Monday, May 16, 2011

The Promise of the Future

On Sunday I visited Old Mission Peninsula for the annual cherry Blossom Days event. Driving along the cherry tree-lined roads, the cherry trees looked ethereal with their white blossoms. In the bay, portions of Lake Michigan were a Caribbean turquoise that I had not seen before. The non-fruit trees were barely leafing and blended into a lovely yellow-green background. The cherry blossoms were only one half to three quarters developed – there is still time to see them.

Each of the seven Old Mission wineries featured tastings for participants of special barrel and reserve wine samples. For $15.00 each received a commemorative wine glass and the tastings. Some wineries featured food pairings. They expected about 1,000 people just for Blossom Days over the weekend, and the winery tasting rooms were also open for general traffic.

I started at Chateau Chantal for the Blessing of the Blossoms; it was non-denominational (Christian) and featured a lot of music. Cherry pie from Sara Lee was served in the complementary brunch afterwards. Below is a portion of the blessing.

Lord, you have commanded us to work the land and care for it. Grant the gift of a useful harvest from the blossoms of this year and the work of those who labor the orchards and vineyards of Old Mission. We remember those who have gone before us and given birth to the industry we celebrate.

Renew our energies to search out and shape the forces that make these lands we share so special. Prod our sensitivities to appreciate those special determinants that make our piece of geography so fruitful and blessed.

Blossom Days is a good time to experience the promise of the future: see the cherry trees with their requisite bee hives and taste the next great batches of wine. The barrels will be bottled in the next year or so. If you want to learn more about how a wine develops, Blossom Days is the time – they are still too young to bottle.

Below is what the wineries were tasting from south to north. Visit their websites to watch for the full release of the barrel tastings.

Black Star Farms Old Mission: Raspberry Dessert Wine paired with homemade vanilla bean ice cream and granola.
Peninsula Cellars: Barrel sample of 2010 Merlot and a new release of 2007 Merlot/Cabernet Franc.
Chateau Grand Traverse: 2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and 2010 Gamay Noir.
Brys Estate: 2009 Cabernet Franc/Merlot. They set up stations around the cellar with additional wines paired with snacks where visitors could chat with knowledgeable staff – including the winemaker.
Bowers Harbor Vineyards: 2010 White Cepages and 2008 Cabernet Franc.
Chateau Chantal: 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Riesling and 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir; see the photograph below of Brian Hosmer. He is the Michigan winemaker and is serving the wine from the barrel using a “wine thief.”
Two Lads Winery: 2010 Chardonnay and 2010 Pinot Noir.

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