After much research on Michigan’s different AVA’s, we finally decided this fall that it was time to visit the Leelanau Peninsula. What ultimately made us commit to the trip was the article by the USA Today naming the Leelanau Peninsula AVA the 3rd best wine region to visit in the USA. After visiting, we can see why the USA Today is so excited about what’s happening in this up and coming wine destination.
Home to around 30 wineries and close to 700 acres of wine grapes, this region is without a doubt starting to hit its stride. Most wineries are family run operations and it is common to see the owner being the winemaker, the vineyard manager or at the cash register checking you out. This rare occurrence, especially in today’s day and age, gives you the unique opportunity to get a real sense of the wineries true soul.
During our visit it was amazing to see the diversity of vinifera grapes being grown in the region, but what was exciting was the quality of the wines being made from these fruit. While visiting, we tasted really good wines being made from many grapes, including some from uncommon grapes like Blaufränkisch and Auxerrois, but it was clear to us that the grapes and wines that are really starting to be the backbone of the AVA are Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Riesling. We also tasted some exceptional Merlot, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Franc blend that was absolutely delicious.
Perhaps the success of this wine region is it’s location. As you might know the 45th Parallel runs through some of the best wine regions in the world including the Leelanau Peninsula. Interestingly enough it runs through the vineyards of Forty-Five North Winery and Vineyard who is making some really exciting wines.
With challenging weather and often short growing seasons the work that vineyard managers and winemakers are doing is to be admired. The biggest challenge seems to be getting the fruit to ripen while avoiding rot. The wines in the region to us, for the most part, tasted smooth throughout the palate with nice fruit and a great sense of freshness.
Some of of the highlights of our visit were an amazing food and wine pairing dinner, featuring Boathouse Vineyards and Blustone Winery wines, at the Historic Leland Lodge and visits to Bel Lago Winery, Blustone Winery, Forty-Five North Winery and Vineyard, Rove Estate and Shady Lane Cellars.
After our trip we are true believers in what’s happening in this region and without a doubt will be back. Thanks for the amazing hospitality to all of the people that welcomed us during our visit. You have a special place to call home!
Cheers! 🍷 #WineDestinations