Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall color is spreading in Upper Peninsula, says AAA

Michigan’s annual fall color show is slowly spreading across the western Upper Peninsula, with one-quarter to one-half of the trees now showing fair to good color. The peak in the U.P. is expected in early to mid-October, reports AAA Michigan, slightly later than last year.

AAA’s weekly survey of state parks and regional visitor’s bureaus shows a splash of color in most areas of the U.P. Naturalists at Porcupine Mountain State Park near Ontonagon and Van Riper State Park in Ishpeming report color development as high as 50 or 60 percent in those regions, with plenty of red, yellow and orange hues to complete the palette. Color development from 15-25 percent is reported in Calumet, Cedar River, Copper Harbor, Crystal Falls, Manistique, Sault Ste. Marie and Tahquamenon.

In the Northern Lower Peninsula, colors are just beginning to turn in East Tawas, Harrisville, Mackinaw City, Manistee, Petoskey and Rogers City.

For the rest of the state, the predominant color remains green.

Fall color watchers looking for the best viewing opportunities can call Travel Michigan at (888) 78-GREAT (784-7328) for color updates provided by AAA Michigan each Wednesday through October. Updates also will be posted at (enter ZIP code, click NEWS/SAFETY tab), or visit

Before hitting the roadways on your fall color tour, visit for the latest traffic conditions and construction taking place on your route.

Jim Rink

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nightmare Awaits - Nightmare at Challenge Mountain

(BOYNE FALLS, Mich) -- Hidden in the fog covered hills of Boyne Falls lies a creepy castle that once was a ski lodge. The castle awaits you with terrifying things that are looking for you. When you arrive, you are immediately greeted by creatures that come out only at a special time each year. These things lure you to the castle where your nightmare begins.

A slow trip through the mist takes you back in history to some of our most frightening of times. The Salem Witch Trials show you there is no way out. Lizzie Borden stalks you and you run. Through a drain maze of spiders, bats, and even a dog man you seek your escape. But to no avail. You come to a line that leads you to of all places, a haunted basement. The basement is filled with horror beyond your wildest fears. As you run, finally you reach the outside only to take a trip through what you think is a place to relax, aaaahhh, fairy tales. Only these fairy tales are definitely not like the ones you were read as a child. Quickly you hear things breathing close by. Oh what could they be… Run, run, faster, faster, don’t look back it might get you!

Challenge Mountain is the place in the hidden fog covered hills and the 7th annual Nightmare at Challenge Mountain is set to begin on Friday, October 3 and will run each Friday and Saturday in October including Halloween from 7-10pm.

Challenge Mountain is located at 2205 Springbrook Rd., Boyne Falls, MI. The cost for the Nightmare is only $10 for adults and children are just 2 for $5 accompanied by an adult. Each ticket is a season pass meaning you can come as many times as you want. You never know what you might miss.

For more information or driving directions you can visit and click on Nightmare as you enter the website or call 231-582-1186. Plan to attend if you are brave enough, but be afraid, be very afraid.

Sue Moody, Executive Director

Monday, September 15, 2008

Celebrate Oktoberfest at Rochester Mills Beer Co

(ROCHESTER, Mich) – Following a tradition that started in the early 1800s in Munich, Germany, Rochester Mills Beer Company invites you to partake in its Annual Oktoberfest festivities – and you needn’t be German or travel halfway around the world to do so. This family-friendly celebration, September 26-27, features German-style food and beer under a huge American-made tent. Come join more than 2,000 of your closest friends and family who are expected to enjoy the live music, dancing and children’s activities taking place behind the brewery during the two-day extravaganza.

Kids will get a kick out of carnival games, moonwalks, pony rides, petting zoo, clowns, balloon artists, tattoo artists and new this year, a charity dunk tank. Those young at heart can participate in the popular sauerkraut-eating contest or be entertained by traditional German music and dancing. Musical performances by renowned German bands “Enzian” (Friday and Saturday from 6-10pm) and “the Vagabonds” (Saturday from 1-4pm), along with a special appearance by the Carpathia Dancers.

Head Brewer Eric Briggeman has prepared fresh batches of Rochester Mills’ Oktoberfest (German-style lager), Water Street Wheat (German-style Hefe-Weizen), and Harvest Lite (American-style light beer) to be offered under the tent.

The tent is open from 5-11pm on Friday and from 1-11pm on Saturday. Admission is only $5 for adults; children 16 and under get in free (with a paid adult). All proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the YMCA North Oakland County Waves swim club.

A full menu and selection of beers on tap will be available inside the brewery during the event. No cover live entertainment inside the brewery features “the Square Pegz” on Friday and “Spirit of ’76” on Saturday, both starting at 10pm.

For more information, call 248-650-5080 or log onto

The Rochester Mills Beer Co. opened in 1998 in Downtown Rochester. Located in the historic Western Knitting Mill, the brewery is located on Water Street, just two blocks east of Main Street. Preserving the original character of the building, the brewery features original hardwood floors, columns, beams and exposed brick walls of the mill.

The menu features a broad selection of eclectic American cuisine, all prepared with the freshest ingredients. From delectable appetizers, fresh salads, pizzas and pastas to delicious entrees and unique sandwiches, the menu has something for everyone including the kids.

Special amenities include an outdoor patio, pool tables, Acoustic Night every Thursday starting at 9pm, and live entertainment every Friday, and Saturday nights. The Martini Lounge is available for private parties.

Rochester Mills Beer Co. is a Pleszure Food Group company and a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

David Youngman
Pleszure Food Group

Michigan’s M-22 Color Tour Route Explores One of America’s Great Scenic Drives

(NORTHWEST MICHIGAN) – The changing of the leaves to brilliant shades of gold, amber and garnet is an invitation to head north and explore the magnificent fall season among the rolling hills and coastal villages of Northwest Michigan

The premier route, which follows M-22 through Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau Counties, has been rated one of the top five greatest driving tours in America by Rand McNally. Officially designated as a State of Michigan Scenic Route, this spectacular scenic byway is now featured online at

“We’re a four season destination, but there’s no question that autumn is a personal favorite of many locals and visitors alike,” said Judy Ball, Executive Director of Manistee County Convention & Visitors Bureau “There’s just something special about the changing of the seasons in Northwest Michigan and we hope people will visit us to experience it for themselves.”

Traveling through quaint harbor towns, such as Manistee, Frankfort, Beulah and Glen Arbor, the M-22 Fall Color Tour route skirts the Lake Michigan shoreline and the bluffs, dunes and beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Along the way, visitors are introduced to unique galleries, vintage antiques, world-class restaurants, award-winning wineries and historic orchards and farms.

Visitors are welcomed by the sound of rustling leaves and the crispness of the autumn air, where Michigan’s most colorful season awaits with open arms. Recreational opportunities, such as championship golf, biking, paddling, fishing and even soaring the skies above the trees, are available to visitors looking to experience the fall color season from a different perspective.

Visitors can also expect to find value-filled packages and special seasonal lodging rates, as well as a cornucopia of fall festivals and harvest celebrations that the whole family will enjoy. What’s more, the M-22 Color Tour is a one tank trip for many in the Midwest, making it an affordable day-trip or weekend get-away for those wishing to escape to escape to this quite Northwest Michigan refuge.

“Visitors will find interesting shops, galleries, wineries, exquisite dining, superb recreational activities and comfortable accommodations along the way,” says Jamie Jewell, Representative of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau. “It’s a wonderful way to enjoy fall color in northern Michigan.”

The M-22 Color Tour is a collaborative effort of the Benzie County Visitors Bureau, the Manistee County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau, who banded together earlier this summer to pool resources and marketing dollars to promote the fall color route that traverses through their counties. In addition to the website –, the group printed 10,000 rack cards which are being distributed in their respective offices, at businesses throughout the area and at State of Michigan Welcome Centers.

“Being able to cooperate with other small bureaus like ours gives us a greater opportunity to reach new travelers,” stated Mary Carroll, Executive Director of the Benzie County Visitors Bureau.

Mary Carroll - Benzie County Visitors Bureau
800.882.5801 /

Judy Ball - Manistee County Convention & Visitors Bureau
877.626.4783 / Email:

Jamie Jewell - Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau
888.334.8499 /

Thursday, September 11, 2008

State Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Renowned Michigan Book Anatomy of a Murder by Attorney, Angler John D. Voelker

LANSING - When Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker, writing as Robert Traver, penned Anatomy of a Murder, it became a national bestseller and then a movie starring Jimmy Stewart as a character based on Voelker's experience as a defense attorney in an Upper Peninsula murder trial. This fall, the Library of Michigan and organizations around the state will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Voelker's book, as well as his legacy as an attorney, author and angler.

A series of free events celebrating Voelker and his literary and legal contributions will take place Friday, Sept. 26 and Saturday, Sept. 27 in downtown Lansing. An Upper Peninsula celebration kicks off Sept. 18 in Ishpeming with an exhibit of Voelker memorabilia and personal items. Movie screenings, a concert and other events in Marquette will honor Voelker through Oct. 20.

"Writing as Robert Traver, Justice Voelker flourished, becoming one of our great Michigan storytellers," said State Librarian Nancy Robertson. "As the author of 11 well-loved books, a passionate fly fisherman and a champion of the law, Justice Voelker gained admiration and respect from his readers, his fellow sportsmen and his peers in the legal system. These events celebrate his literary and legal legacy, and his place in Michigan history."

Anniversary events in Lansing include:

-The opening of the exhibit "Justice John D. Voelker: Bard of Frenchman's Pond" at the Michigan Supreme Court Hall of Justice, 925 W. Ottawa St, with a reception starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26.

-A reception and presentation of the Jimmy Stewart stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Anatomy of a Murder will follow the exhibit opening, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 26 at Cooley Law School, Cooley Center Lobby, 300 S. Capitol Ave.

-A daylong event at the Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., on Saturday, Sept. 27 will feature screenings of the films Trout Madness and Anatomy of an Author, along with discussions with the filmmakers; a look at Voelker's courtroom drama Laughing Whitefish; a panel discussion of Anatomy of a Murder and more. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

All the events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Participants may purchase a boxed lunch on Sept. 27 at the Library of Michigan for $7.50. For more information about the anniversary celebration and a complete statewide schedule of events, visit or contact the Library of Michigan at (517) 373-1300 or

The Anatomy of a Murder 50th anniversary celebration is sponsored by Butzel Long; Loomis Law Firm; Dykema; The Reynolds Law Firm, P.C.; Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C.; Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP; Miller Canfield's Criminal Defense Team; Michigan Humanities Council; Sinas Dramis Law Firm; and State Bar of Michigan and Michigan State Bar Foundation.

Events are coordinated by the Library of Michigan, Library of Michigan Foundation, Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center, Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, Cooley Law School, Northern Michigan University and Central U.P. Archives, Peter White Public Library, Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited, Grand Rapids Public Library, Bill Castanier and John D. Voelker Foundation.

The Library of Michigan is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage and fostering cultural creativity, the department also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Historical Center. For more information, visit

Casey Warner
Department of History, Arts and Libraries
(517) 373-5578

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Robinette Cellars Releases Award-Winning Cyser

(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich) – Robinette Cellars, which introduced its first wine in January of 2006, has recently released its newest product. With a 12% alcohol content, Robinette’s Cyser is made with 76% apple cider, 20% apple blossom honey and 2% each of dates and raisins, for a sweet finish.

In late 2007, the Robinette Cyser was entered in the open category in 2007 in the Great Lakes Olde World Syder (GLOWS) competition, where it received a Bronze ranking. It is one of 13 wines available at Robinette’s tasting room at 3142 4-Mile Road NE in Grand Rapids and the third to be made on-site by winemaker Bill Robinette.

The first product to be created entirely at Robinette’s was Barzilla Brew – a hard apple cider named after farm founder Barzilla Robinette. This dry cider, made with estate-grown fruit, received a Bronze ranking at the 2007 GLOWS competition and has become Robinette’s signature product. The next made-on-premise product, a Dessert Apple Wine, is made with apple brandy to provide a 17% alcohol content. This wine received a Silver ranking at the 2007 GLOWS competition.

A selection of 10 dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet wines – all made with Michigan fruits – are crafted by award-winning winemakers throughout the state.

Robinette’s newest product, a semi-sweet Cherry Mead, is being barrel-aged on-site and will be released in 2009. Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage made of honey, water and yeast – also colloquially known as “honey wine.”

Visitors to Robinette Cellars pay $3 per person or $5 per couple for a souvenir wine glass and samples of six of their local wines. The glass can be brought back on future visits for free tastings.

Founded in 1911, Robinette’s is a 5th generation, 125-acre year-round agricultural destination in northern Kent County. In addition to the orchard and winery, Robinette’s offers a cider mill, farm market, horse-drawn wagon rides, mountain biking & cross country ski trails, bakery and full lunch menu. The 1800s Gift Barn features made in Michigan products, such as food items and fine art, as well as holiday decorations, floral arrangements and custom-packaged gift boxes.

Robinette’s holds memberships in the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan Cider Makers Guild, Michigan State Horticultural Society, Kent Harvest Trails, Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association, Local First and West Michigan Tourist Association.

For hours, activities and more information, visit

Contact: Alicia Robinette
616-361-7180 / 800-400-8100

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Porkapalooza – An All Day Local Farm & Harvest Celebration Encourages Everyone to “Save Gas, Eat Pork”

(FENNVILLE, Mich) – A day-long celebration of hog-proportion called PORKAPALOOZA is planned for Saturday, October 4, rain or shine. The farm party and harvest celebration, touting the eco-friendly slogan “Save Gas, Eat Pork,” will benefit The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance. The SDCA will also provide volunteers and expertise to this already green-minded effort.

Local restaurants, Journeyman Café & Rye, are joining forces with New Holland Brewing Company and Fenn Valley Vineyard & Winery to host the event at the 14-acre Red Horse Ranch, located just outside of downtown Fennville, on 62nd Street, ¾ of a mile south of M89. The event, which runs from Noon to Midnight, will feature all things local – live music, pork, produce, beer and wine.

“Those of us involved in PORKAPALOOZA share common ground in our pursuit of quality and our belief in championing local, sustainable lifestyles,” says Fred Bueltmann, Beervangalist at New Holland Brewing. “The event will shine a light on some of the areas treasures, including not only the products available, but the creative energy of many local artisans and musicians. Hosting an 800-plus person event, while sticking to earth-friendly ideals, will showcase some of the realities around sustainable living.”

PORKAPALOOZA attendees will live high on the hog throughout the day, with an on-going menu of pork products from Creswick Farms and Providence Farms including pulled pork on Journeyman sandwich bread with homemade Memphis-style barbecue, homemade bratwurst and sausage, Michigan-made whole grain mustard, corn on the cob, fresh homemade sides, fresh fried chips from Visser Farm potatoes, kosher dill pickles, and for the non-meat lovers, Joel’s famous barbecued tofu, made with China Rose tofu of Ann Arbor. For the sweet tooth, Michigan apples dunked in caramel and scattered with bacon brittle, complete the menu.

Throughout the afternoon, Journeyman Chef Matthew Millar will demonstrate traditional and innovative techniques in preparation for three feature pig presentations: The Eastern American Barbecue & Smokehouse at 2 pm, Luau Pig at 5 pm and La Caja China at 8 pm. Portions of the feature presentations are limited and may be purchased in advance.

2 pm – Eastern American Barbecue & Smokehouse: Sample the lesser know Carolina and Appalachian style barbecue. Pork shoulder, ribs and loin will be hot smoked and “mopped” with a tangy vinegar and mustard sauce, foregoing tomatoes. Served with skillet cornbread, kohlrabi & apple slaw with a traditional Southern boiled dressing, and baked beans with Tennessee air dried ham.

5 pm – Luau Pig: Inspired by the Hawaiian tradition, a pig is buried in a pit of hot stones. A few days before, a team of men will dig a coffin-sized hole in the ground and line it with field stones. Early Porkapalooza morning, a very large and dangerous fire will be built in said hole and when it has burned down to coals, the men will lower a 75 pound hog – wrapped in banana leaves and burlap – and bury it under about three feet of earth. After several hours, a tender luau pig will emerge, served with gingered sweet potatoes and pineapple sticky rice.

8 pm – La Caja China: “Pig in a Coffin” is a Cuban preparation, roasting the pig inside a wooden box. A Cuban native watched the Chinese who came to the island to help build the railroads cook their lunch in large, metal lined wood boxes topped with a bed of coals. After just a few short hours, a juicy, perfectly cooked pig would emerge with impossibly crispy skin. Enough said. Our Providence Farm pig will be marinated in garlic mojo and served with roasted pumpkin and raw sweet onions in oil and vinegar.

Local beers and wines from New Holland Brewing Company and Fenn Valley Winery will make for pleasant pork pairings. New Holland will debut Charkoota Rye – a smoked rye dopplebock brewed to celebrate PORKAPALOOZA and the art of charcuterie. They will bring a host of other beers including Mad Hatter IPA, Full Circle Kolsch, Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, The Poet Oatmeal Stout and Dragon’s Milk barrel-aged ale. Fenn Valley, which is located adjacent to the fest site, will serve a selection of their favorite award-winning red and white wines.

Throughout the day, back-to-back entertainment will keep the toes tapping, including:

Ben Bueltmann
Dave Boutette
Jen Sygit & Tahmineh Gueramy
Los Bandits de Michigan
Mark Duval & Two Track Mind
Mississippi Gabe Carter
Singapore Valley Drifters
Who Hit John

Blankets, chairs and water coolers are welcome. The event is held in a grass field, so sturdy shoes are recommended. Guests are not allowed to bring food or alcohol into the event. All ages are welcome, but guests 21 and older will need to show ID to receive a wristband to consume alcohol. Special activities are also planned for the younger attendees.

Admission to PORKAPALOOZA is $25 per carload in advance ($40 day of) or $10 per walk / ride up, and includes access to the unlimited live entertainment. Food and beverages are sold separately. Admission tickets are available online at, or by visiting Journeymen/Rye, New Holland Brewing, Fenn Valley Vineyard or People’s Food Co-Op of Kalamazoo.

Fred Bueltmann - Beervangelist & Partner
New Holland Brewing Company

Michelle Shaw - Journeyman Café & Rye

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Holland Brewing to Celebrate 25 Employees Earning National "Certified Beer Server" Status With Special Cicerone Seminars & Dinner

(HOLLAND, Mich) – Twenty employees at New Holland Brewing Company in Holland have recently been awarded “Certified Beer Server” status and the brewery is shooting for a total of 25 by Labor Day – a mark no other brewpub or microbrewery in the country can claim. This endorsement is the first in a the three-phase Cicerone Certification Program, operated by national beer master Ray Daniels. It is the brewing industry’s equivalent to a certified wine Sommelier.

“The Cicerone program is important because it recognizes and encourages expertise,” says New Holland Beervangalist, Fred Bueltmann. “Craft beer drinkers seek a complete quality experience along with their craft beer, and Cicerone will help them know where to find it.”

To help celebrate this accomplishment, the partners at New Holland have invited Daniels to host a day of Cicerone activities – including seminars and a beer dinner –on Wednesday, September 24.

The day kicks off at Noon with Brewhouse Tours of New Holland’s 23,000-square-foot production facility with brewmaster, John Haggerty.

An “Introduction to Cicerone” will be offered from 1-2pm. During this session, one will learn the basics of how to become a Certified Beer Server. The program includes a review of basic beer serving know-how, what it means to become certified and how to take the exam.

From 3-4pm, it’s “Preparing for the Certified Cicerone Exam,” where Ray discusses and reviews the topics included on the advanced exam. He will also present a sample-version of the blind-tasting portion included in the Certified Cicerone Exam.

“Too often, great beer is harmed by improper service practices,” Daniels says. “Our program offers independent assessment and certification so that industry professionals – as well as consumers – can be sure of the knowledge and skills possessed by current and prospective beer servers. The more beer professionals understand about the many aspects of beer culture and service, the better beer will be for consumers.”

There is no charge for the seminars, but reservations are required by logging onto or by calling 616-510-2259. Space is limited to 20 individuals.

“Anyone can call themselves an expert on beer,” says Daniels. “But when consumers want great beer, they need help from a server who really knows beer flavors, styles and brands. Those with the title of ‘Certified Cicerone’ or ‘Master Cicerone’ have demonstrated their expertise in selecting and serving fine beer.”

Later than evening, a New Holland Beer Cicerone Dinner will be held at the acclaimed Journeyman Café in Fennville. This specially prepared dinner accentuates the marriage of beer’s flavors with local, hand-made cuisine and is a celebration of the accomplishment of the brewery’s staff. An additional 25 seats are open to the public, at $65 each.

The evening – touted a hedonistic, culinary adventure – features pairings and discussions by Ray Daniels, restaurant owners Amy Cook & Chef Matt Millar, and several New Holland representatives including Brett VanderKamp, founder; John Haggerty, brewmaster; and Fred Bueltmann, beervangelist.

Menu offerings include a fine selection of mouth-watering delicacies. The evening kicks off with a reception featuring parmesan gourgeres with Kathy Halinsky chevre & chive and salt cod, garlic & Binje potato fritters, paired with Full Circle.

The main entrees include shellfish ragout with Boeve Farm leeks, lemon thyme and sweet cream, paired with Golden Cap; Pumpkin agnolotti in parmesan broth with pumpkin seeds, brown butter, sage & Styrian pumpkin seed oil, paired with Ichabod; and blackberry glazed breast of smoked magret duck with braised lacinato kale & caramelized shallots and duck liver & balsamic vinaigrette, paired with Blue Sunday.

The dessert flight features dulche de leche custard with muscavado caramel, paired with Pilgrim’s Dole; tobacco chocolate truffle, paired with Dragon’s Milk; black walnut & olive oil cake with fall berries and maple crème fraiche, paired with Black Tulip; and goredawnzola blue cheese with Hasselman’s honeycomb, paired with Existential.

Ray Daniels is an author, editor and publisher of more than a dozen books on brewing and beer. He is graduate and senior faculty member at the Siebel Institute of Technology, is an internationally-known beer judge and organizer of scores of beer tasting events, including Chicago’s Real Ale Festival. Daniels is also past director of the Brewers Association Craft Beer Marketing Program.

New Holland Brewing is located at 66 E. 8th Street, Holland. Find them online at

Fred Bueltmann, Beervangalist & Partner
New Holland Brewing

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

St. Julian Winery Introduces Award-Winning Braganini Reserves to Michigan Restaurants & Retail Outlets

(PAW PAW, Mich) – St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw has introduced its top-of-the-line Braganini Reserve wines to retail outlets and restaurants throughout Michigan. These wines, considered the “best of the best,” are receiving national acclaim and capturing awards at some of the country’s top competitions.

Currently, St. Julian is producing 10 varieties of its reserve wines with Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Traminette being the most decorated. Chancellor, Cabernet Franc, Meritage, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Rose and Riesling round out the Braganini Reserve line.

“Producing the Braganini Reserve wines is time consuming, but well worth the effort,” says Dr. David Miller, St. Julian’s Vice President of Winemaking. “All of our vineyards are carefully tended, but the reserve vineyards get the most TLC. When its time to harvest, we use special time-consuming techniques to produce the reserve wines.”

Techniques such as soaking the white with the skins to extract more flavor and making the wines more intense. Yeasts are selected to maximize the flavor and aroma of each individual variety of grapes. White wines are fermented around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to retain the delicate aromas and flavors.

The reserve red wines are all barrel aged for 12 months in either American, French or Michigan oak barrels. Once the wines are near the end of barrel aging, another selection is made from the barrels so that only the best barrel lots are chosen. The final blend is worked out and then Dr. Miller and his associate winemaker, Nancie Corum, do fining trials to polish the finished wines. Wine fining involves “tweaking” the wines so that it is the best it can possibly be.

According to Dr. Miller, the fruit for the reserve wines comes from the very best local vineyards, on soils that produce low-vigor vines – the first step in growing the world’s great wines. The Traminette is grown by Mike Nitz near Baroda while Joe Herman, who also owns Karma Vista Winery, grows the St. Julian’s Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot noir and Cabernet sauvignon grapes near Coloma. Cabernet franc are grown by both Ron Nitz near Baroda and Dr. Miller near Lawton. Chancellor is produced exclusively for St. Julian by Ed Oxley Farms of Lawton and, the reserve Riesling grapes are produced in Dr. Miller’s vineyard, also near Lawton.

“The 2007 season was long and warm, producing wines with intense varietal character,” Dr. Miller says. “The whites are crisp with bright flavors and aromas. The reserve reds are still in barrels, but they are filling out nicely and we expect a superb vintage.”

Sauvignon Blanc
The Braganini Reserve Sauvignon blanc won a Silver Medal at the 31st Annual Michigan Wine & Spirits competition, as well as Bronze Medals at both the Pacific Rim–National Orange Show and Great Lakes Great Wines Competition. It also received Gold Medals from both the Taster’s Guild International and LA International Wine & Spirits Competitions. The LA competition is touted by USA Today as one of the Top 5 wine competitions in the United States. First held in 1935, the competition has maintained the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most sought-after wines in the world, and for good reason. This brisk and refreshing white wine has classic Sauvignon Blanc aromas, bursting of lemons and limes. The crisp acidity on the palate is accompanied by flavors jam-packed with mangos, white peaches and tropical fruits, with a lingering hint of fresh cut grass. Each satisfying sip is rewarded with a long, lasting finish.

The 2006 was St. Julian’s first vintage of Syrah grapes and just 350 cases were bottled. Noted as the first commercially produced Syrah in Michigan, this wine received a Bronze Medal at this year’s Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition and a Silver Medal, with an 85 ranking, from the Beverage Tasting Institute.

Syrah produces its best, most elegant wines in cool climates like that of Southwest Michigan. The inviting aromas of Bing cherry, black raspberry and white peppercorns, with a hint of vanilla, contribute to the rich flavors and soft tannins that linger and satisfy. The wine is very much in the style of the wines from the northern Rhone region of France, where Syrah originated. Fermented in small tanks and punched down by hand, twice a day, this wine was aged in ½ new Michigan oak barrels and ½ older Michigan oak barrels, for a wine that is a complete Michigan product.

“It is one of my favorites,” says Dr. Miller. “It was a difficult vintage with lots of rain, but the fruit was sound and we let it hang as long as possible for aroma, flavor and color development.”

The Braganini Reserve Traminette recently won Best of Class – Semi-Dry White at the 2008 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition. This year, it also received Chairman’s Best of Class at the Long Beach Grand Cru Competition, a Critics Gold at the Critics Challenge International Wine Competition and a Gold Medal at the LA International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Traminette was developed by Cornell University in the 1960s and was released to the public in 1996. The Braganini Reserve Traminette has the fine characteristics of its better known parent, Gewurztraminer. Exotic aromas of mango, orange peel, melon and pear leap from the glass. Crisp acidity and a hint of sweetness create the perfect framework on which flavors of peach, mango, apple, and lemon zest dance. The long, satisfying finish begs another sip and the racy structure is the perfect accompaniment to shellfish, seafood and Asian cuisine.

Several other Braganini Reserve wines received medals at the 2008 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, including a Silver Medal for the Meritage and Bronze Medals for the Cabernet Franc, Chancellor, Merlot and Riesling.

“Our wines stand shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts at national competitions and win gold,” says Dr. Miller. “That speaks volumes for our climate, soils and vineyards. Michigan, but specifically Southwest Michigan, is consistently producing world-class wines."

The family-owned St. Julian winery – Michigan’s oldest and longest-operating winery – was founded by Mariano Meconi in 1921. Today, grandson David Braganini has adopted the family tradition of winemaking while turning St. Julian into Michigan’s most renowned winery, nestled in the picturesque fruit-growing region along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

As one of 11 wineries to make up the Lake Michigan Shore Appellation – a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA), St. Julian has been instrumental in the creation and advancement of the Southwest Michigan Wine Trail, the marketing vehicle for this group of wineries. In addition to its primary facility in Paw Paw, St. Julian also operates tasting rooms in four other Michigan cities including Dundee, Frankenmuth, Parma and Union Pier. You can also find them online at

David Braganini, President – St. Julian Winery
269-657-5568 /

Friday, August 15, 2008

Progressive Michigan Entrepreneur Develops One-of-a-Kind Eco-Conscious Restaurant Concept

(ROCHESTER, Mich) – Mike Plesz of Pleszure Food Group, says his “Mind, Body & Spirits” restaurant at 301 S. Main Street in Rochester, Michigan, will be the first restaurant of its kind in the country. Utilizing dozens of eco-conscious practices and products, the restaurant is expected to be Gold LEED Certified when it opens in October 2008.

The 8000-square foot restaurant will seat approximately 200 people (including a 55 seat seasonal roof-top patio). Renovation of the 100-year-old historic building has been done with sustainable material such as bamboo flooring, VOC-free paints, sustainable timber and a green roof, among other materials.

“Mind, Body & Spirits” will feature:

· A totally non-smoking facility
· Certified Organic facility
· Trombe walls
· Geo-Thermal Wells (20 wells, 200 feet deep)
· A solar powered hot water heater
· Solar power panels
· Energy-Star certified kitchen equipment
· Two greenhouses (one on-site) and a master gardener consultant
· A bio-digester to convert food waste into a nutrient rich fertilizer for the herb greenhouse
· A system to collect rain water for the greenhouse and grey water for the toilets
· Eco-friendly furniture inside and on the rooftop patio
· Biodegradable “to go” packaging
· An extensive recycling program
· Use of eco-friendly cleaning products
· Use of crushed glass beer/wine bottles mixed with concrete for flooring
· Partnerships with local organic farmers for the progressive menu
· Organic wines, beers and spirits
· A licensed on-site organic brewpub
· A mind, body & spirits “library” on second lounge level

“Having the first restaurant of its kind will put Rochester on the map for its progressive thinking. We will become a hub for the community to spread eco-awareness and the use of local organic products,” says owner Mike Plesz. “Our staff will receive in-depth education and training on environmental sustainability and the use of local organic products in our healthful style of food preparation. They will be highly trained and will have the ability to share their knowledge with our customers.”

For more, visit and click on the “Mind, Body & Spirits” logo.

David Youngman
Pleszure Food Group

Award Winning Grand Traverse Distillery Branches Out Into Greater Chicago Market with True North Vodkas

(TRAVERSE CITY, Mich) – Grand Traverse Distillery, Michigan’s newest micro-distillery, has expanded its placement in restaurants and retail outlets to include the greater Chicago area. The True North Vodka and True North Cherry flavored vodka will be distributed through Maxwell Street Trading Company in Addison, IL.

“In addition to the retail properties – such as Sam’s Wine & Spirits and Binny’s – we also expect to place our premium vodka in the finest restaurants and bars throughout Chicago,” says Kent Rabish, who began Grand Traverse Distillery in 2005 and serves as the resident Vodkaologist. “We hope large chains, such as Meijer and Sam’s Club that carry our products in Michigan, will extend them to the Illinois market as well.”

Since 1999, Maxwell Street Trading Company has strived to bring retailers throughout the Chicago area an impressive portfolio of boutique and hard-to-find hand-crafted wine and spirits.

Since being released in June 2007, Grand Traverse Distillery’s True North Vodka has earned two Gold Medal distinctions. The first being an “exceptional” ranking of 92 points at the 2007 International Review of Spirits Competition in Chicago and the most recent at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – considered the most prestigious competition of its kind in the country. True North Cherry Flavored Vodka received a Bronze Medal during this year’s San Francisco competition as well.

“Receiving awards from these esteemed international competitions within our first year is real validation that we’re on the right track,” Rabish says. “We’ve always believed we were producing one of the finest premium vodkas. Based on the results from these competitions, the judges believe so as well.”

True North is super-premium vodka that celebrates the natural gifts abundant to Michigan's 45th parallel. Ingredients originate from the beautiful Grand Traverse region, where the rich soils produce the quality rye and the crystal clear glacial waters blend to create this premium vodka. With these quality ingredients and the triple distillation process, True North Vodka is truly one of a kind.

With its unique cherry essence and a hint of chocolate as the final touch, our Cherry Flavored Vodka has a gentle sweetness that rolls across the palette with an exceptionally smooth finish. This light, crisp and delicious spirit perfectly echoes the natural sweetness and delicacy of the fruit with the added spicy essence of rye.

Hand-crafted in small batches, more than 1800 cases of True North Vodka and Cherry Flavored Vodka have collectively sold in just the past 14 months. It can be found in over 800 retail outlets and 250 restaurants/bars in Michigan. Distributed in Michigan by General Wine & Spirits, it retails for $29.99 per bottle.

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Kent Rabish
Grand Traverse Distillery