It was quite the winter in Southwest Michigan. In fact, it was the coldest 4 months in recorded history. We lost count of the number of snowstorms that blanketed us in drifts, extending over most of our baby vines. That snow may have insulated and saved those vines, but to what extent we have yet to determine. We weren’t alone. I just finished reading the news of the disaster zone established for the Finger Lakes region. It breaks my heart to think of all the work that has gone into nourishing those vines, only to be wiped out while farmers must sit by helplessly. Let’s hope it’s not quite as dire for our AVA.
While the vineyard slept, we were propelled to visit friends and family in different wine producing regions, and escape our bitter cold and gloom. A December trip to central and eastern Europe revitalized our enthusiasm for winemaking from vinifera. In Germany, we made sure to try Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and lots of locally created holiday Glühwein at Christkindlmarkets in Bavaria, Franconia and Saxony. In Hungary, we tried dry and sweet Tokaji with Mangalista ham and other local specialties. And in Austria, we visited Burgenland and a centuries old farm, spending an afternoon sampling Blaufrankisch, Cabernet Franc and Grüner Veltliner with the winemaker. Our passion was reignited! We also realized how favorably our AVA’s wine compares with these areas of Europe.
In March, we made our annual trip to California’s Paso Robles area to see what was new in this burgeoning region. There has been a shift away from a focus on Zinfandel towards Rhone varieties. One of our favorite memories was meeting a winemaker who served us in his kitchen. Eric, our microbiologist educated winemaker, was impressed by these wines using wild yeast for fermentation. Paso Robles has its own challenges this year given the severe drought conditions – the worst since the 1920’s. Since we visited in March, they have been receiving some rainfall and we hope they are able to pull through and have a healthy harvest. We really appreciated sampling the wines of this region with its depth of fruit and full body characteristics that can come from this terroir.
All in all, we are recharged and ready to ramp up for the season. We are about to release several new wines, including the return of our semi-dry apple wine. This vintage was created using heirloom varieties of apples from Lehman’s Orchard in Niles, MI. As many of you may recall, we ran out of the previous vintage as there wasn’t an apple harvest in 2012 due to that previous spring’s freeze. We are also about to release our 2012 Chardonnay aged in French Oak, our 2009 Cabernet Franc, and our 2009 Mélange Bordeaux style blend. Our wine club members will be the first to try with their shipment in May!
We can’t wait to see you and share some of our small production wines crafted from local vinifera in our tasting room!