Monday, September 17, 2012

The New Kids in (TC) Town -- Part One

I have been blogging about my visits to the Grand Traverse area since the beginning. I took another trip and went to some of my usual places: The Chateau Chantal Winery and B&B, Brys, and 2 Lads for wine, Spaghetti Jims for lunch, and Leelanau Cheese Co. for their famous Raclette cheese. Serendipitously, I was in the area at the same time that a co-worker was and we met up at Short’s Brewery in Belaire to hear a Grand Rapids band.

This post is about some new discoveries that I came across in the Traverse City and peninsula areas. Originally, it was meant to be a quick list, but there is so much going on in the area that I had to write it as two blog posts. The second one is coming soon. 

There are no less than nine NEW wineries in the northwestern section of the lower peninsula! Some don’t have tasting rooms yet; others are just getting started. My trip was short, but I was able to connect with a few of the wineries. I had contacted bigLITTLE winery after enjoying their wine on my recent trip to Ann Arbor. It turned out that they were doing a tasting in Grand Rapids at Art of the Table while I was tasting in their area up north. So, they are on my short list for my next trip.

I stopped by Brengman Brothers on the Leelanau Peninsula my first day of the trip. It is conveniently located on my way to Leelanau Cheese Company where I was headed to get my Raclette fix. I tasted some of their whites along with meeting owner Robert Brengman. And it was a fortunate coincidence that the owner of their sister winery in Italy was there that day. I enjoy learning about wine from experienced vintners, and Valpanera owner Giovanni Dal Becchio delivered.  Brengman packages and distributes the red wines in the US and Valpanera in Italy. The reds that I tasted were bold and delicious.

 My first morning at Chateau Chantal - which I fondly call the best place in the world to stay overnight – I sat down with Marie Chantal Dalese. They are a larger producer with a boutique feeling to their wines. I am a fan of several of their wines. And, if you are looking for a dessert wine, I highly recommend their Cerise. It is fabulous with dark chocolate. Marie and I talked about a new winery that Chateau Chantal is partnering with: Hawthorne Vineyards and Winery.

Hawthorne has 26 acres of wine grapes with room to expand. They are located on the Old Mission Peninsula with a stunning view of the west bay. They are planning to open in late September 2012 with a grand opening in May 2013 and will be open seasonally from May through October. There are four wines in the 2010 vintage that will be available when they open: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Lemberger (an Austrian grape), and a Merlot-Cabranet Franc blend. Although Chateau Chantal winemaker, Brian Hosmer, will be creating the Hawthorne wines, different techniques will be used. Hawthorne wines will be aged longer and in different oak barrels. They have some of the famous (Mondavi) Opus One barrels. And, the grapes will be from a different terroir even though they are grown on the same Peninsula.
The second post on my most recent Traverse City area will be on Michigan food. Follow my blog and find additional Michigan Foodie Information on my Facebook page.



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