2010 was a great year for Michigan wine. New wineries opened, the national press has started recognizing the region, and Michigan By The Bottle has been flourishing. On a more personal note, it was a year of learning and discovery for me. Here are five things that I learned/realized in 2010:
- Michigan is a great sparkling wine region. We all know that Larry Mawby reigns supreme in this venue, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about other Michigan wineries putting up some great Michigan sparklers. In addition to the classics from L. Mawby, we had some fantastic sparklers from Tabor Hill (Grand Mark is to die for!), 2 Lads, Black Star Farms, and Brys Estate (although their “Bubbly” was so popular that it sold out).
- The Southeast and Southwest Michigan wineries play second fiddle to no one. We were more than impressed with some of the red wines coming out of this region. Domaine Berrien blew us away with its Crown of Cab and Syrah. I would argue that Lone Oak’s Merlot is one of the best in the state. Fenn Valley and St. Julian Braganini Reserve Meritage were some of our favorite wines all year. The Cabernet Franc from Free Run Cellars deserved the Harding’s Cup it won earlier this year.
- Riesling does not have to be sweet. We had some tremendous Dry Riesling this year. Chateau Grand Traverse is always among the top in this category, especially with their Lot 49 Riesling. Black Star Farms Arcturos Dry Riesling was another favorite this year. St. Julian’s former winemaker Dave Miller continued the tradition with a Dry Riesling at his new venture, White Pine Winery.
- Lemberger is (or should be) the new Pinot Noir. Although the name Lemberger is not as sexy as Pinot Noir, I believe that Miles would agree that this grape deserves some serious attention. We had tremendous Lemberger from Circa Estate, Tabor Hill, Domaine Berrien, Shady Lane Cellars, and Silver Leaf Vineyards this year. I hope that other wineries will take note and start exploring!
- Michigan wineries are really a destination! They offer much more than just wine tasting and a place to pick up a bottle (or a case.) Readers of MBTB know that we love the nightlife at Left Foot Charley. The bed and breakfasts at Chateau Grand Traverse and Chateau Chantal are fantastic places to experience the Old Mission Peninsula. The Inn at Black Star Farms always impresses oenophiles looking for an elegant place to stay while visiting Northern Michigan wine country. One of our favorite restaurants in the state is located at Tabor Hill.
I can’t wait to spend 2011 exploring more Michigan wineries, tasting more wine, and promoting everything that this state has to offer.