According to the Wine Lovers Calendar the week of October 11 to 17 is the “Drink Local Wine Week.” I think that it is a noble cause and one worth paying attention to. I notice that most of the new restaurants are promoting the concept of buying local produce and meats whenever possible, and living here in Michigan, the concept of fresh fish from the Great Lakes has been promoted since I can remember. So why not drink local? I mean if I lived in Carmel or Yountville or Bordeaux or Avignone, I would be drinking the local wines. As I said I live in Michigan and I have touted the local wines before, and I will again, when I can.
This program made me think of a recent side trip my Bride and I made, not too long ago, when we were returning from a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which I have not even had a chance to discuss yet. On the way home, I mentioned that I had never been to Jackson, Michigan and since I knew that there were a couple of wineries in Jackson, we should stop and at least visit one on our way home. When people think of Michigan wines, when they do, they normally think of the Traverse City area of the state, which used to be all cherry orchards and is now the center of viniculture. While it may be the largest center of activity, there are pioneers in this state that are striving to make wine in other parts of the state as well, and Jackson is almost mid-state. We ended up at Sandhill Crane Vineyards. Not only are they a winery, but they had a delightful café on the premises for a surprising and satisfying lunch while we were there. We shared a plate of Local Smoked Trout Spread with cucumber slices and baguette slices. The my Bride had the “Magic Mushroom” which was goat cheese and sun dried tomato spread, sautéed portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts and kale on rustic Italian panini. While I had “Maggie’s Club” a toasted rustic Italian bread with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, provolone and guacamole. We had lunch after the wine tasting, and bought a bottle of wine to have with lunch.
The winery offered twenty-seven different wines, some were from fruit other than grapes, but I am sure that they have a following for them as well, but I was interested in the grapes. Sandhill Crane Vineyards offered wines made from the classic grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. They also offered wines made from some of the Cold-Hardy grapes that are safer and popular in the Mid-west and the North-Eastern states. There were wines made from Vignoles, Traminette, Noiret, Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Frontenac, Chardonel and Chambourcin. There was even a wall that showed the medals they had won, laid on top of the bottle that had caused the win. They may be a smaller winery, but they were proud of what they have accomplished and of their future goals. We tried several different wines including their Pinot Grigio 2013, which were as good as some house wines in restaurants that I have had. Their Proprietor’s Reserve Traminette, is estate grown, barrel-fermented and left on the lees for five months, and aged for ten months in toasted oak. The Noiret 2012 had that special pepper taste that I have discovered that I really like in that wine. We tried some of their Veranda, mead that they make from estate grapes and local honey (and there is that word local again). We tried one of their dessert wines Sweet Ellie 2012; a blend of late harvested Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles and Chardonel. I also tried tastings of their two “Port Wines.” The “840” is made from their Frontenac and Chambourcin grapes aged in both American and French Oak barrels. The “840 Reserve” has been aged for four years, and only one barrel is available every four to five years. After the tasting we selected a bottle of Legacy 2013 which is an off dry blend of Chardonnay and Vignoles and it was very crisp and was enjoyable with our lunch. Sandhill Crane Vineyards donates four dollars from the sale of every bottle of Legacy to the Legacy Land Conservancy, which is now a thirty-seven year old accredited land trust. Drinking local, just like dining local works very well, and can be so appreciated especially when they are done by dedicated individuals and should be supported as often as possible.