Alsace Wine Information

Michigan Wineries

Dateline: 06/09/99

Michigan Winery Map When some friends of ours moved to Michigan, we decided to take a motorcycle ride out from Massachusetts to go visit them. Naturally, we decided to taste as many Michigan wines as we could during the two days we were out there. Our friends were located in Manchester, and the Michigan Wines Website showed a winery existed there! That was our first scheduled stop.

We'd alerted our friends, and they'd looked for the Sharon Mills Winery unsuccessfully before our arrival. Undaunted, we decided to try again first thing Saturday morning. We printed the map off the web page and, with a few false turns, we found it! It's in the Sharon Mills building on the River Raisin. This was build in 1835 as a grist mill. Sadly, it's for sale, although the owners still intend to make wine. We stood, amazed, outside looking at the neat hydro-power generator that is visible through some windows, then went in.

The inside is gorgeous as well - stain glassed windows, lots of wood. They were sold out of most of their wines, so we tried the three they had left.

First was a 1997 Chardonnay, which was fresh, bright, and fruity. A slight hint of pears. It did have a slightly harsh aftertaste, which would mellow out beautifully with another year or two of aging. These grapes as well as all others used here are grown in Northern Michigan.

Next was the Semi-dry Riesling. This was smoother and lighter, and had a fruitier taste. It has a gorgeous finish to it. Very nice.

Finally, the Winter Spice, made with cherry, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and more. It has a quite full fruity flavor, with the cherry and spice prominant, of course. It can be served both cool in summer, or microwaved in the winter.

One of their sold-out wines is their Champagne - they shortly will have their 1989 vintage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ready for the "Millennium Release". As this has been aging for 10 years, I am vastly interested in seeing what that tastes like.

We spent the day around Ann Arbor, walking through parks and seeing the sites. After dinner, we tried the St Julian Winery Sweet Reserve Germanic-Style Seyval. They're located in Paw-Paw, Michigan. This is semi-sweet, with a hint of tangerine, or maybe even orange-juicey flavor to it. It has a nose of apple. Very flavorful, with residual sugar of 4%. A good end to the evening.

On Sunday, we again wandered through Ann Arbor, and in one of the indoor malls we found Partners in Wine & Cheese - with a huge amount of cheese in their front window, and an impressive selection of wines! I was in heaven. I roamed around the various aisles, and found to my additional delight that this was not merely a "Wine Spectator Best Buy" shop. In fact, the owner, Karl Johnson, takes a special delight in stocking special and unique wines. He tries every one he brings in, and spent quite a while with us explaining the tastes of various wines, and deliberating with us over what would go best with our dinner tonight.

In the end, we grabbed three Michigan wines - a red, a white, and a dessert, plus one Australian red for back-up. Our friends Dan & Liz plan on revisiting him many times, and I wish he was located a little closer to our home. He was an incredible resource for good wine information. We continued roaming around, then headed home.

Soon, it got to be time for dinner. We first had an Old Mission Winery 1998 Semi-Dry Cranberry Riesling from Traverse City, Michigan. Old Mission is actually the old name of the winery - they are now officially Peninsula Cellars. We had the wine with a selection of sage cheese and Gruyere cheese. It was very light, with a waft of the cranberry flavor - a great complement to the cheese, and perfect for the heat wave that was hitting Michigan at the time. Easy to drink, and "innocuous" was the word suggested.

Chateau Chantal Then, the main course. Beef fondue (in oil) dinner with delicious sauces and vegetables. We didn't want anything too hearty because of the heat. The 1997 Zafarana Pinot Noir was quite a good match, with flavors of strawberry and cherry to it - not too heavy, but strong enough to hold against the various peanut and BBQ sauces, and other flavors in the meal. Zafarana is created by Chateau Chantal, and is a special label for a particular grape grower.

And finally, dessert - a Peninsula Cellars Melange - dessert cherry wine with grape spirits, at 18% alcohol. Again, Peninsula Cellars is the new name for Old Mission. The half bottle tasted of black cherry, but also banana and apricot. One taster smelled a bit of old mouldy board in it - usually a sign of corking - but the rest of us could not sense that. We all enjoyed this, and even tried mixing in a bit of grapefruit juice and sparkling water (separately) to see how it would lighten out the wine.

We left for Niagara Ontario to sample ice wines the next morning, but the memory of those delicious Michigan wines will stay with us for quite a while. We definitely intend to return again, this time to get up to Traverse City and do quite a few more winery visits!

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.