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.

For more information, log on to

Kent Rabish
Grand Traverse Distillery