Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Circa Estate Winery Releases “Mosaic” – Michigan’s first Appassimento-style wine

Circa Estate Winery has announced the upcoming release of Michigan’s first commercially produced appassimento-style wine. Christened “Mosaic,” this dry white wine is a blend of white grape varieties that have been partially dried prior to fermentation.

“The great Amarone winemakers of Italy employ the appassimento technique,” says winemaker Margaret Bell. “Removing some of the water from the grape by partial drying leaves an amazing juice of concentrated flavors. What we have done is translate those methods to the wonderful, aromatic white wines of the Leelanau Peninsula.”

“Appassimento” involves bringing grapes inside after harvest and placing them on drying racks for a period of weeks or months, allowing moisture to slowly evaporate from the berries and producing a juice of pronounced character. The percentage of fermentable sugar in the berry is also increased.

“We used specially made white oak racks and kept the fruit in a controlled humidity environment, allowing us to control and monitor the rate and degree of evaporation. By weighing and tasting the berries weekly we were able to stop the process at the ideal time. Biting into the grapes was like a flavor dance on my tongue.” Bell says. “As with an artists’ mosaic, this wine is a piecing together of parts to create something unique and beautiful. It is a hand-crafted, unfiltered palette of flavors.”

Mosaic is the first wine being released under Circa’s new Artisan Series line of wines. These wines represent smaller production, limited release offerings which Bell will be producing in addition to Circa’s regular lineup of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Improvisation, Requisite and Cabernet Franc. The Artisan Series wine labels will feature reproductions of local artworks that comprise the Circa tasting room collection. The Mosaic label features the painting ‘Ebullience’ by Traverse City artist Charles Murphy.

Mosaic garnered its first gold medal at the recent Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition and is being shipped this week to members of the Circa Wine Society, prior to its public release on September 2. The Bells will be pouring the new wine and answering questions at a special release party from 6-10pm on Friday, September 2 on the Circa patio. Live music and small plates will round out the festivities.

Circa is located at 7788 East Horn Road in Lake Leelanau on the Leelanau Peninsula.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Brys Estate Wins “Hardings Cup” During 2011 Michigan Cab-Franc Challenge

For the second time in three years, Brys Estate’s 2007 Artisan Series Cabernet Franc has been awarded with the “Hardings Cup” – the coveted prize of the Michigan Cab-Franc Challenge. This vintage was also the top gold medal winner in 2009, during the inaugural year for the competition. Ironically, Brys’ 2007 Cabernet Franc was the 3rd place bronze medalists both years as well – tying this year with the 2005 Cab Franc from Free Run Cellars.

The Michigan Cab Franc Challenge, which was held Thursday, August 18 at the WK Kellogg Manor House on Gull Lake in Hickory Corners, is the brainchild of Terry Stingley of Harding’s Friendly markets in Kalamazoo.

“Winning this amazing award twice in the last three years shows my commitment to producing world class and varietally-correct Cabernet Francs. I am very pleased and am looking forward to walking a long road with this amazing varietal.” says Brys Estate winemaker Coenraad Stassen. “I’d also like to thank Terry Stingley and the Harding’s team for their ongoing dedication to Michigan wines in general and the Cab Franc varietal specifically. Our wine industry has continued to raise the bar when it comes to producing world-class wines, and competitions such as this allow us the platform on which to showcase the fruits of our labor.”

The Brys Estate medal-winning wines from the 2011 Michigan Cab Franc Challenge include:

• 2007 Artisan Series Cab Franc:
The 2007 Brys Estate Cabernet Franc showcases the terroir of our beautiful estate vineyard. It is rich and complex with plum and dark berry flavors. On the nose this wine has hints of cigar box, leather, and sweet mint. This wine offers a luscious mouth feel with hints of dark chocolate and berry. A soft white pepper spice on the finish completes this wine. Enjoy our Cabernet Franc with red meats, especially lamb, or any seasonal game, or simply by itself.

• 2007 Cab Franc:
The 2007 Brys Estate Cabernet Franc showcases the terroir of our beautiful estate vineyard. It is rich and complex with cherry and dark berry flavors. This wine offers a luscious mouth feel with hints of dark chocolate and berry. A soft spice on the finish completes this wine. Enjoy our Cabernet Franc with red meats, especially lamb, or any seasonal game, or simply by itself.

Other Michigan medalists for the 2011 competition include Domaine Berrien 2005, 2nd Place; Hickory Creek 2007, 4th Place; and Domaine Berrien 2002, 5th Place.

Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery is centrally located in the heart of the Old Mission Peninsula – situated on 80 acres with breathtaking views of East Grand Traverse Bay – in Traverse City, Michigan. This boutique winery began with the planting of 32 acres of European vinifera grapes in 2001 and opened the tasting room in May of 2005. Using the highest quality standards, Brys hand picks its grapes and hand crafts its small batch, single vineyard wines, giving attention to every detail during the crushing, fermenting, aging and bottling process. You are invited to visit Brys Estate's old world-style tasting room and new outdoor patio this summer to sample their International award-winning estate wines.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

4th Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Festival Planned for Sept 10 at Uncle John’s Cider Mill

More than one hundred different ciders and perries will be available for sampling from producers throughout the Great Lakes region at the 4th Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Festival, September 10, at Uncle John’s Cider Mill at 8614 N US 127, St. Johns – just north of Lansing. The festival is presented by the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association.

A special VIP hour runs from 11am until Noon, which includes a special pour of cider from participating cideries and a unique cheese station featuring local and international selections. Special presentations from Pete Brown and Bill Bradshaw from England and Dick Dunn, editor of the Cider Digest, are also planned. VIP admission is $25 and also includes a commemorative glass and 10 sample pours.

General festival admission runs from Noon to 5pm. At $15 per person, regular admission includes a commemorative glass and 10 sample pours. Group tickets are also available for general admission ($25 for 2 tickets | $40 for 4 tickets | $75 for 10 tickets). The group rate for VIP is $10 additional for each VIP admission. Members of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) and Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) trained staff receive free regular admission.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.greatlakescider.com/ciderfest.html

All profit proceeds from the festival benefit the Great Lake Cider & Perry Association (est. 2008). Find them online at www.GreatLakesCider.com.


The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association (GLCPA) is a nonprofit organization formed to showcase and promote fermented apple and pear beverages and to help educate consumers and producers about them. Our members include both commercial and non-commercial producers, as well as affiliate members located outside the region. Come join us at one of our events and discover some of the finest North American ciders and perries!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tall Ship Manitou Offers Multi-Day Sailing Experiences on Grand Traverse Bay

You are invited to escape the daily grind of monotony, meetings and technology, by setting sail on a relaxing multi-day excursion on one of the Great Lakes most treasured bodies of water: Grand Traverse Bay. The Traverse Tall Ship Company is once again offering a series of educational and entertaining experiential cruises throughout the month of September aboard the Schooner Manitou.

• Astronomy Cruise (September 16-19, 2011).

Astronomer Mark Nussbaum will be our guide as we study the brilliant northern Michigan heavens. Hillsdale College professor and avid amateur astronomer Mark Nussbaum will be our guide to the moon and stars as we study the brilliant northern Michigan heavens.

Charting a course just like sailors centuries before, this is a weekend for those who are awed by the vast wonders of the sky. Passengers will see how the stars rise and set, just like the sun, and appear to circle around Polaris (the North Star) as the earth rotates. Passengers may bring their own small telescope or binoculars. A telescope and half-dozen pairs of binoculars will be aboard the ship for the group to share.

Nussbaum will provide star charts and discuss the distances and sizes of the stars and how it is that we are actually looking back in time as we view deeper into space. A professor of analytical chemistry and chemistry for non-science majors, Mark has taken courses in astronomy and astrophysics and has taught astronomy at the college level. He’s also led or assisted at outdoor viewing sessions on several occasions.

• Wine Tasting Cruise (September 23-26, 2011).

Explore the great wine regions of the world with Jerome Smith, Partner and Director of Sales for Select Fine Wine in Traverse City. Each evening aboard Manitou he will discuss the winemaking histories and taste the varietals from several different countries. Dinners will feature paired wines, chosen as a perfect complement to our meals.

Jerome has an extensive 30 year background in the wine industry, working at all levels of the trade. He started his career as a sommelier in top New York restaurants, has managed fine wine wholesalers and has worked as a national supplier. Today, Jerome is a partner and the Director of sales for Select Fine Wine, a national wine importer specializing in New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and Spain. Jerome holds an undergraduate degree in film and television from Michigan State University and a law degree from Fordham University. He is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Wine Specialist with the Society of Wine Educators. In addition, Jerome is a certified Spanish Wine Educator with the Wine Academy of Spain.

• Music Cruise (September 30-October 3, 2011).

Join us as we once again welcome renowned folk singer Lee Murdock aboard for four days of Great Lakes music, history, and lore. It’s always a treat to have Great Lakes folk singer Lee Murdock join us aboard Manitou as he brings the history, legends, and characters of the Great Lakes to life through song and story. This one usually brings back old friends who have sailed with us in years past…..an added bonus!

Lee Murdock has uncovered a boundless body of music and stories in the Great Lakes. There is an amazing timelessness in this music. Great Lakes songs are made of hard word, hard living, ships that go down and ships that come in. The music is grounded in the work song tradition, from the rugged days of lumberjacks and wooden sailing schooners.

Murdock comes alongside with ballads of contemporary commerce and revelry in the grand folk style. Lee's fans have discovered a sweetwater treasure in his songs about the Great Lakes, finding drama and inspiration in the lives of sailors and fishermen, lighthouse keepers, ghosts, shipwrecks, outlaws and everyday heroes.
As one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes, the Manitou is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner. A traditional two-masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner, Manitou measures 114 feet in length with more than 3000 square feet of sail.

With a 60 passenger sailing capacity (24 overnight in 12 double-bunk cabins), there is plenty of space for sitting and moving around the decks while under sail. While aboard the Manitou, passengers are free to leave the sailing to the experienced crew or lend a hand and learn the arts of the sailor. An excursion aboard the Manitou allows you to remove yourself from the trappings of modern life: no TV, phone (cell phones are discouraged), email and definitely no itinerary.

The cost for each of these multi-day windjammer excursions is $685 per person (all inclusive). To make reservations, call toll free 800-678-0383. Gift certificates are also available. For additional information about the Manitou, including its corporate charters, log onto www.tallshipsailing.com. (www.facebook.com/TallShipManitou)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wings of Wonder Screech Owl Release at The Homestead (Thursday, August 4)

The Homestead and Wings of Wonder invite you to a raptor release on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at the resort’s Camp Tam-A-Rack outdoor amphitheatre. Wings of Wonder will have 2 young eastern screech owls ready for release to a natural habitat.

Rebecca Lessard, Executive Director of Wings of Wonder, will present a program called “The Wonders of Raptors” from 7-8pm which is free and open to the community. The owl release will happen right after the program.

Participants who purchase a $20 tickets will be placed into a drawing for an opportunity to hold the owl and do the actual release as a fund-raiser for the raptor program. Contest entrants must be 18 years old to enter, with no limit of the number of tickets an individual can purchase. Two winners will be able to name the owl and do the actual release.

Bring your camera!

The Homestead is presenting three programs with Wings of Wonder this summer as a part of their special events for the season along with mountaintop concerts and cooking classes with Chef John Piombo. For more information on events at The Homestead, visit http://www.thehomesteadresort.com/special-events.php.

The Homestead is northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community located at the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – a unit of the National Park Service. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offer guests pools, tennis and golf in the summer; downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter and shops, restaurants, meeting centers and luxurious spa throughout all four seasons.

For more information on The Homestead, visit www.thehomesteadresort.com or call 231.334.5100.

For more information on Wings of Wonder, visit www.wingsofwonder.org.