Try These Pure Michigan Wine Pairings For Your Thanksgiving Meal

Did you know that Michigan grows more than 50 different grape varieties? As you’re planning your holiday menu, there’s sure to be one variety that suits your fancy. Guest blogger Karel Bush from the Michigan Wine and Grape Industry Council shares some Pure Michigan wine pairings for your Thanksgiving meal. 

Photo courtesy of Michigan Wines - Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Photo by Jeff Greenberg – Bowers Harbor Vineyards

There’s no better way to celebrate the season and Michigan’s agricultural bounty than to include Michigan wines on your holiday shopping list. Whether served at your own table or presented as a gift to friends and family, sharing local wines is a tradition all over the world.

There are many different savory flavors and levels of sweetness in a traditional Thanksgiving feast, so don’t limit yourself to just one wine – have some fun with your wine selection. Most holiday gatherings include a variety of people with a variety of tastes when it comes to wine – another reason to offer a few different selections.

This weekend, November 20-22, more than 25 Michigan wineries will be pouring their wines at the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival. This event is the largest event of its kind in the Midwest. Sample from more than 100 Michigan wines and ask winemakers and winery owners what they’re serving at their holiday table!

You can also try some of these award-winning wines from the Michigan Wine Competition and start your own tradition this holiday season.

Sparkling

Photo by Jeff Greenberg

Photo by Jeff Greenberg

Start out with bubbles! Aurora Cellars Brut received Best of Class Sparkling honors at the 2014 competition. It’s crisp with lovely aromatics of toasted brioche and roasted nuts. A bright, dry finish makes this the perfect way to start the celebration.

White

With traditional roast turkey and stuffing, the go-to choice is often a dry Riesling, but Pinot Grigio also makes a great pairing. Many Michigan wineries produce these varieties. Try Blustone Vineyards or Fenn Valley Vineyards for Riesling; Boathouse Vineyards or St. Julian Winery for Pinot Grigio.

There are always sweet elements on the holiday table, so consider adding a semi-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer to the mix. Try semi-dry Rieslings from Gill’s Pier Vineyard and Winery or White Pine Winery, and Gewurztraminer from Peninsula Cellars or Tabor Hill Winery. For a fun alternative, try a Traminette – an offspring of Gewurz – from Sandhill Crane Vineyards or 12 Corners Vineyards.

Red

Photo by Steve Sadler

Photo by Steve Sadler

Pinot Noir or another soft, flavorful red is an excellent choice, especially if your traditional bird is duck or goose. Try first-rate examples from Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery or Round Barn Winery. Delight your guests with a variety they might not be familiar with, like Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir; or try one of the many delicious red blends made in Michigan, like “Sole di Sera” from Northern Sun Winery, and Lawton Ridge Winery’s “Two Handed Red.”

Dessert

Last, but certainly not least, for Aunt Jenny’s pumpkin pie try a sweeter wine like Black Star Farms’ Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling. Or for a real treat, try “Snow Moon” – a delicious, decadent Vidal Blanc ice wine from Lemon Creek Winery (makes an incredible gift, too).

You can contact any of the Michigan wineries to have your favorite wine delivered right to your door. Be sure to order an extra bottle or two (or six) for gifts. Visit www.michiganwines.com for a complete list of Michigan wineries.

Which Pure Michigan wines do you plan to enjoy with your holiday meal? 

Karel Bush is promotion specialist for the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

 

 

Eight Ways You Didn’t Know You Could Use Michigan Apples

We’re all familiar with apple pies, apple crisp and caramel apples, but an apple a day can be used so many ways! Michigan apples make delightful desserts and simple healthy snacks, but the options are endless when it comes to cooking with Michigan apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each apple variety has its own unique taste and texture that makes it perfectly suited for certain styles of preparation.

Whether you prefer Honeycrisp, Jonagold or Golden Delicious, check out this usage chart to find how to best prepare your favorite variety and try your hand at whipping up these out-of-the-ordinary apple recipes courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee. 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Apple Turkey Wraps
Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups diced red Michigan Apples
1/2 cup low-fat lemon yogurt
4 flour tortillas, 8-inches in diameter
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
6 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey breast
2 ounces thinly sliced havarti cheese
2 cups clover sprouts

Combine Michigan Apples and yogurt. Set aside.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Divide and arrange remaining ingredients evenly over tortillas. Place ¼ of Apple mixture down center of each tortilla. Fold 2 opposite sides in about 1 ½ – inches and roll. Cut each wrap in half and serve immediately. Suggested Michigan Apple varieties to use: Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious or Rome.

Apple Pecan Burger
Ingredients:
1 cup shredded Michigan Apples
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 cup cold, cooked brown rice
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
5 hamburger buns, optional
5 tomato slices, optional
Lettuce, optional
Vegetable cooking spray

Place apples and remaining ingredients in food processor bowl. Using metal blade, process about 30 seconds or until evenly chopped and thoroughly combined. Using 1/2 cup measure, portion and shape mixture into 5 patties. (Mixture will be soft.) Place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake in 400 degree oven about 25 minutes or until deep golden brown. Serve hot on bun with tomato and lettuce or with sweet and sour sauce, if desired. Note: Patties may be broiled 4-5 inches from heat, about 3 minutes per side or until deep golden brown. Suggested Michigan Apple varieties to use: Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, or Rome.

 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Apple Nachos
Ingredients:
1 large Michigan Apple*, cut into 12 wedges
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Colby cheese
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar
Assorted crackers

Place apple wedges on microwave safe plate. Sprinkle cheese and cinnamon-sugar evenly over apples.Microwave on HIGH 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until cheese is melted and apples are hot. Scoop up the hot apple mixture with crackers. Suggested Michigan Apple varieties to use: Ida Red, Rome, Empire, Gala, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh.

Apple Salsa
Ingredients:
2 medium red Michigan Apples
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup chopped orange segments
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 finely chopped jalapeno
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Yield: 3 cups.

Core and dice apples into 1/4 inch pieces. Toss immediately with lime juice. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill 2 hours before serving over fish, chicken or turkey. Suggested Michigan Apple varieties to use: Empire, Gala, Ida Red, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious, or Rome.

 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Caramelized Apples and Cheese Quesadillas
Ingredients:
4 tsp. butter
1 medium unpeeled cored Golden Delicious or Gala apple, sliced
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 (6-inch) whole grain tortillas
2 slices reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)

Sauté apples in butter in skillet on medium heat 3-4 minutes or until apples are soft and lightly browned. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook 1-2 minutes on medium-low until sugar is dissolved. Overlap cheese slices on 1 of the tortillas. Top with apple mixture; cover with second tortilla.

Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Cook tortilla 2-3 minutes per side or until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Cut into quarters and serve with sour cream.

Roasted Rome Feta Salad
Ingredients:
4 firm Michigan Rome Apples*, peeled and cut into sixths
2 tbsp. brown sugar
8 cups mixed greens
4 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
2 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:
2 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp.apple cider vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss apples with brown sugar. Spread in a single layer on prepared sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until apples begin to brown but are still firm enough to pick up with a fork. Remove and cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss greens and green onions together. Chill for 30 minutes. Shake dressing ingredients together in a small jar. Set aside. Just before serving, drizzle salad with dressing. Toss. Divide into four salad bowls. Divide bacon and cheese onto each. Arrange 6 apple slices on each. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings. Other suggested varieties: Empire, Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, Jonamac, McIntosh

Apple Cider Vinaigrette Dressing
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh apple cider
½ teaspoons cracked black pepper
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt sprinkle of ground clove to taste
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
1 and ¼ cup vegetable oil

Mix together all ingredients (except oil) until sugar is dissolved.

 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee

Michigan Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients:
3 cups Michigan Jonagolds or your favorite Michigan Apple, cored and chopped
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed*
1 cup sweet onion, peeled and roughly diced
2 T. Michigan butter
1 T. grated ginger
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ cups Michigan Apple cider
3 to 4 cups of liquid (equal parts chicken stock and water), depending upon thickness of soup desired*
salt and pepper to season and taste

In large soup pot, add butter, squash, apples and onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes to soften onion.  Add 1 cup of water to help steam squash. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes, or until squash is soft. Blend mixture with a hand immersion blender or in a stand-alone blender or food processor. (If using blender or food processor, process in batches.) Return mixture to the soup pot, add nutmeg, ginger and apple cider and the remaining liquid for desired consistency. Salt and pepper to season and taste. Serve with a small daub of sour cream or Greek plain yogurt on top and with crusty bread. Enjoy!

*Chef notes: Roasting squash adds a wonderful layer of flavor. Try it. Place squash in oven-proof pan. Add 1-2 T. oil and 1 t. dried sage. Toss squash to coat. Place in 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Encourage charring of the squash for extra flavor.If you want vegetarian soup, add equal parts water and cider to taste in place of chicken stock. May need extra seasoning and salt.

See more Michigan apple recipes on our Pinterest board.

Are you a master Michigan apple chef? Share your recipes with us below!

Get Your Fall Fix at These Michigan Cider Mills and Orchards

Whether your preference is tart and tangy, crisp and crunchy, or sweet and juicy, there’s  a Michigan apple variety to satisfy all taste buds. Many apple aficionados prefer Michigan Honeycrisp and Jonagold for their crisp bite and distinctive flavor, while Fuji and Gala are usually enjoyed fresh. Either way, you can’t go wrong by taking a bite into a Michigan apple this fall!

 So where will you take your first sip or bite this fall? Check out our roundup of all things apple.

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The Orchards – where U-Pick!

Westview Orchards and Adventure Farm is a 188-acre award- winning family farm and orchard. Located 45 minutes north of Detroit, the orchard features a Farm Market open 8-6 daily, June through December 24th, with homegrown fruits and fall vegetables, fresh bakery items, honey, apple cider, and more. The famous U-Pick open with cherries in late June through mid-July, peaches in early August through Labor Day, apples in late August through end of October, and pumpkins in late September through end of October. Make sure you don’t leave without picking up one of Westview’s signature “flips” or pies!

Take a fall trip to see the colors and make a stop at Miller’s Big Red Apple Orchard. Miller’s U-Pick includes apples, pumpkins, raspberries and strawberries. The pies, breads, jams and jellies are made fresh from scratch with all home grown ingredients. Miller’s Big Red invites you and your family to let them show you what fall is all about in the orchard.

Photo courtesy of Facebook fan Davey Robinson

Photo courtesy of Facebook fan Davey Robinson

Crane Orchards and Corn Maze Today, aside from producing almost all of the fruit that the Pie Pantry needs for its fruit desserts and apple cider, Crane Orchards is one of the finest u-pick orchards in Michigan. With over 15 different varieties of apples, peaches and sweet cherries for the discriminating u-picker to choose from, the scenery is breath taking. When your basket is full, get lost in a 15-acre family-friendly Corn Maze! Hayrides are offered to visitors in the fall after a long day of u-picking and maze navigating.

At Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Armada, enjoy apple and pumpkin picking, train or hay rides, Barnyard Funland and animal farm, and cider & donuts on your visit to the country. You can even pick your own strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, pears and tomatoes. Blake’s also features dwarf fruit trees and thousands of Christmas trees mid November thru December 23rd!

Nestled in rolling hills dotted with farms, Alber’s Orchard and Cider Mill near Manchester has been in business since 1890. View an old fashioned cider press, enjoy the freshest ice cold cider around.

The Cider Mills

The Historic Dexter Cider Mill near Ann Arbor is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in Michigan. Today, the cider mill keeps its more than 120-year old cider making tradition by using an oak rack press and blending three to five different locally grown apple varieties in every pressing.

The Franklin Cider Mill opened in 1832 and has been serving hungry, and thirsty, customers since. The mill happy sells many fresh products, including fresh-pressed cider, hot donuts, freshly baked pies and caramel and candy apples made at the mill. Franklin also offers some of the tastiest smoked been and cheese varieties around!

YatesMill

Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills has been water-powered since 1863, and presses 300 gallons of fresh blended apple cider per hour. Visitors can also indulge in fresh donuts, apple pies, fudge, apple crisp, jams, and more.  including freshly pressed cider, hot donuts, freshly baked pies and caramel and candy apples made on at the mill. Franklin also offers smoked beef and many varieties of cheese.

Parmenter’s Northville Cider Mill specializes in fresh apple cider, donuts and caramel apples. The mill also has a winery available for wine tasting.

During a visit to Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. John’s, visit the bakery and enjoy fresh baked pies, breads, cookies and pastries. Before you leave, check out the gift shop and sample some wines in the tasting room. Finally, take a leisurely stroll through 1.5 mile scenic groomed nature trail.

Vander Mill is a cider mill and winery that serves the greater West Michigan area. The winery specializes in hard Ciders and apple wines, and is an active participant in  local farmers markets offering fresh cider, hot cider, fresh donuts, fresh baked pies, homemade fudge, homemade cinnamon roasted almonds, and Michigan preserves, salsas and sauces.

These are just a few of the many orchards and cider mills in Michigan. Do you have a favorite to add to the list? 

Michigan Apple Fun Facts

Think Michigan apples and cider are merely tasty fall treats? Think again! See what these fantastic fruits mean to the state’s economy…and your health!

 There are more than 9.2 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 36,500 acres on 850 family-run farms in Michigan.

Michigan apples are available August through June each year, thanks to atmosphere-controlled storage.

In 2013, Michigan harvested an estimated 30 million bushels (1.26 billion pounds) of apples.

The Michigan Honeycrisp’s popularity makes it hard for apples growers to keep up with demand.

Varieties_2web

Michigan slices more apples than any other state for use in pies and fresh cut slices and also processes apples into applesauce, fresh and shelf-stable apple cider and apple juice.

There are five regions in the state of Michigan related to apple orchard tours. These regions are: northwest, southeast, central west, central east and southwest.

Michigan apples offer a variety of benefits that contribute to a healthy diet. These benefits include reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

On average, Michigan apples only contain 80 calories.

Learn more about Michigan apples in the video below.

Now that you know Michigan apples are both delicious and a huge part of the state’s agriculture, where will you go first?