One of our pleasures this past weekend was touring Leelanau County's wine country -- an exciting place to be in part because we noticed several not-ready-for-prime-time vineyard startups in the area, promising more winery destinations in the future.
But in the meantime we stopped at two of our favorite wineries, plus a new discovery. We had great fun at Gill's Pier , which has a wonderful tasting room and knowledgeable staff -- and the winery's iconic dogs, Tiki and Sage, look very much like our own Cassie and Gertie. If fruit wines make you think of Boone's Farm, you need to try Gill's Farm Icebox Apple and Cheerio Cherry, both of which are complex, non-syrupy, refreshing, food-friendly wines. (The Cheerio Cherry goes great with roast turkey and pork, by the way.) I don't think we've ever had a bad wine here.
Another favorite along the wine trail is Longview Winery . We loved their Rustic White table wine, which has a subtle Chardonnay oakiness that raises it above the usual bland table wine. Their Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling are also great. If you like dessert wines, try their cherry wine with chocolate -- it's exactly like a cherry cordial.
Our new discovery was Shady Lane Winery in Suttons Bay, whose tasting room is in an amazing stone farm building we were told was originally a chicken coop. We enjoyed all their wines, and again were impressed with one of their table wines, Serenity. A bonus is that one can enjoy a tasting outdoors, with a sample of crackers and goat cheese or salmon spread from a local gourmet shop.
Two wineries we missed, sadly, this time around were Boskydel , the original Leelanau Peninsula winery -- fabulous wines, by the way -- and Victoria Creek , a newer winery that boasts being Leelanau County's first "green" winery powered by solar technology. Oh, well...there's always next year.