Thursday, May 16, 2013

bigLITTLE Winery

As I have gotten to know the Michigan wineries over the past few years, I have realized that they are like a big family. Each appellation (Approved Viticultural Areas or AVA) works together to create events for common support. bigLITTLE Winery exemplifies this tradition. I met vintner Mike Laing (the big brother) at a Grand Rapids tasting, and he graciously invited me for a sneak-peek of the upcoming bigLITTLE tasting room on the Leelanau Peninsula. bigLITTLE is a Laing family business and a great example of the mentorship between Leelanau Peninsula Vintners.

The tasting room is under construction on Larry Mawby’s property. Mawby has been making wine since the 1970s and specializes in sparkling wine. Mike and his brother Pete are transforming Mawby’s former house into the tasting room. I loved the DIY rustic feel of the project. Keep track of the progress on their Facebook page. It is passive solar and will seat 15 people. The bar is reclaimed materials; the wood came from the former loft in the building. And, the metal is from the roof of a barn that collapsed on property across the street.

Mike started working at Mawby Winery six years ago; he now makes the M. Lawrence line. His brother Pete joined in 2010. Pete manages the winery's computer systems, purchasing, distributors, and labeling. All of the grapes used in the bigLITTLE wines are grown on the Leelanau Peninsula at their parents’ farm. In a few years they will expand to the grape vines that Mike’s father-in-law recently planted.

Mike and Pete are using Mawby’s extra tank equipment and capacity. Larry is also mentoring them on the art of wine making. Most of the wines are still, but they have one sparkling wine.

The wines are named for the childhood memories that Mike and Pete share. Mike said, “We used to hunt for Crayfish in the creek next to our house.  We had a Treehouse and Tire Swing in our backyard.  Our generation made Mixtapes for each other to share music.” These are the names of the wines; unique and fun.

The tasting room is scheduled to open Thursday May 23rd. Below are the wines available.

Blend: 100% Pinot Gris
Flavors: Concentrated Dried Fruits; Coating Mouthfeel, Rich Finish
Pairings: Earthy Cheeses, Fish, Roasts

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Flavors:  Oak and Bruised Red Fruits; Silky and Full Bodied
Pairings: Pizza, Nutty Cheeses, Bacon

Tire Swing (Sparkling)
Blend: 75% Riesling, 10% Gewurztraminer, 10% Pinot Gris, 10% Pinot Noir
Flavors: Green Apple & Citrons; Bright Acid, Subtle Yeast
Pairings: Oysters, Salads, BBQ

Blend: 50% Riesling, 30% Pinot Gris, 20% Pinot Noir
Flavors: Pink Grapefruit, SweetTart;  Uniquely Refreshing
Pairings: Spicy Foods, Sushi

If you cannot wait until the opening, you will find the wine at Plum Market in West Bloomfield or Ann Arbor, Art of the Table and Siciliano’s in Grand Rapids, and Everyday Wines in Marquette. It is also served at Salt of the Earth restaurant in Fennville.  

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