Michigan Winery Reviews
Black Star Farms Winery - The unique selection of wines at this Suttons Bay, Michigan winery stand out from the rest. With miles and miles of beach front and wineries, this area of Michigan is a hot-spot for tourists. With so many wineries to visit in the area, it's difficult to stop at all of them, but Black Star Farms is a definite "must".
Just outside the tasting room door, a woman was pouring samples of their complimentary wine of the day. We stopped and had a sample of a semi-dry white wine, then proceeded inside. We were approached by a gentleman wanting to know if we had come to do some tasting. We told him that we had and he directed us to a cash register to get us set up. This is when we found out there was a charge to sample at Black Star Farms. For a $5.00 fee we were given two wine glasses (that were ours to keep) and were allowed to approach the tasting counter to choose four wines to sample. He also showed us a separate tasting counter, where for another fee, we could sample premium wines.
We walked up to the first tasting counter and studied the tasting sheet trying to figure out which four wines we wanted to try. We chose the Late Harvest Riesling, Red House Red, Cherry and Sirius Pear. The Late Harvest Riesling was not as sweet as some others we had tried in the area...but the Sirius Pear was quite extraordinary. Black Star Farm's Sirius Pear is definitely a serious dessert wine. After our samples at the first counter, we decided to spend a few extra dollars and proceeded to the second counter to taste a couple of their premium wines. We decided on their Riesling Ice Wine and a very interesting Maple Dessert Wine.
When we were finished tasting, we browsed the many unique gift items surrounding the large tasting counter and checked out the different varieties of cheese they had for sale...which are made on-site. Most wineries in this area offer complimentary tastings, but even though you must pay a fee to sample wines at Black Star Farms, it is well worth it. They offer many unique wines to sample in a pleasant, upscale atmosphere. This Suttons Bay winery is one you should not pass up.
Chateau de Leelanau - The tasting room of this Suttons Bay, Michigan winery is located between Traverse City and Suttons Bay...not at the winery and vineyards which are situated near the northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. When we walked inside, there was only one other couple at the tasting counter. The tasting rooms we had been to earlier in the day were so crowded, this was a nice change of pace. When we approached the counter, a woman immediately greeted us and presented us with a tasting sheet and information on the price of a wine tasting. We paid for the wine tasting, which came with two glasses (I have so many glasses from paid tastings...I think I could open a wine glass store), and browsed the tasting sheet to decide which wines to sample.
We sampled their Bianca (which you don't find much of in Michigan), a couple varieties of Riesling and the infamous Cherry wine that you find all over Michigan. The wine that stood out the most was their Verry Cherry. It was one of the better Cherry wines I have tried. As we were leaving the tasting counter...the woman said we should check out the chocolate near the cash register. She told us that they had just received a shipment of Columbian chocolate with coffee pieces in it and it was "to die for". We picked up a bottle of Verry Cherry and headed to the chocolate. I'm not much of a chocolate eater...but I always like to try unique things...so I picked up a bar of the Columbian chocolate too. We haven't opened the wine yet, but the chocolate was quite interesting. I took it to work for everyone to sample. The coffee bits really added a unique flavor, even though crunching into them felt a little unusual.
Chateau de Leelanau had a very friendly atmosphere, a good selection in the gift shop, and a great cherry wine. Even without the vineyards on-site, it's a tasting room well worth checking out.
Ciccone Vineyard & Winery - The selection was small, but elegant at this Suttons Bay, Michigan winery. When we entered the tasting room, the large tasting counter was full. We roamed the room while we were waiting and took in the surroundings. It was a very extravagant tasting room decorated in an ornate fashion. It gave me the feeling I was partially in an upscale wine bar, and partially in a medieval castle.
When we found a spot at the tasting counter, we were treated to a sample of each of the four wines they had to offer...a Gewurztraminer, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Gris, and a Pinot Noir. We decided we liked the Pinot Noir the best and bought a bottle before we left. Our visit was short...but that will happen with only four wines to choose from and a busy tasting counter with only one person working behind it. Ciccone Vineyard & Winery is a boutique winery with a small selection, but if you're a dry wine lover, you may want to stop in and sample their wares.
L. Mawby - Excite Yourself...Us, Sex, Fizz....that's what the ad stated for this Suttons Bay, Michigan winery which specializes in sparkling wines. Okay...I was intrigued. I had to find out what the excitement was about. I was expecting to see employees all dressed in black, New Age music and modern art. I expected to be treated more like an intruder than a customer. I was happy when we drove up and finally caught a glimpse of the winery. It didn't look so intimidating after all.
A very friendly woman spoke to us as soon as we entered the tasting room. She explained that we could go outside on the porch for a complimentary tasting of two sparkling wines...then we could decide if we wanted to go further with a paid tasting complete with something to munch on. We proceeded outside where a gentleman was pouring the complimentary tastings. He spoke of the winery and how they made their sparkling wines while he was pouring. We were delighted with the two samples we received and decided to go ahead and order the paid tasting.
Our paid tasting consisted of three sparkling wines (a very large sample of each) and smoked whitefish and crackers. We sat outside on the porch and sipped the wonderful samples that had been poured for us. I've always been a huge fan of sparkling wines, so when we were making plans to visit this area, I knew this was one winery I didn't want to miss. When we were finished, we headed inside to make a purchase. I had to buy a bottle of Sex....a Brut Rose that was absolutely delicious. I also collect wine labels for a wall I am decorating in my dining room...and I couldn't pass this label up.
If you are winery hopping in the Suttons Bay area, I would highly recommend that you put L. Mawby on your list. The wonderful assortment of sparkling wines is a nice change of pace from the other wineries in the area. Their service and selection are top-notch. Stop by and...excite yourself. Favorite: Sex.
Shady Lane Cellars - The tasting room of this Suttons Bay, Michigan winery is a lovingly restored 100-year old chicken coop. Upon entering the tasting room, one would never know what this elegant building once was. As soon as we stepped inside, we were surrounded by the many interesting and unique wine-related items in their gift area. We could see the tasting counter on the second floor...but browsed the first level first. I enjoyed their selection of wine jewelry, which is always my favorite item to look at when visiting wineries.
We headed up to the second level to do some wine tasting. The counter was quite full and we stood back waiting for a space to open up. One of the ladies behind the counter noticed us and asked some of the guests to help make room for us. We sampled four of their wines, which were all little too dry for me, but Gary did find their Touche (a semi-dry rose) interesting. There were several ladies behind the counter having a good time serving and talking with the guests. Some regular customers also came in while we were there and the staff knew exactly what wines to get for them. The whole atmosphere at Shady Lane was very friendly and easy-going.
Gary wanted to purchase a bottle of Touche to take home with him, so we bought a bottle before moving on. Shady Lane Cellars had a large assortment of dry sparkling and still wines. I you are a dry wine lover, you should consider a stop at this Suttons Bay winery. If you're not, the wonderful craftsmanship of the restored chicken coop is worth a visit in itself.
Willow Vineyards - This review is certainly not for anyone who lives close to this Suttons Bay, Michigan winery, because I'm sure most area residents have already stopped by Willow Vineyards. If not for the wine...at least for the panoramic view from their hilltop location. When we pulled into the parking lot, I had to take a few minutes to look around. I felt like I was in the Caribbean, because all I could see for miles around was crystal blue water. The sun was shining bright this particular Saturday, and the color of the water was magnificent.
We walked a little farther up the hill and entered the small tasting room. The owners were behind the tasting counter and immediately set us up with glasses so that we could sample the four wines that they produce. All four were dry wines, and we decided that we liked their Pinot Noir the best. The prices at Willow Vineyards were a little higher than most area wineries. The bottle of Pinot Noir that we purchased as $18.00...a little steep for the area...but it was a very good wine.
Willow Vineyards is one of the smaller wineries in Suttons Bay, but they do have the biggest view. If you're in the area, stop by and sample their premium selection of wines and take in the gorgeous view.