Looking for romantic trip ideas?
Why not consider Michigan Wineries?
Michigan's wine country is pure enchantment--not to mention a supplier of some high quality wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Johannisberg Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, and the French-American hybrid grape varieties Aurore, Chancellor, Rose de Chaunac, Chelois, Cascade, Vignoles, Soleil Blanc, and Seyval Blanc.
Michigan wines have won awards, growing as they do across 13,500 acres, their grapes harvested, pressed, fermented, and bottled by over 50 different Michigan wineries.
Workers weed the vineyards at Michigan wineries in the humid heat of July, then pick the grapes in sometimes wintry conditions in the late Autumn (those from outside the northern MidWest need to understand that Winter comes early and Spring comes late to this region).
Although Michigan wines have been around since before the turn of the century, the current Michigan commercial wine industry probably began in 1965 with Bernie Rink's conversion of a baseball diamond on his property to a vineyard. Inspired by a book titled 'American Wines and Winemaking' by Phil Wagner (no relation to Honus, as far as this writer knows), Rink decided to try his hand at cultivating grapes for wine-making purposes on his 16 acres in the center of Michigan's "little finger", Leelanau County, the "finger" that juts out into northern Lake Michigan. A retired Michigan State University chemistry professor named Bob Herbst worked with Rink and joined him with experimental hybrid grape growing vineyards of his own in 1971, over on the cooler eastern shore of Lake Michigan.
In 1975, Rink established Boskydel Vineyard, which was the first bonded wine cellar in Leelanau County. Rink owned 56 acres of land. 25 acres were used for the growing of the wine grapes. Boskydel is still producing wine today, and bottles about 6500 gallons per year. Bernie Rink likes to say, "If you grow good grapes, the wine will make itself."
Local cherry grower Chuck Kalchik and his partner, attorney Mike Jacobson, along with vintner Nate Stackhouse, established Leelanau Wine Cellars, Ltd in 1977. Leelanau Wine Cellars is most well knownf for its cherry wine, and sells a great deal of it in Traverse City, the "Cherry Capital of the World." Leelanau Wine Cellars is to this day the largest winery on the Leelanau Peninsula.
State Governor James Blanchard formed the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council in 1985, with Bernie Rink serving on it as one of the founding members. Today, Michigan wineries and related industries employ well over 5000 people and pay nearly $200 million in annual compensation to those employees. They produce about $800 million in total economic value to the state of Michigan.
In addition to those mentioned above, some of the very best Michigan wineries are the following.
*Mackinaw Trail Winery -- In the heart of the Upper Peninsula. Owner and winemaker, Raffael Stabile, makes use of Old World techniques learned from his Italian immigrant heritage, but utilizes state of the art expertise to create magnificent fruit-forward wines. Their bests are a crisp and refreshing un-oaked Chardonnay, a tantalizing, fruity Cabernet Franc, and their flagship blend called Big Red, which is a semi-dry with a soft flavor and texture.
*Threefold Vine Winery -- Owned and operated by the Green family, who carefully cultivate their full-bodied wines on their Southern Upper Peninsula farm with its orchard and bee yard as well as the vineyard. The "Garden Peninsula" features cool Springs but warm Autumns to go along with loam soils spread over fragmented limestone bedrock that allow for the creation of crisp wines loaded with overtones.
*Uncle John's Fruit House Winery -- In the central south-east of Michigan, this homey vineyard housed in an 85-year-old restored fruit packing house mixes specializes in fruit wines, hard ciders, and Perrys. They also make and sell traditional grape varieties, including the vintner's favorite, the sweet white Gewurztraminer.
*Karma Vista Vineyards -- Situated on top of one of the highest hills in Berrien County in Coloma, MI, in the south-west of the state, Karma Vista specializes in unique proprietary blends. These include local and state favorites Starry Starry White, Pink Side of the Moon, Moondance Merlot, and Cha Cha Chardonnay.
*Chateau Chantal Winery (and B&B) -- Among the numerous wineries found in the north-west of the state, and one of the newest, this Old Mission Peninsula winery (and one of our favorites!) offers majestic views of the East and West Grand Traverse Bays. More than just a winery, this is a romantic Old World retreat which includes the winery along with a vineyard, bed and breakfast, residence, and six private homesites. The grapes they grow are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Meuni. (Try the Late Harvest Riesling--It is the best!)
Photo courtesy of smiles7.
Visiting Chanteau Chantal, and the array of wineries that have emerged in Michigan's original commercial winegrowing region (this is where you find Boskydel, Leelanau, and L. Mawby, which was established in 1978), is one wondrous wine-centered romantic trip idea for visiting or touring Michigan. You could take a tour of B&Bs that feature Michigan wines; one of the most notable is Albion's Palmer House Inn, which is located on the Pioneer Wine Trail in the southern part of the state and features the wines of Cherry Creek Cellars.
The northeast's Thunder Bay Resort will serve you as many as seven different Michigan wines with your dinner (served in a log cabin and cooked on woodburning stoves) and before that you can take a carriage ride through the woods to look for elk. Now THAT's romantic.
Experienced cyclists Jon and Sarah Swanso take people on bicycle rides through wine country and take rest stops several local vineyards with their Manitou Cycling Tours. Ah, wine country en plein aire.
Don't feel like cycling or driving, or looking for elk from a carriage? First off, Fruitful Vine Custom Tours gives chartered limousine trips to vineyards all throughout Michigan’s wine region to the southwest. But then again, who says you need to travel by land when you're near the Great Lakes? Tall Ship is located in the Cherry Capital of the World, and it owns and operates the traditionally rigged schooner Manitou, which at 114 feet tall is one of the largest sailing vessels on the Lakes. Leelanau Cellars (not surprisingly) supplies them the bulk of their wine, and they give wine-tasting cruises on summer evenings.
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