The last of our winery stops on a whirlwind tour of Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan was a bit abbreviated, because we were trying to get back to the resort for dinner. I have to say that Brengman Brothers requires another trip, as it was the first time that I had been there, and it will not be my last. I can’t tell you honestly if we were in a bit of a hurry, or the people that were helping us do our tasting were just going through the motions, but there was much more to discover there, and I only discovered it after the fact. Brengman Brothers has signage that says “Truth in Dirt” as a way of explaining terroir to the unknowing. They have three different vineyards and four different wine collections.
The largest of the vineyards is Timberlee Vineyard at thirty acres. On this property they grow Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Muscat Ottonel is a breed of Muscat that is the palest of that family in color and aroma, but it is more adaptable to the cold; hence it does very well in Eastern Europe and Canada. The next in size is Crain Hill Vineyard and is twenty-two acres in size is where the tasting room is found, and there they grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Rotgipfler, and Muscat New York. Rotgipfler is an Austrian grape that is a cross between the Traminer and Rote Veltliner, and is high in acid and is susceptible to frost, but it is spicy and when grown and picked properly has also been used for Late Harvest wines, like Spᾂtlese and Beerenauslese. Muscat New York is a hybrid moderate Cold Hardy grape that is a cross between Muscat Hamburg and Ontario that was developed at Cornel. The smallest of the their lands is Cedar Lake Vineyards at four and one half acres where they grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
They have four different labels, each with a different goal. The pentagon label Brengman Brothers Label is where their best clusters of grapes are used and are there Estate wines. In this series that offer a Block 65 Blend 2013 of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Gris. Dagῢdscht 2013 which they pronounce as Da Good Shit is a blend of 14 grapes and since they have fifteen grapes that they grow, it is a proprietary blend. They had three different vintages of their Gewurztraminer, and three different Riesling wines, a dry, a medium and a Beerenauslese. The Runaway Hen Label is named for the guinea hens that patrol the vineyards and are considered good and reliable. In this collection there was a Pinot Gris 2013, a 2013 White Wine that is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verduzzo, and a 2012 Red Wine that is a blend of Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Nathaniel Rose Private Label features artistic labels and are small batch artisan wines using older winemaking techniques. Here they offered a 2013 Chardonnay “unoaked” and an oak version, and a 2013 Pinot Noir. They also carry the Valpanera Label made with Refosco grapes from their sister winery located in Friuli- Venezie Giulia wine region in Italy. The Refosco grape is a very ancient and dark grape that goes back to the times of the Romans and for years was harvested as a table wine, but it is starting to make some inroads in the wine world again. In this collection they had a 2008 Riserva Refosco , a 2008 Alma DOC a blend of Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a 2010 Superiore and a 2012 Refosco Classico. So as you can see from all the different wines that they offered I could not really do this winery justice, though we did some tastings and more importantly, we did not leave empty handed, and I look forward to the next I can spend more time there.