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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Michigan Fall Color Tour -- NW lower peninsula

We enjoyed a wonderful drive around northern lower Michigan  the first weekend in October. We visited a couple wineries and saw some beautiful scenery and colors, although I think the second weekend would yield better colors.

The drive around the Leelanau peninsula through Suttons Bay, Northport, and Leland is a nice trip. The roads are hilly, which provides many great views of Lake Michigan, Lake Leelanau, and many different trees. Each town offers quaint shopping, wineries, great fish, and local dining options. 

Black Star Farms winery has three tasting rooms in the Grand Traverse Bay area. They sell a souvenir glass for $5, which you use to sample six wines. You can then reuse the glass for five more samples at a different time or location. We visited the tasting room in Grand Traverse Commons, and the winery on Old Mission peninsula. We were disappointed with the service and knowledge shared at the Commons location; however, we thought the Old Mission visit was great! The young man serving at Old Mission provided excellent and brief information about each product he poured, he provided bland crackers for in-between tastes (which we did not receive at the Commons location), and he provided chocolate truffles with the excellent raspberry dessert wine we sampled. We, of course, made a purchase at this location! If this was my business, I would implement a way for employees to receive credit for each purchasing customer (he could have provided a business card, or the cashier could have asked who assisted us). The service we received at Old Mission made an impact on our decision to purchase.

One reason I wanted to visit Black Star Farms is because I am an avid champagne lover, and had found this review of their 2008 sparkling wine: "Recently released and oh so bubbly our 2008 Sparkling Wine was reviewed by Tony Brueski on  As Tony notes this is not a sweet style sparkling wine but a rather dry one made in the classic brut style.  This wine pairs well with an assortment of dishes as well as being wonderful on its own." 

Brut is my preference, so I was excited to try this wine, especially since the price was under $15. I am sad to say that I did not like this product. It was more flat than bubbly, and lacked flavor. Two positive words that describe it are clean and crisp--much like many inexpensive white wines.  

We enjoyed beautiful fall colors alongside the 131 expressway through the Cadillac area on our way home. I was surprised that the colors in this area were more peaked than the ones in the Grand Traverse Bay area. I assume the bodies of water in the Bay area have an impact on this.