June 14, 2013

Pure Michigan

Over Memorial Day weekend, Dan and I took a road trip up to Traverse City for a change of pace from the city life. We went to five vineyards, one cidery, one brewery, had meals on the 45th parallel and in an old psychiatric hospital, brought home 12 bottles of alcohol, and relaxed our asses off. We didn't make it to Sleeping Bear Dunes because it was over an hour from downtown, but the rest of our plans came together swimmingly. 
After leaving downtown Chicago at 2:30pm and stopping at a Chili's (our second favorite suburban chain) as well as losing an hour, we arrived at our destination - the AmericInn (how patriotic) at 10pm. While we had initial goals of hitting up a bar on Front St., we passed out within an hour. The next morning, we were ready to start our day up the east arm of Traverse Bay. First, we needed breakfast at a French cafe where we filled our bellies with strong coffee, eggs, and beignets.

We were very excited to hit up our first drinking spot, obviously. Black Star Farms - Old Mission is the smaller of two tasting rooms for this winery. While the seven red & whites we tasted were all good, we were surprised by how much we (chardonnay non-enthusiasts) enjoyed the Barrel Aged Chardonnayso we took one home!

Do you know what this is called? A bunghole, and it's how wine is removed from the barrel. I already despised Beavis & Butthead, but now knowing that they disgraced the vessel for my favorite beverage? I hate 'em.

The second winery we came upon was 2 Lads - the most contemporarily designed of all of them. We tasted each varietal and ended up with a wicked awesome sparkling Pinot Grigio and our first full view of the bay.

Anthropologie jacket, similar dress, denim shirt, similar booties, Stella & Dot purse, Tory Burch sunglasses
Chauteau Chantal is the biggest winery we visited. It's a restaurant, tasting room, and bed & breakfast and boasts the best views of Traverse City. While the view was breathtaking, most of the wines left something to be desired, but that doesn't mean we didn't enjoy a glass on the rooftop terrace.


The final winery of the day and where we spent the most time was Bowers Harbor Vineyard. It was our favorite for many reasons:
1. They played music. What is with TC and no music in social settings?
2. They name their wines after their house dogs and the most recent, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Brix, is adorable, playful, and very outgoing.
3. They served their tastings in towers.
4. They had the most complex red we drank all day - the Cabernet Franc, which isn't available on their website, so I'm happy we purchased it!

Next up? We indulged Dan's taste buds at Right Brain Brewery with heavy tasting pours of some local brews, which included an asparagus ale and a wheat beer named "Rumple Smooth Skin," which played to the part of me that loves 90s rap. This put us in the downtown area and therefore, we were able to hit up a local bar for burritos and to watch the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings - hence the not-so-nice note my fiancĂ© left on our receipt...

On to day two of our shenanigans...
We headed up the west arm of the bay aka Leelanau Penninsula, which included twenty miles of this view. Not bad, eh? Our first stop was at the 45th Parallel Cafe in Suttons Bay. There is no photographic evidence of our skillets, cherry pancakes, or biscuits & gravy because we were too hungry and it tasted too good!

After we over indulged at brunch (typical), we went to Tandem Ciders and immediately found our favorite - Early Day. It's dry and bubbly and oh so refreshing. We walked around the grounds with a bottle in hand avoiding bees and enjoying the sunshine.

The last vineyard on our list was Forty-Five North. Even though there were quite a few sweet wines during the tasting (no, thank you), we walked out with the best rose I've ever tasted.

With still full bellies and slight fuzzy heads, we returned to our hotel and relaxed the late hours of the afternoon away before getting ready for a night on the town. After opening a bottle of Bowers Harbor Redan easy drinking blend, we were ready for dinner at one of Mario Batali's favorite restaurants...

Trattoria Stella was everything we expected and more. Most notably, it's located in the basement of a regional psychiatric institution that was open from 1885-1989. As a mental health counselor, I was incredibly interested in the history and the host provided us with a few books with pictures and the greenskeeper's autobiography. 
For dinner, we had a robust, tannic cabernet sauvignon (much needed after lighter blends all weekend), a cheese board with homemade crackers & jam, and a Kobe beef entree. Our choices were recommended by our waiter who was incredibly knowledgeable and we trusted his opinions immediately.

Our night on the town turned out to be one bar and one drink post dinner before returning to the hotel, our pajamas, and the rest of our wine. Like I said, the theme of the weekend was comfort, calm, and quiet. 

I hope you enjoyed our adventure as I certainly enjoyed reliving it and sharing it with you!

No comments: