Back to school.
Trying to beat the tour bus, we kicked into high gear to hustle out of Chateau Grand Traverse and get down the road to Peninsula Cellars. A darling school house. I love a theme. Especially a vintage theme. They have executed it well here. And they make some quality wines as well. Notice a theme in these blog posts? Traverse City has it going on!
Peninsula Cellars was founded in 1991 by the Kroupa Family. They have a nifty and interactive timeline of their winery's history on the website. Suffice it to say that they to have been scooping awards like its their job. I suppose, it kind of is....
We did not stay at Peninsula long. It is a small space and the staff were in expedite mode. Very friendly and knowledgeable, just kept it movin'.
So my faves here were:
2013 Manigold Gewürztraminer. Lychee but bursting with citrus and finishing with spice on the palate.
2012 Hogs Back Merlot/Cabernet Franc. Aged in French Oak for 13 months, this full bodied red smacks of rich dark chocolate fondue with red berries!
Peninsula Cellars also makes fruit wine and cider.
And for winery #6...
Next tasting room: Hawthorne Vineyards. Off the beaten path a bit but well worth the detour. We were also only at Hawthorn briefly. It has a rather stately character and wines to match. Our taster gave us personalized attention and had a soothing presence. As does wine. Here is what soothed me the most:
2012 Pinot Blanc. Pear. Opulence. Balanced Acidity.
2013 Gamay Noir. A bowl full of jelly. Cherry jelly. Just like Santa's belly. Soft, easy-drinkin'!
2012 Cabernet Franc/Merlot. Aged 17 months in 86% French Oak and 14% American Oak, this Bordeaux blend is stunning. The plum/tobacco thing is all over this wine. A graceful sophistication.
One more for the day.
The 7th tasting room (we are champs!), of the day was Black Star Farms, an Agricultural Destination. They have various tasting rooms and amalgamations throughout the area. To be clear, we stopped at the one on The Old Mission Peninsula. It has a pleasant vibe. We arrived moments before a stretch limo, which in clown car fashion, unloaded a never-ending bachelorette party in derby hats. I learned from the less than ecstatic staff: this is a thing. Apparently they generally wear strange and coordinated outfits and/or accessories. The challenge for wineries is that they buy absolutely, nothing. To be fair, they are all carrying purses the size of a check-book. Who can fit wine in there? Necessities only: cell phone, lipstick and maybe sunglasses? I know the type. I have been the type. Still, I hope that somewhere in there, a deep appreciation of wine either exists or is being cultivated. All told, I was so relieved that we beat them into the tasting room though. Black Star is making some strong wines.
I liked the following:
2013 Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé. A beauteous Rosé! 100% Pinot Noir with a deep pink glow, strawberry and mineral on the palate. Balanced acidity. We brought some back to Chicago and enjoyed it with a meal at our favorite Korean Taco spot, which blends the flavors of those two savory cuisines. It handled the bold flavors, such as kimchi rice, smashingly!
2011 Arcturos Pinot Noir. Smells like that french violet candy. Tastes like dried currants aged in wood. Winner.
2012 Black Star Farms Pinot Noir. The one with bears on the label. For a more accessible Pinot Noir, try this one. The grapes come from The Leelanau Peninsula. Succulent berries of the earth. Drinks like juice.
And that was a wrap!
After the 7th winery, we headed back to the quaint downtown area of Traverse City and stumbled upon Georgina's for dinner. This is a newer Asian-Latin fusion restaurant that had been recommended to us by our Airbnb host. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time and got in, on a Saturday, but a reservation is recommended.