won’t want to miss LiveArts, a multi-media extravaganza about the vital role arts plays in our lives. LiveArts takes place at Van Andel Arena on April 24 and is a unique collaboration between the Grand Rapids Symphony, Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, Grand Rapids Ballet, Opera Grand Rapids, and Broadway Grand Rapids.

The performance will include 1,500 performers and feature highlights from familiar music, like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” and Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony No. 9, as well as dancing, visual effects, and more.

As you watch and listen, you’ll be drawn into the story of a young boy who discovers his passion for the cello and follow his journey as he attempts to master the instrument. Instead of taking place entirely on a traditional stage, LiveArts is creatively using multiple levels in the production.

Another unique component, says Roger Nelson, Vice President and COO for the Symphony, is the addition of visual elements. “In an ordinary concert presentation of the symphony, we ask people to use their imagination,” he says. “This show is different because in addition to hearing the music and watching the performers, people will see coordinated lighting, graphical images, and larger-than-life images of the performers.”

You can click here to read more about LiveArts in our first post on the event. Or, click here to buy tickets for LiveArts.

2. DisArt Festival

For 2 weeks, from April 10 – April 25, venues throughout Grand Rapids will host an international exhibition of artwork by artists with disabilities for the DisArt Festival. The 16-day festival will feature innovative work by over 35 international artists, with the aim of changing public perceptions about disability and connecting people through art.

DisArt logo[1]Head to the GRAM at 6PM on April 10th to hear the Curator Talk that kicks off the DisArt Festival, then join the fun at other kick-off events that will take place throughout the evening at a number of venues around Grand Rapids. During the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to view a film festival, a fashion show, several cultural education events, and dance performances as well as more traditional art exhibits. Check here for a complete list of DisArt Festival events.

When you visit the DisArts Festival you’ll also have the opportunity to see the U.S. premiere of Art of the Lived Experiment, which will be on display at three downtown locations: the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), Kendall College of Art and Design, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA). Art of the Lived Experiment was curated by artist Aaron Williamson for the U.K’s DaDaFest International 2014 and includes a range of artworks, from sculpture and painting to photography and ceramics, by artists from around the world. The collection will remain in Grand Rapids through July 31st

Another exhibition you can see both during and post-festival is artist Riva Lehrer’s The Risk Pictures. Lehrer’s work has been displayed at the United Nations and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, among other locations. Visitors to Grand Rapids can see The Risk Pictures at The Richard App Gallery from April 11 – through June 30th. M

For more information, visit the DisArts Festival website.

3. The Discovery of King Tut Exhibit

For an entirely different kind of experience, check out the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s super cool exhibit, The Discovery of King Tut, which opens May 16 and runs through January 2016.

Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Public Museum

King Tut (short for Tutankhamen) became pharaoh when he was only 8-years old and died mysteriously about 11 years later. For unknown reasons, his name was erased from Egyptian monuments and he was all but forgotten until British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered his tomb in 1922.

Two parts comprise the exhibition at the Grand Rapids Public Museum: First, you’ll be transported, via media, thousands of years back in time to the world that existed when King Tut ruled. Next, you’ll learn how Howard Carter discovered his tomb all those years later.

The second part of the exhibition is a reproduction of the three incredible burial chambers discovered by Carter. The exhibit uses scientifically produced reconstructions of the chambers and their contents, so you’ll essentially see what Howard Carter saw when he made the discovery.

You can read more details and find ticket information on the GRPM website.

4. The Grand Opening of The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

If you’ve been to beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, you’re not alone. With more than 550,000 visitors annually, it’s a destination that attracts people from all over the world to see sculptures by artists like Rodin and Moore, explore the latest gallery exhibits, play in the magnificent children’s gardens, enjoy Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory (wonderful anytime of year but especially nice to visit in the winter), take in a summer concert, or stroll through the bountiful outdoor gardens and—one of my kids favorites—Michigan’s Farm Garden.

Beginning June 13, 2015 visitors can add the 8 ½ acre Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden to their list of must-see exhibits.

The Japanese garden represents the culmination of 3+ years of hard work, begun in 2012 following the initial idea proposed by Fred Meijer in 2009. Designed by Hoichi Kurisu, president and founder of Kurisu International, Inc., the Japanese garden is in an ideal setting that includes elevation changes in addition to a variety of horticultural elements, including scenic bridges and waterfalls. As you walk through and explore the new Japanese garden, you can expect to find tranquility and simplicity in its beauty.

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

In a departure from traditional Japanese gardens, the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden will also contain sculptures, in keeping with Frederik Meijer Gardens’ dual mission of horticulture and sculpture. To honor the essence of the Japanese garden tradition and philosophy, these contemporary sculptures will offer thoughtful and thought-providing aesthetics amidst the naturally peaceful setting.

For more information on the grand opening of The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, click here.

So many events, all in one place: it’s time to experience Grand Rapids!