Autumn on the Vine
Fall is the perfect time to visit any one or more of the 71 wineries and vineyards in Michigan. This year 44 wineries won a total of 221 medals in the 2010 Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition judged by 25 wine experts from across the country. You can sample many of these wines this season by visiting a tasting room or one of the special wine events in October and November.
Michigan’s wine country is a valuable asset and produces nearly $700 million of economic value to the state. Wineries are a top tourism attraction and some offer first class lodging and meals as well as tasting room and vineyard tours. Currently more than 130 statewide restaurants serve Michigan wines and the list grows every day.
Michigan offers four wine trails that are easily accessible by car: Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail (23 wineries), Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail (10 wineries), Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (7 wineries) and Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail (18 wineries). You can enjoy Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet, Merlot, and many others including fruit and dessert wines.
The Homestead, located in Glen Arbor, is the host for the Autumn in the Vineyards weekend package that includes a tour of four of Leelanau County’s finest wineries. Enjoy a 5-course winemaker dinner at the conclusion of the October 29 weekend.
Don’t miss the annual Toast of the Season presented by the Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association on November 6-7 and 13-14. Wine lovers can visit at least 8 of the 18 member wineries each weekend day. Special lodging packages are available at area B & Bs, hotels and resorts. Reserve your tours and packages early. Tickets are $50 per person or $75 per couple. Couple ticket holders receive two glasses, pours and food at each winery, one gift basket and ornament.
The Kellogg Center in Lansing offers its fall Visiting Chef Series for wine and beer lovers. On November 11 indulge in an epicurean evening with Boathouse restaurant chef Eric NIttolo and the following evening meet with Bowers Harbor Vineyards winemaker Spencer Stegenga.
This year will mark the third time for the Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival held at Devos Place, November 18-20. Wines from around the world and Michigan’s own award-winning spirits will be featured along with sumptuous food. The event is sponsored by Tasters Guild International and includes several seminars on wine pairings and offers cooking and culinary technique demonstrations. Eight Grand Rapids restaurants will be on hand to give attendees a taste of their cuisine. Advance tickets are encouraged.
The wine event season concludes with the popular Great Macaroni & Cheese Bake Off on November 27 at the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula. The competitors are 14 local restaurants and chefs and they turn the familiar Mac & Cheese into culinary masterpieces. Old Mission wines are paired with the gourmet creations and attendees vote for their favorites. This event sells out every year, so don’t hesitate to get your tickets now.
If you really love wine it’s time to join the Vintage Michigan Club for only $15. Members receive discounts on wine, statewide restaurants, wine festivals and events and the annual Michigan Wine Country magazine along with monthly newsletters and a special gift.