As I get ready to start exploring Michigan (still trying to get Marguerite to come with me for some of these….), I ran into the problem of trying to figure out which to do first. After giving it some thought, I decided to go in order of their creation. Which means that Fennville. This viticulture area was designated October 19, 1981 and contains 75,000 acreas of coastal Lake Michigan between the Kalamazoo and Black Rivers. The soils are sandy and glacial and temperatures are moderated by the deep waters of Lake Michigan. The vineyards in the area are capable of producing both Vitis vinifera and Vitis labrusca grapes. Oh, and did I mention that this wines from this area is a great locapour option for those of you living around the Great Lakes? It is true.
The problem that I am having with this AVA is determining is whether there are any wineries producing wine with the Fennville Appellation AVA. Per an article in 2007 at Appellation America indicated that only one winery existed in the viticulture area, Fenn Valley Vineyards. However, when I checked the website for Fenn Valley, I found that the wine pictured at their site was labelled under the Lake Michigan Shore appellation in which Fennville is completely contained. So, am I confused? yes. I will let you know if I have answers soon.
In the meantime, I have prepared the map for the possibly useless AVA.
Ever go into restaurant and look over the menu and see the Chef proudly proclaim that they are sourcing their proteins and veg from local farms? I see it alot here in Chicago.
Then I take a look at the winelist and there is nothing, I mean NOTHING local on it. When I have asked, I asked I get answers that relate to the economics of distribution (which is complex and a pain to figure out) or I get comments about the quality of the local wines as discussed in the comments of this Huffington Post piece.
So, when I see a wine list that has anything local on it, I want to cheer them on.
Kevin, I and the girls stopped for brunch recently at such a place. Browntrout.
The restaurant bills itself as serving sustainable, locally farmed, and organic products whenever possible. For most restaurants this has meant a trip to the Chicago Green Market. Browntrout grows its own herbs in their rooftop garden as well as establishing relationships with local farmers. Local and artisanal beers are also on the list as is locally roasted coffee and house made gingerale and Gale Gand’s Root Beer. But it is the wine list that interested me most.
Most of the options were labels that I have previously seen and know to be sustainably produced. Ironically, many wine makers use sustainable practices but shy away from using in their advertising so that the focus is on the quality of their wine, not the method of production. I was pleased to see a couple of options on the list from local vineyards, specifically, the Pinot Grigio and Blaufrankisch from the Circa Vineyards in Leelanau Michigan. I was doubly delighted by the Blaufrankisch as it is a varietal that is largely only see in Germany and Austria. Unfortunately, I was eating brunch, so I skipped red wine and enjoyed the Pinot Grigio instead. It was a nice crisp wine with a lot of flavor. Kevin and I are certainly looking forward to trying the red at another point as the food at Browntrout was wonderful. Even the ever world-weary, Celia couldn’t find anything bad to say. That is high praise indeed.
So get out there and support your Locapour restaurants. They aren’t just talking the local, green talk; they are walking the walk too!
4111 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
When in Walla Walla, I attended the Wine Bloggers’ Conference at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center and visited Whitman Cellars. Walla Walla is also home Whitman College, alma mater of Adam West and Dirk Benedict.
So, naturally, the question arose, who is this Marcus Whitman guy and what did he do to get so much in town named after him. Here is your answer. Your welcome.
North Dakota! Where the winds go sweeping down the plains! Ooops, wrong song. But North Dakota is where I’ll wind up next and there are plains. So that much is accurate. To get there, all I have to do is cross the Red River from Minnesota. Easy-peasy. Now, I have seen the Red in action. it is no meek, mild river. I got to enjoy its delightful flooding during the summer of 1993 in the even more delightful city of Winnipeg. Do you know how big mosquitos get in Manitoba during a flood? I still have nightmares about them.
So what do I have to look forward to in North Dakota?
Well, there is Fargo. Still no Marge, but still. I also get to go through the capital, Bismarck, named for the German Chancellor, not the donut.
While in St. Louis, I did more than drag an underaged teen from one winery to another… I went out to dinner… With grownups even!
Yes, it is true. After spending a long day in volleyball and touring Daniel Boone’s favorite wineries, the girl and I headed back to the hotel where she immediately ditched me for team related activities and headed up to see my favorite wine-loving volleyball mom. After snacking on some cheese and crackers and drinking some delicious Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon we headed down to the hotel’s restaurant, An American Place.
The room for this restaurant is beautiful with ridiculously high ceilings due to the Mezzanine being above. The ceiling seemed to have Wedgewood cameos engraved, painted, however it is done.
One of the things that I liked about the menu was that the Chef/Owner Larry Forgione sources many of his supplies locally. Unlike many chefs, he extends this policy to his list of libations which contained selections from :
Better yet, the meals were terrific. We started out with an amuse bouche of blue cheese panna cotta with a reduced balsamic glaze and chip of cured pork shoulder. Next I had the sweetbreads which were a treat I haven’t had in a long, long time and finally the hanger steak which at that point I forgot to photograph because I was enjoying the food and conversation…. Oh, and I loved the presentation of the shrimp cocktail, which I thought looked like mini versions of the St. Louis Arch!
Recently, I ran across this question on a message board (if you can call LinkedIn that):
Should the “Eat Local” ethic apply to wine as well?
Not surprisingly alot of the commenters couldn’t see the point of extending that philosophy to what they drank. Some because “freshness” isn’t exactly a quality sought in wine, others because of economics of the restaurant business or the wine business. Naturally, I have a point of view. Here is what I wrote:
What would you think about a San Francisco restaurant that REFUSED to sell California wine?
That is exactly what local wineries all over the country face.
And by wineries, I am NOT referring to ambitious hobbyists making wine in their basement (like I do) but rather licensed and bonded wineries which exist in every state of our nation. Without retail and restaurant exposure these wineries remain undiscovered gems. “Local” may be seen as environmentally friendly and good policy when it comes to foodstuffs, but in the wine world has become synonymous with “inferior”. Why? Because there is no recognition for these wines because the distributors control all the marbles. Without distribution, the chances of a wine ending up on a restaurant menu or in your local liquor store are close to nil. And of course, without name recognition, most distributors won’t be bothered with a winery.
What bothers me are people who recognize the positives that come from supporting local producers but drawing the line a local wine. If you are going to promote locavorism then you should support locapourism too.
Think about the restaurants that you frequent. Do they serve local wine? Do they talk about “local” produce? If they do, ask for a local wine pairing. And tell us if they have one. I would love to start a listing of restaurants that carry local wine.
Ahh, the Hudson River. Four hundred years of American history flow up and down its length. I am guessing that Henry Hudson had no idea what he was getting us all into when he sailed up river looking for the Northwest Passage (he didn’t find it there…(duh) but even though he explored the river for the Dutch, even the English named the river for him)).
Wine-making is thought to begin with the French Huegenots who settled in what is now New Paltz. The year was 1677. This was six years before the first European attempt to establish vineayrds in California. The region is also home to oldest vineyard (located at the Benmarl Vineyards) and the oldest winery, Brotherhood Winery (which even produced during Prohibition by making sacramental and medicinal wines) in the United States.
The region is home to over thirty wineries which can be found at Uncork NY!
With Thanksgiving looming before us this week (Please keep your Christmas references at bay, please… I can only handle one holiday at a time), many people are trying to decide what to have for the big feast.
Turkey is the obvious choice (though venison would be traditionally correct as well, as the local Wamponoag people brought five deer to the feast)
One thing that we can be sure of? Those people celebrating their first feast of thanksgiving in Plymouth (or Virginia) dined on local food. There was no Beajolais Nouveau or Beaujolais Vieux for that matter…
What seems totally appropriate? Drinking local. During the colonial period, the Pilgrims would have had beer from home grown barley, or cider from home grown apples or even wine from from native grapes (fox grapes named for their flavor… think Concord and tell me if you can avoid thinking of grape jelly!) or other local fruit.
So my plan?
To drink as much local wine as possible… The thing holding me back? Well… my parents are hosting our feast.. and Dad does have all of those wine clubs that he is a member of… I will do my best to bring more wine than Lionstone International can send my father.
After leaving my Grandmother’s birthday party in Virginia Beach at the beginning of the month, I headed back on the road thinking that I would find wineries.
And then I remembered. It is autumn now and it was Monday. Wineries like many service industry businesses are often closed on their slowest day. In this case, Monday. Particularly in the off season. This meaning not Autumn and Winter. Sigh.
I tried, but wasn’t able to find a winery in Maryland that was open, but I will make an effort to get to this one my next time out.
It wasn’t an entire loss for Monday. I did stop at my first Chick-fil-A. Yummy. Now all the other chicken sandwiches are pale imitations.