Michigan has a diverse group of more than 70 wineries. Here is a brief overview of a few I visited in 2010. Not every wine from each winery is listed. Many tasting rooms do not charge a fee while those who do are usually under $10. The average price point is slightly higher, overall, than surrounding Midwestern states. “Of Note” indicates wines I thought were particularly well made and interesting. “Best of Show” indicates personal favorites.
Address: 10844 E. Revold Rd., Suttons Bay
Uniqueness: Agri-tourism destination with beautiful luxury inn. Creamery on premises.
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Rose’, Cab Franc, Pinot Noir, Pear, Cherry, Riesling.
Of note: Pinot Noir that holds up to lighter style Pinots from any region. Also known for their unique and delicious dessert wines.
Best of Show: Sirius Raspberry Dessert Wine (unbelievable with good chocolate), $24.50
Address: 9580 Shady Lane Rd, Suttons Bay
Uniqueness: Winemaker Adam Satchwell brings extensive California wine-making experience.
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Cab Franc, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, blends, Lemberger, Vignoles
Of note: Beautiful Reisling and the best Pinot Noir of my visit.
Best of Show: 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve, the closest thing to Oregon I’ve tasted outside Willamette Valley, $32
Address: 6130 – 122nd Ave, Fennville
Uniqueness: 30 years in wine business. Pioneer Doug Welsch conducts vineyard tastings.
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Traminette, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Blends, desert/specialty wines.
Of note: More than 30 wines on tasting room list.
Best of Show: Cabernet Franc. A number of surprisingly good ones all over, this one was best for $22.
Address: 7161 North West Bay Shore Drive, Omena
Uniqueness: Beautiful tasting room sitting on Grand Traverse Bay.
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Baco Noir, Baco Noir Rose’, blends, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, dessert wines, fruit wines.
Of note: States biggest producer with lowest prices. Many wines at $6.99.
Best of Show: Baco Noir. Certainly not a familiar grape. Very rich and full bodied, $14.
Address: 12239 Center Road, Old Mission Peninsula
Uniqueness: Another of state’s biggest wineries with large tasting room. Lots of medal winners.
Wines: Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Gamay, Merlot, Cherry.
Of note: Honored Riesling producer with lots of hardware to prove it.
Best of Show: 2007 Gamay Noir. I know this is crazy but it tasted like a Beajoulais Grand Cru, $18.99.
Address: 11480 Center Rd., Old Mission Peninsula
Uniqueness: Tasting room 1896 one-room school house. A must stop when in the area..
Wines: Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Cab Franc, Merlot, blends, fruit wines.
Of note: Several Rieslings which have won national accolades. Fun, inexpensive blends like Homework, Detention, and Old School Red and White.
Best of Show: Dry Riesling with elegant style and light fruit. $14.99
Address: 16985 Smokey Hollow Rd, Old Mission Peninsula
Uniqueness: Modern/urban tasting room with spectacular view of east Grand Traverse Bay..
Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Rose’, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Franc, Reserve blends, sparkling wines.
Of note: Well-made wines from two ambitious, young winemakers.
Best of Show: Cabernet Franc Rose. Best Rose I tasted in about a dozen stops, $25, but worth it.
Prices: up to $30
Following three Southern Michigan wineries are only a few miles apart:
Address: 10983 Hills Road, Baroda
Uniqueness: Tasting room is Round Barn moved from Rochester, IN.
Wines: Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, fruit wines, blends, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, numerous dessert wines.
Of note: Beautiful location, lovely dessert wines and a brewery on site for the beer folks as well as their own Bourbon, rum, and vodka.
Best of Show: Gewurztraminer, this was floral, spicy and a great bottle of Thanksgiving wine for $15.99
Address: 185 Mount Tabor Road, Buchanan
Uniqueness: One of Michigan’s pioneers with winery and restaurant
Wines: Chardonnay, Chardonel, Traminette, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Cab Franc, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, dessert wines, sparking wines.
Of note: By far, the lightest wines I tasted in a dozen stops.
Best of Show: Norman Love chocolates available in tasting room.
Address: 398 E. Lemon Creek Rd.
Uniqueness: The only official member of national Rhone Rangers organization in the midwest
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Marsanne, Traminette, Cab Franc, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot.
Of note: Simple tasting room with really interesting wines.
Best of Show: Syrah was great for $25 but I brought home a $15.50 full bodied, complex Marsanne, with 20 percent Roussane.
Address: 806 Red Dr., Traverse City
Uniqueness: Industrial Urban Tasting Room located in a series old mental health hospital buildings. Other shops there too!
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Apple Ciders, blends.
Of note: Beautiful, award-winning Riesling. But can they sell it for $35 a bottle?
Best of Show: Pinot Blanc, 08 Best Dry White in Michigan competition, brightness but still bone dry, $20.