After a great first day at Toast of the Season, how would the wineries of Day 2 compare? On the second day, we visited several more vineyards and had some exceptional food and wine pairings out on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Our first stop on the wine trail (9th for the weekend) was Brengman Brothers Vineyards. We began with their Riesling Med Dry paired with a vanilla cream puff with caramel. The Riesling had a sour taste, maybe a hint of grapefruit that went well with the cream puff. We sampled several wines here. The White Wine (yes, that was the name) was excellent. The Late Harvest Riesling had a nice flavor, with hints of honey and apricot. I had to try some cherry wines over the weekend since that’s one of the things Traverse City is famous for. The cherry wine here was both sweet and tart with a nice finish. We concluded this stop with their Runaway Hen Syrah. It was peppery with a dark chocolate finish and paired with a spicy chili. Chilis seemed to be a favorite for wine pairings because of the acidity in the tomatoes.
The next stop on our tour was Chateau de Leelanau. We also had chili here paired with the Solem Farm Red, a peppery yet still slightly sweet wine. My favorite wine here was the Riesling Harvest Select, which contained a blend of citrus, pear, and peach to form a light, everyday kind of wine. The was one of the wines I purchased over the weekend.
The third stop on the wine trail was Willow Winery. The pairing here was amazing. We were served a 2011 Reserve Pinot Grigio along with a vanilla pumpkin square topped with butterscotch fondue and whip cream. This may have been one of the best desserts I’ve ever had! To top it off, this winery was set up on a hill and provided some excellent views over Grand Traverse Bay. See if you agree.
Our next stop I have mixed reviews about. At Ciccone Winery, the atmosphere of the place was really nice. However, I can’t say the same about their wines. In my opinion, the wines I tasted ranged from OK down to I took a sip and dumped the rest out. I would skip this one on your next Leelanau wine tour.
Coming up on the conclusion of our wine tasting weekend, our next stop was to L. Mawby Winery. They make a wide variety of sparkling wines. Our first sample was their Blanc de Noir Sparkling paired with dried apple slices with sharp cheddar. This sparkling wine was a bit dry for me. I tried another called Fizz, which was described as candied smooth jazz. Even though I’m not big on sparkling wines, I really enjoyed this one.
Last, but not least, and one of my favorites of the weekend was Black Star Farms. I had quite a few very good wines here. We began with the Red House Red paired with a pork and lamb cassoulet. Here were a few of my favorites. The 2011 Arcturos Dry Riesling was a medium-bodied wine with spicy apricot and pear flavors. The 2011 Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay was a stainless-steel aged wine, giving the vanilla hints a nice, clean finish. Again, the Late Harvest Riesling was one of the best as I found at quite a few of the wineries. While some of the dessert wines I tried were a bit too sweet, I found that the Maple and Red Dessert Wines were phenomenal. With the Red Dessert Wine, you eat a piece of a chocolate bar and sip the wine. The chocolate mixes with the dark berry spice and hints of mocha to create a wonderful sensation in your mouth.
Throughout the weekend, I had a great time and tasted a lot of spectacular Michigan wines. Next time you’re in the Traverse City area, or anywhere in Northern Michigan for that matter, a wine tour through the many wineries in the Leelanau Peninsula is highly recommended. Here’s a Toast to the Season!
Disclosure: My complementary tickets for Toast of the Season were provided by the Leelanau Vintners Association; however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.