We spent our last day at the Michigan Grape & Wine Council annual meeting exploring three wineries on Old Mission Peninsula. There are two AVAs and while our favorite is Leelanau, across the Bay is Old Mission and there is some great wine being made there as well.
Our first stop was Chateau Grand Traverse and we were hosted in great fashion with tastings of their wonderful Riesling portfolio as well as an overview of their vineyard by winemaker Bernt who is a long time employee of CGT. It was a wonderful way to start the day!
The next stop was Peninsula Cellars whose tasting room is in a small schoolhouse built in 1897. It was a quaint setting that we had been to before and always enjoy. They served us some very nice blends as well as cherry and apple fruit wines. All good, refreshing and done with great hospitality.
The tour ended at
Mari Vineyards which is one of the most impressive wineries I have ever visited. The scale of this operation is huge and the owner, Marty Lagina, has obviously planned for the future. There is room for expansion and a huge underground cellar which allows for year-round consistent temperatures of approximately 60 degrees F which is perfect for barrel aging wines.
The tasting room is equally impressive with plenty of room for wine tasters, a large wood burning fireplace, and sweeping views of the vineyards and Traverse Bay. The tasting hosts are knowledgeable and courteous.
But most impressively, Mari Vineyards will begin experimenting with Northern Italian varietals which have not been cultivated in Northern Michigan. This is somewhat dangerous since the winter can bring harsh and extreme temperatures that can kill vinifera root stock, but Mari has invested in large scale hoop structures that extend the growing season and also protect root stock during winter months. It will be interesting to see if this approach is successful and leads to increasing the varietals that are grown in the Traverse City area. I certainly hope so!