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Tasting Leelanau-Afterword

Continued from the article Tasting Leelanau

Our expedition to the Leelanau Peninsula was a smashing success and particularly eyeopening for me.  I had gone under the mistaken notion that the Leelanau played something of a second fiddle to the Old Mission Peninsula’s first chair in quality Michigan wine, and discovered that nothing could be further from the truth.   They are making delicious wines on the west side of the bay, and not just a few here and there.  When considered with the rest of its abundant agricultural output, Leelanau produces a wealth of wonderful products, and with the ever-increasing number of wineries, ranging from rustic to showplace, is now a legitimate Agro-tourism Destination Place (if it wasn’t already before), one deserving of far greater recognition.  Hopefully, this report will play some role in spreading the word.

Our experience left me with an even greater appreciation of the cool climate wines produced on both peninsulas and how, with their continually improving quality, they need to be considered on their own terms, rather than compared with other regions around the globe.  The northern Michigan wine culture, while young compared to those of France, Italy and even California, is firmly established, and it was tremendously exciting to become immersed in it for three solid days.  We ate, drank, breathed and slept Leelanau wine, food and hospitality.

One cannot say enough good things about our stay at The Inn at Black Star Farms.  There are only 8 guest rooms, 3 of which were taken by our group, and everything about the accommodations and the service there were stellar, from the moment we walked in and were greeted with glasses of Isadore’s Choice Pinot Noir to the delicious daily gourmet breakfasts of locally produced foods served in the cozy nook in the building’s southern end to the plush bath robes available to guests in each room to the complimentary bottle of Black Star Farms wine.  We would have liked to have had more time to explore the property itself, but our days were mostly taken with touring and tasting.  On Thursday morning, we were able to meet with Anne Hoyt, who with her husband John, operates the award winning Leelanau Cheese Company, and while no cheese was being made on that day, she gave us an informative overview and took us to the cellar where the wheels of raclette are aged.

Andy McFarlane

Andy McFarlane

On Tuesday evening, we took Andy McFarlane to dinner at The Cooks’ House to express our thanks for his invaluable help in setting up just about every aspect of our tour.  A rather modest little space, what this restaurant lacks in elegance of setting, it more than makes up for with quality of cuisine and presentation.  Their stated mission is to use, promote and celebrate local sustainable foods, and in that regard, they succeeded brilliantly.  Of particular note is the fact that we took a number of the wines we had been gifted with earlier in the day at Longview and were able to spend more time with them in a setting that showed them in their best light.  They paired beautifully with the dishes, some of which can be seen in our photo gallery.

Everyone we came in contact with during our stay, from the Inn staff to the winery principles to the restaurateurs and more, exuded a palpable sense of pride.  Again and again, it was clear to us that these people are passionate about the good and important things that they are doing in the Leelanau Peninsula.

Many, many thanks to Andy McFarlane, the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association, the management and staff at Black Star Farms and all of the winery owners and wine makers who were so generous with their time and products.  Thanks also go to David Rusnell for driving us everywhere in his pride and joy red Dodge Charger, to Claudia Tyagi for getting the entire process started to make this adventure happen and to Kim Adams for her camera work, both still and video.  I couldn’t have asked for three better traveling companions!

Continued from the article Tasting Leelanau

Related posts:

  1. Tasting Leelanau: Prologue
  2. Tasting Leelanau: Chateau Fontaine
  3. Tasting Leelanau: Ciccone Vineyard and Winery
  4. Tasting Leelanau: Gill’s Pier Vineyard and Winery
  5. Tasting Leelanau: Circa Estate Winery

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