Warm Up With Winter Wine Tasting

As winter comes to an end in Michigan, it’s the perfect time to enjoy wine tasting on one of the last cold days of the year. Today, Trisha Verma, co-founder of Drink Michigan, shares some tips on winter wine tasting.

Whether you’re exploring Old Mission peninsula or hanging out in southwest Michigan, wine tasting is a great way to spend a cold winter afternoon. The tasting rooms are less crowded, there are many labels to choose from, and you often get extra attention from the tasting room manager, allowing you to ask questions and learn more about the wine, winery, and the region.

There are a couple things to keep in mind when you’re winter wine tasting:

  • Make sure your designated driver can handle the snow – the hills and winding roads of Michigan’s wine trails are part of what makes the experience so beautiful. But in the winter, they can cause quite a headache as you’re trying to make your way from winery to winery. You know you need a designated driver when you wine taste, but be sure that driver is an experienced winter driver. Even if it isn’t snowing, the dirt roads can be slick, and getting up those hills (and controlling yourself going down them) can be tricky.
  • Dress appropriately – be sure to dress for the weather and the environment. Many wineries don’t have paved parking and sidewalks, so boots are a good idea. You also want to make sure to bring hats and gloves – you never know when that lake-effect snow machine is going to kick in!

One of the best parts of tasting in the winter is all the variety that’s often in stock. This is the time to be adventurous and expand your palate. Talk to the tasting room manager, and let them guide you in experimenting with new varietals.  A lot of the wines we’ve discovered as our favorites over the last few years have been things we never would have tried if we had stuck to what we thought we liked.

Here are a few of our favorite winter wines:

    • Forty Five North Unwooded Chardonnay – clean, crisp white with great acidity
    • Black Star Farms Arcturos Cabernet Franc – a bold, full-bodied red wine that heats you up from the inside out.
    • L. Mawby Blanc de Noir – there’s never a wrong time for sparkling wine.
    • Fenn Valley Capriccio – a softer red, but full of great flavor.
    • Peninsula Cellars Merlot Reserve – full-bodied, and will age well (if you can wait that long!)

    With just a few weeks left before the masses storm the tasting rooms for spring releases, now is the perfect time to strap on your boots and go exploring on the Michigan wine trails. Be adventurous, and make sure you have a little extra money on you to buy a few bottles of your favorites. Many of the wineries don’t have state-wide distribution, so the tasting rooms are often the only place to get your hands on a bottle – don’t miss out on your chance to take some home!

Have any questions about wine tasting in the winter (or any other season), or want to share your favorite Michigan wines? Leave a comment, and let me know!

Trisha Verma is a passionate Michigander and the co-founder of Drink Michigan – a site dedicated to promoting and celebrating Michigan-made beer, wine, and spirits. Drink Michigan holds events to introduce others to Michigan products, travels across the state to try new and interesting offerings, and is always looking for new ways to incorporate Michigan beer, wine, and liquor into interesting recipes.

Fall is a Grape Time for Pure Michigan Wine

With the crisp autumn air and rolling landscapes through the scenic countryside, fall is a great time to visit some of the more than 80 Michigan wineries across the state.

Whether it’s touring individual wineries, hitting one of the Michigan wine trails, checking out an upcoming tasting event or staying at one of the winery bed & breakfast inns in the Grand Traverse Region, there are plenty of activities to make every wine lover feel right at home in Pure Michigan.

Taste

  • Join Heather Dean, sommelier for Andiamo restaurants in the Detroit metropolitan area, as she introduces selections available for sampling at the Michigan Wine Tasting on October 27 at Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College in Clinton Township.
  • Try delicious appetizers and desserts from 13 local restaurants that complement Michigan wines and other international sips to be poured at A Taste for the Holidays, on November 2 at Bordine Nursery in Clarkston.
  • Sample food, wine, beer, and spirits and enjoy gastronomic workshops, seminars and cooking demos at the 4th annual Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festivalat DeVos Place on the Grand River, November 17-18.
  • Feast on a Fall Harvest Dinner of country ham, scalloped potatoes, applesauce streusel and wines of Wolcott Winery in Mt. Morris on October 29.
  • Savor the delicacies of two chefs who will create different 5-course menus served with appropriate wines for the November 5 and November 12 Fall Harvest Dinners at Fenn Valley Vineyards in Fennville.

Tour

  • Sip and tour the winery while sampling food and wine pairings at the Brys Estate Annual Harvest Tour, on October 29 on the Old Mission Peninsula.
  • Join the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association for the Toast the Season on the weekends of November 5-6 and November 12-13 and visit your choice of 8 of the 18 member wineries each day for a self-guided tour to sample wine and gourmet food pairings geared toward the holidays.

Stay

Extend your visit with an overnight stay at wineries that also offer Bed & Breakfast accommodations. Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay has an inn with 8 guest rooms. Overlooking Grand Traverse Bay is Chateau Grand Traverse with its 6 guest rooms, and the 11-room Chateau Chantal. While not a winery, The Grey Hare Inn Vineyard Bed & Breakfast grows grapes and is conveniently located to the wineries of Old Mission and the Grand Traverse region.

Top Five Things You Must Do Before Summer Ends

Flickr Photo Credit - Adrienne AdamsCollege senior Ashley Prescott winds down her summer in Traverse City with some advice about the best ways to have fun in her adopted hometown.

During the two months I’ve called Traverse City home, I’ve tried to immerse myself in the entire  northern Michigan experience.

I’ve watched the sun sparkle on Grand Traverse Bay, breathed the fresh smell of pine while driving through open land, and felt the warmth of beach sand beneath my bare feet. And now it’s almost over!

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