Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking the Fall and All

As the first crisp notes of Fall whirl around us, we start to think about years ago, things past, and nostalgia often sets in. This is not bad, especially for those of us over 45 years of age, as we have so much to remember and ponder over.

For me, the last ten years of starting a winery has many fond memories and lessons learned. But the point of matter is I have never seen a better year for grapes here in Indiana. What I am wondering is, 2009 was a tremendous year for apples and we are introducing this weekend the new vintage of both KOKOMO CIDER and INDIANA APPLE, unquestionably the best batch of apple wines I have ever made. So how will 2010 be?

So, in a few weeks I will head out to see the Hainlens at the orchard just outside of Converse to order the 2010 apple juice we will turn into next year’s apple wine. The late summer has been very dry. Will that cause a more intense flavor in the apple? Or did the heat keep the fruit from maturing and the lack of rain allow the acids to be out of balance with the sweetness? Only time will tell…

A few weeks ago we did a loop around Jackson, Michigan and hit four of the wineries on the Pioneer Wine Trail as a kind of scouting trip for a possible bus tour up there. The first stop was SLEEPING BEAR winery, right on I-94, in what was formerly a tasting room outlet for St Julian’s Winery based in Paw Paw. They are new and just have an initial offering of wines, but had some winners that were very good. Now, they take what some will call a “cutsy” approach to wine, using cartoon characters on their labels, but the wine stands up well. The 2009 Vignoles and the Cab Franc were both very tasty.

Next stop was SAND HILL CRANE vineyards and they had a huge tasting list and insisted we try every one! They had a superb 2006 dry Traminette; a Sassy Rose’ made with dry Cab Franc; and the Vignoles Pyment, just kissed by a dash of Michigan honey, all were excellent choices.

In the small town of Tecumseh, we found PENTAMERE winery, saying they are an “urban” winery. Located in a historic building with an open wine-making area with elevated walkway for tours, I’d say they are right, in a small-town kinda-way. I want to highlight their Morningstar, made with Seyval Blanc and Pinot Gris, plus their Michigan Cherry, a semi-dry wine I thought said “cherry” without messing the thought up!

Our last stop for the day was the very popular CHERRY CREEK CELLARS, the busiest winery we visited. Being a red wine drinker, I loved their Pinot Noir, but the people with me approved strongly of their wines named Jazz, a red wine and raspberry (!!!) blend; and a off-dry red, La Mia Famiglia. It took some time to get in and out of their small, brick school-house, tasting room, but the wine was worth it.

We missed the other four due to time constraints, but will plan on going up to see what else the area wineries’ offer. I have been asked before about a Michigan winery tour, but we generally go out in March (too early to go north) and August, a much nicer time to visit Michigan. So we’ll talk and see what we can put together for the Summer 2010 Bus Tour. We have tentatively set SE Indiana as out 2011 Spring Winery Bus Tour destination, returning to Madison and the surrounding countryside. If you’d like to get email notices iof our bus tours, send us an email with the subject line BUS TOURS and we will get you a notice when available.

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