Thursday, August 5, 2010

Visit to Michigan Lakeshore Wineries and Indiana's Satek Winery

Our wine correspondents Josh and Casey Kessler are at it again with another great report of their trip to five Michigan Lakeshore wineries and one in Indiana. Pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy!

Casey and I spent the last half of last week in South Haven, MI for our annual vacation with her family. Boy are there some great wineries out there! I believe there are about 12 wineries on the tour, but we were only able to get to five of them. I thought I'd share a quick rundown of our experience while there....

Domaine Berrien Cellars:
This place had the best selection of any one we visited. I was really surprised to see Viognier on their list. I'm told they are the only winery in Michigan to grow both Viognier and Marsanne. Although the Viognier was on the dry white list, I thought it was lightly sweet; similar to a semi-dry Riesling. I'm not quite sure why I didn't buy a bottle of this because it was wonderful. I took home bottles of Lemberger (not one you see too often either) and a bottle of 2007 Wolf's Prairie Red. This is another unique bottle, as it contains an oaked, fruity blend of deChaunac and Chelois grapes. Very good!

Lemon Creek Winery:
Here I tried several of the usual reds: Merlot, Cab Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. All were great wines. I took home a bottle of Lighthouse White because I enjoy a semi-sweet wine made from Seyval Blanc grapes. I really wanted to sample the 2007 Moon Shadow ice wine, but they were not sampling it that day.. This is the only known ice wine in the country made from Cabernet Sauvignon.

Round Barn Winery and Brewery:
Everyone enjoys free tastings, but here you get a lot for your $7.50 charge. You are given a tasting glass, 6 tastes, a token for a refund of your tasting price if you purchase 3 or more bottles, a token for a free taste in the brewery, and a shot of their own diVine vodka made from grapes! This vodka beat Grey Goose in a taste test. Here we took home a bottle each of their semi-sweet red and white blends; the Redel Doux and the Edel Doux.

Free Run Cellars:
This winery is owned by the same family as Round Barn. The charge and all of the perks are the same, except you can use them in either place. The tastings were free because we already had a glass from Round Barn. Casey bought three bottles at Round Barn to get our money for tastings back, and I used my token here to purchase three more bottles. It wasn't about getting the money back, we thoroughly enjoyed their wine! This was the only winery in Michigan that I've seen Zinfandel. I know this area (Berrien Springs) has one of the best climates in the midwest for growing vinifera grapes, but I don't know if they are grown locally or not. The highlight here for me was the Syrah.

Fenn Valley Winery:
Towards the end of the week, we made our usual trip to Fenn Valley. This has been our favorite winery for a few years now. They have been around since the early 1970's, so they have a little more experience than the others. I called a week ahead of time to schedule an extended tour. They sell out quickly. This involves riding a wagon around the vineyard and sampling 11 different wines in a provided tasting glass, all for $8! As you tour the vineyard, a stop is made at the site of each varietal and one can sample a wine from that grape. Last year the reds were sampled in the cellar, with some being tasted directly from the barrels with a "thief". This year the whole tour was in the vineyard. It was an all-around wonderful experience. I purchased several bottles here because everything is good! The shining star seemed to be the Capriccio, which is a blend of 85% Chambourcin and 15% Cab Franc for a little extra finish. Awesome stuff!

Satek Winery:
Lastly, we detoured home and ended up at Satek Winery in Fremont, IN. We got caught in a heavy backup in Battle Creek, so being the impatient person that I am, I decided to take an alternate route home. Route 69 took us to Fremont. I remember telling Casey, "You know, there is another good little winery here that I've been hearing about." We took a wrong turn off the interstate, and right there in front of us was a sign for Satek. I said it must be fate, so we stopped in. They were very generous, allowing ten pours. Growing many varietals of grapes in this area is a little more challenging, thus their grapes come from all over, but mostly close to home in the midwest. I was very impressed with the Merlot, but I just had to get a bottle of the Chambourcin. This has become one of my favorites. After all of our visits, it wasn't easy fitting almost two cases of wine in the car with all of our luggage :)

We've gotten to enjoy a lot of wine experiences this summer, so I like to pass them on.

Josh and Casey we're glad you did!

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