Today's Michigan Wine Lover of the Week comes to us from across the border — the state border, that is. Meet Darren Jasieniecki, a Schererville, Indiana, native who hails the wines from his northern neighbor as "among the best in the country." Find out how Darren fell in love with Michigan wines, what memorable milestone occurred during one of his wine trail journeys, and why he has a gold medal to his name!
"I believe my first Michigan wine was from Tabor Hill and was a Dry Traminette; was, and still is, a great summer wine."
What was the first Michigan winery you ever visited?
"The first Michigan winery I ever visited was Karma Vista. I was amazed by the beautiful vineyards and it felt more like I was in Northern California than Southwest Michigan. Then my wife and I were taken through the wine list by the winemaker and it was just so cool to hear the different wine described to us from the actual winemaker. Karma Vista will always be one of our favorites because of the people, wine and beautiful location."
What's your favorite Michigan wine?
"That’s a tough question, but I think I’d have to go with the Blue Franc from Shady Lane Cellars in Suttons Bay. It’s a perfect dry red with a touch of blackberry and has a unique level of pepper and spice. I think the fact that it is a big bold red but still has the smoothness and spice really set it apart from any other wine I have ever had."
What's your favorite Michigan winery?
"My favorite Michigan winery is Domaine Berrien Cellars. Every wine they make is of the highest quality. It’s hard not to walk out of there without a case of wine. Everything from the simple, smoky-tasting Wolf’s Prairie Red to the complex and unique Syrah, no matter what you taste there, it’s always amazing! Plus all their wines are estate grown which helps make them all affordable and the staff is very knowledgeable."
Do you have a favorite Michigan wine trail?
"My wife and I enjoy the SW Michigan Wine Trail because it’s so close to use living in Indiana. We do like the Traverse City area wineries also, just not able to get up there as much."
What's the most surprising Michigan wine you've tried?
"The Icebox Apple wine from Gill’s Pier Winery in Northport, Michigan. It’s made from a combination of six Michigan apples and I was astonished that such a well-crafted wine could be made from apples. It’s not overly sweet, very crisp and a great apple taste."
Got any memorable Michigan wine stories?
"I proposed to my wife in Traverse City during our first trip to the wineries in the area."
"People need to know that the wines produced in Michigan are among the best in the country! They can complete with any of the top wines from California and are usually much more affordable. Also, when you visit the wineries, there’s always a good chance to meet the winemakers and talk to them about their wines."
"I like to drink wine from the Sonoma Valley region. I’m a big fan of Geyser Peak, Simi, St. Francis and Tandem."
"I am not in the wine business, however, I do have about 30 vines growing in my backyard. This past spring, I entered a backyard-grown Cabernet Savingnon in the Winemaker Magazine International Amateur Wine Competition and won a gold metal. I was very pleasantly surprised; I did not expect to win anything at all, let alone a gold metal."
"The attached picture is of me and my wife Melissa at The Vineyard Inn on Suttons Bay, one of our favorite places to stay when we visit the Traverse City area."