Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula is well known for its agrarian, bay-side beauty. Located at the 45th parallel, it happens to be perfect for growing grapes, cherries, and even hops. There are now eight wineries on the peninsula. The newest – which had a soft opening last fall – is the Hawthorne Winery. The winery is a partnership between the Hawthorne family and Chateau Chantal. You know if the 20 year old Chateau Chantal is involved, there will be attention to detail and an abundance of hospitality.
The approach is off of Peninsula Drive. As you turn onto the property there is a spectacular view of the fieldstone and wood tasting room. The view from the building is the stunning view of the West Bay of Lake Michigan. The building also features a private tasting room and a deck with a fieldstone fireplace.
Hawthorne opened for their 2013 season (May through October) on May 1st. I popped in May 4th for a private tour and tasting. My host was Marie-Chantal Dalese. The wines convey the identity of the property owners, Bruce and Cathleen Hawthorne. Brian Hosmer, a vintner at Chateau Chantal, is also the Hawthorne vintner. They made 2,500 cases of wine in 2012. Their goal is 5,000 cases annually within five years. The wine has its own identity; it is site specific, and the styles differ from those at Chateau Chantal. The wines are mostly dry wines, and the Pinot Noirs are aged in former Mondavi Opus One barrels. Here are some wines available with my personal notes:
2012 Pinot Grigio – Remember that long, hot 2012 summer? Well, here it is in a bottle: dry and fruity.
2012 Chardonnay – An un-oaked wine that is melon forward with a spice finish.
2012 Rose’ – This blend is made from free-running juices rather than pressed grapes. It has light tannins and is quite refreshing.
2010 Cabernet Franc / Merlot – These were co-fermented rather than separately fermented then blended. I found it to be baking spice forward with a jammy finish.
The other wines available are the 2012 Pinot Blanc, 2010 Barrel Reserve Chardonnay, 2012 Semi-Dry Gewurztraminer, 2012 Gamay Noir, 2010 Pinot Noir, and 2012 Select Harvest Riesling. The 2012 Pinot Noir will be available later this summer.
The grand opening is May 25th, and they are offering free wine tasting, light snacks, and live music for the event. After tasting these wines I can recommend them for your enjoyment.
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