It has become an annual tradition for my wife (Casey) and I to take our girls to South Haven, Michigan to stay with her side of the family for a week of fun. This is right near the heart of the Lake Michigan Shore AVA. Casey, myself, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law take a day to visit the wineries of southwest Michigan in the Berrien Springs and Buchanan areas.
We started our trip at Hickory Creek. This winery is one of the farthest south of the tour and we had only been there once before. We were instantly greeted by our wonderful, friendly hostess, Linsay. She was quick to tell us that there is a $5 fee for five tastes but “I usually serve more than that.” I knew immediately that it was going to be a great visit.
The first wine was the 2011 Pinot Gris. This wine has been highly awarded. With a nose of flowers, fresh spring, and lots of fruit, this Pinot Gris ranks right with the best of the Pacific Northwest.
Next was the 2012 Gruner Veltliner. This is an Austrian grape that you won’t find too many examples of in the Midwest. It was very pleasing with notes of hay and white pepper.
There were two offerings of Chardonnay; the 2010 Zero Oak and the 2011 Oaked. The 2010 was more acidic with passion fruit while the 2011 was smooth and creamy with stone fruit, honey, and hints of the oak. The group unanimously voted for the buttery, oaky version.
Moving on to the reds, the 2012 Cab Franc Rosé was poured. This had much more body than your typical rosé. It was a little darker in color and very flavorful, noting vanilla and strawberry.
Two Pinot Noirs followed with a 2009 and a 2010. What a difference one vintage can make! The 2009 was fruity and peppery. The 2010 was more earthy and smoky. Both were very fine examples and the group chose the 2009 as their favorite.
We finished with a pair of Cab Francs. The 2008 is the epitome of this varietal as a standalone; nose of cherry and coffee with smoke and pepper on the palate and soft tannins. This grape is so good, I don’t know why there aren’t more single varietal bottlings outside of the Midwest. The last wine is a non-vintage lightly sweetened Cab Franc called Rouge Doux. It brings loads of blackberries with balanced sweetness and acidity.
Hickory Creek offers an extensive list of quality wines, some of which I did not have a chance to mention. This is certainly a must-stop winery if you are in the area or want to make a special visit. Come see Linsay. She makes Hickory Creek Winery what a wine tasting experience is all about!