Attending one of Sandhill Crane Vineyards' Second Sunday Jazz Brunches has long been on our to-do list, but we live just far enough away — about 90 minutes — to make it one of those things that we kept putting off. Finally, I had obnoxiously commented on SCV's Facebook posts so many times, over so many months ("Wish I could be there!" "Sounds so fun!" etc.) that Colleen Peterson, the winery's public events coordinator, invited us personally to attend. It was the kick in the rear we needed to finally take the day off and actually put it on our calendars.
Sandhill has always been one of those places where I'd spend more time if only we lived closer. Their cabin-like tasting room in Jackson is surrounded by vineyards, making it feel like a slice of peaceful Northern Michigan down south. (And, once in awhile, you're lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the actual namesake Sandhill Cranes milling around or taking flight.) They host a solid and varied roster of events every month, from their Wine & Wool Festival to wine release parties to concerts and even plays.
Colleen says the Jazz Brunches evolved from a special annual Mother's Day celebration to a monthly staple of their event lineup about two years ago due to popular demand. It's now held (as the name suggests) on the second Sunday of each month.
The Jazz Brunch we attended on Aug. 13 was held in SCV's airy event space, with Brad McNett and Jake Reichbart performing on the elevated stage and attendees seated at flower-adorned tables. Guests received special brunch menus featuring offerings not usually on the menu at Crane Café, the eatery located onsite.
While the core of the Jazz Brunch menu stays the same, says Colleen, the specifics shift throughout the year to incorporate the fruits and vegetables that are in season. For instance, there's always either pancakes or French toast, and some kind of entree involving poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, she says.
Because we're suckers for cheese, we opted to start with the cheese and charcuterie board, which included two cheeses, thick-sliced salami, ham, cornichons, graber olives (the darling of wine judges everywhere — they're always offered at wine competitions as a palate cleanser, and they're the most delicious olives in the world, no joke), baguette and a delicious grain-y mustard.
That alone pretty much filled me up, but after that, it was time for the entrees. Shannon ordered the brown sugar pancakes, topped with blackberries that Colleen said were fresh-picked that morning from SCV's property. I tried Mabel's Quiche, a nod to a now-defunct restaurant in Traverse City that I used to visit annually as a kid. It had Gruyere cheese, Dearborn ham and asparagus baked into a hash brown crust, with a side of fresh fruit. Other options included Smoked Trout Spread, Ratatouille & Ham Napoleon (which looked divine ... we watched nosily as it was delivered to another table nearby) and a variety of sweet and savory panini. (Click here to view the full menu on the day we visited.)
As we wound down, my heart wanted the Brownie Sundae — a Zingerman's Magic Brownie, topped with Calder's vanilla ice cream — for dessert, but my stuffed-to-the-brim stomach begged otherwise. I compromised by liquifying my dessert. Shannon and I split a flight of port-style wines, which came with 1420, SCV's recently released white port; Ember, a raspberry port; and their signature 840 and 840 Reserve ports, along with squares of Mindo Chocolate Makers dark chocolate. It was the perfect, indulgent end to the meal. Other dessert options included Almond Joy ice cream topped with port and a vanilla ice cream drizzled with raspberry wine.
While the food was delicious, perhaps the coolest part of the brunch was the unique wine cocktails offered. We tried one of each: The Peachy Arnold (semi-sweet Solstice white wine, peach tea, lemonade and peaches from SCV's own peach tree), the Riesling Mimosa (semi-sweet Riesling with a splash of orange juice, topped with club soda) and Sipping on the Veranda (Veranda mead with fresh blackberries, fresh lime and lemon-lime soda). Colleen says there's always at least two wine cocktails available, with offerings rotating month to month.
SCV's full wine list also was available by the glass, and walk-up wine tasting was available at the bar at the rear of the banquet area. If brunchtime feels too early for wine, don't worry: a variety of other beverages are available, including Zingerman's Coffee, Arbor Teas, lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate, lemonade, iced tea and pop.
To dwell only on the food and drink would neglect the music that served as backbone of the entire event. Brad and Jake provided a mellow live soundtrack that seemed appropriate for the sunny, relaxed Sunday morning, with tons of Sinatra and friends featured. (Brad's voice reminded me, very distinctly, of Michael Bublé.)
We'd like to thank Sandhill Crane for inviting us out as their guests for the event, and we hope to visit again soon! If you're interested in registering for an upcoming Second Sunday Jazz Brunch, visit their website at SandhillCraneVineyards.com.
In the interest of full disclosure, Sandhill Crane Vineyards provided us brunch free of charge; however we never write about wines/experiences we don't like! For more info on our coverage/trade sample policy, please click here.
Article by Cortney Casey, MichiganByTheBottle.com. We strive to be your definitive source of information on Michigan wines; therefore, we welcome you to link to this page or print an excerpt that leads back to our site. However, as our work is copyrighted, we kindly ask that you do not copy and paste this or any other portion of Michigan By the Bottle in its entirety on another site. We appreciate your cooperation. For reprint inquiries, please email email@example.com.