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Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Alaina Dodds
July 23, 2020 | Alaina Dodds

Summer Grilling + Wine Pairing

We've partnered with the amazingly talented baker + food blogger, Melissa Ann, on a Summer Grilling Mini-Series! Melissa owns a handmade small-batch Gourmet Baked Good business in Grand Rapids called Cheat Day Sweets. She is also the digital creator for Wine and a Whisk on Instagram - give her a follow for so many mouth-watering recipes! See below for the first recipe we worked on together, Lemon Salmon + Artichoke Skewers paired with our Unwooded Chardonnay, and stay tuned for more!

This dish pairs extremely well with our Unwooded Chardonnay because of its crisp acidity, delicate fruit flavors, and lean citrus aromas of lime and lemon zest.  

πŸ‹Lemon Salmon and Artichoke Skewers



● 1 pound salmon cub into cubes

● 1 jar artichoke hearts

● 1 lemon sliced thinly and halved

● 1 bell pepper cut into large chunks (I used red, yellow and green mixed)

● 1/2 red onion cut into large chunks

● salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Marinade

● 1/4 cup fresh sweet basil chopped finely

● 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped finely

● 3 tablespoons olive oil

● 2 tablespoons lemon juice

● 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

● 2 cloves garlic minced

● 1/8 teaspoon sea salt or to taste


1. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least an hour prior to using. Alternately, use metal skewers.

2. Prepare the marinade by adding all the ingredients together in a small dish. Mix to combine and refrigerate for an hour or more.

3. Add the salmon to 4 skewers, alternating salmon and thinly sliced pieces of lemon. Drizzle with 1/2 of the marinade. The marinade can simply be spooned on, or you can use a brush to more evenly coat the skewers. Try to get all sides to help salmon not stick to the grill.

4. Add the artichoke hearts, peppers, and onions to 4 skewers

5. Over a very hot grill, cook the skewers for 4-6 minutes. Flip, and cook the other side until the salmon is cooked throughout. The salmon should not stick to your grill when it is cooked on one side. Cook veggies until they are cooked to preferred crispness.

6. Serve the skewers with the remaining lemon sauce.

Time Posted: Jul 23, 2020 at 6:49 AM Permalink to Summer Grilling + Wine Pairing Permalink
Alaina Dodds
June 26, 2020 | Alaina Dodds

Wine Club Buzz

Wine clubs are truly the gift that keeps on giving and I have been a member of so (oooo) many wine clubs over the years (what can I say, I'm an easy sell). I love getting mail that isn't bills or dog food, and wine is just about the best mail you can receive. I also LOVE to visit the winery to pick up my club order if I am in the area. I like to taste (pre-COVID-19) the new wines, chat with the employees, and experience what the winery has to offer. What usually sells me on the wine club is, of course, the quality of the wine, but it is mostly the experience that I had/have when I'm visiting the winery. Were the employees welcoming, fun, knowledgeable? Is the Tasting Room a place I would want to hang out in? If I can say yes to all four of those things, plus the wine is great, it's a no-brainer for me. I drink plenty of wine, so to drink my favorites at a discount, why not? 

How many places can you go and get a free glass of wine?

This brings me to my point of why I think the wine club here at Bowers Harbor Vineyards is so great. It has ALL THE PERKS! I know, I know, I'm biased because I work here but it's true. As a Bowers Harbor Vineyards Wine Club Member, you get:

  • Complimentary glass of wine on EACH VISIT (we love you so much we want to see you a lot)
  • Complimentary wine tastings, after COVID-19 (GO AWAY coronavirus)
  • Wine four times a year (January, April, July, October)
  • You control your price (meaning you can choose which wines you want each quarter, OR you can let us choose them for you!)
  • Free Membership: no additional fees with four quarter commitment*
  • Exclusive discounts on wine, cider, BHV logo, and glassware purchases
  • Exclusive access to events hosted on our Estate
  • V.I.P. vineyard tours and Library samplings from the Wine Library upon request

We have three different clubs to choose from, our Bowers Harbor Club (3-bottle), Cellar Starter Club (6-bottle), and Cellar Envy Club (12-bottle). When deciding which club to join, these questions might help:

  1. Do you drink 1, 2, or 4 bottles of wine per month?
  2. Do you like to drink some bottles right away and age others? 
  3. Would you prefer to get 15%, 20%, or 25% off all wine from Bowers Harbor Vineyards? 

We can either ship your wine to you each quarter (shipping fees apply) or you can pick it up here. We can hold it for you for up to 2 quarters for free, and if you need us to hold it beyond that we can do that as well, for a minimal fee. Every quarter we offer pick-up parties and a lot of our out-of-town club members plan their trips to Traverse City around those weekends. Our pick-up-parties are truly an amazing time. We always have them catered and you can enjoy the newly released wines or stick with your tried and true favorites, + you'll get fun time with other club members!

So...what are you waiting for? Here's the link to sign up and we can't wait to welcome you into our family soon!

If you have any questions about the Wine Club (or anything at all), please don't hesitate to reach out to either myself or the Wine Club Manager, Melissa

Time Posted: Jun 26, 2020 at 9:21 AM Permalink to Wine Club Buzz Permalink
Alaina Dodds
February 14, 2020 | Alaina Dodds

Grab Your Crew for Snowshoe, Wine, & Brew!

We all know the winters in Michigan are loooong. Some years we have winter from October – April. That’s seven months of cold and dark, and seasonal depression is real folks. But that’s NOT what this blog is about, it’s about the joy of Michigan winters and the wonder of four gorgeous seasons here.  

There is one amazing thing you can do all year long in Traverse City, and that is drinking wine. I personally feel that winter is the best time to visit all of the amazing wineries in our area, our tasting rooms aren’t crowded, which means you can really get that one on one experience with our staff – and that’s something we all love to have!  

Traverse City is SO STUNNING in the winter! Our vineyards and trails are covered in sparkling snow, the downtown streets are lit up with twinkly lights and if the big lake isn’t frozen over, you get those deep blue waves which seem even more magical this time of year.  

My all-time FAVORITE winter activity is snowshoeing. I love the peacefulness of strapping on those shoes and hitting the trails with my husband and dogs, friends, or just by myself. It’s an inexpensive (aka FREE) way to get fresh air and exercise and let’s be honest, get a perfect photo for Instagram...(if it’s not on the gram, did it really even happen?). 

Have you tried our organized snowshoe event, Snowshoe, Wine & Brew, yet? We’ve partnered with Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery, and TC Brew Bus on this event which takes place every Sunday throughout the winter (end of December through the beginning of March). First, you will park at Jolly Pumpkin before hopping on the TC Brew Bus to be dropped off at Brys Estate.


Then, you will enjoy a tasting of world-class white and red wines. Brys Estate has several of my most favorite wines in all the land, including the Pinot Blanc, Signature Rosé, and Cabernet Franc (run immediately and get yourself a bottle, or shop it here.) You will enjoy your tastings at different stations, where you can customize your tasting based on your preferences, and end with a spiked hot apple cider that is just what you need to get warmed up before your trek to Bowers Harbor Vineyards.  





You will then snowshoe from Brys Estate through the vineyards and trees to Bowers Harbor Vineyards. This trek is approximately 2/3 of a mile between the two tasting rooms and is sure to be full of laughs and good times with your group.  





At Bowers Harbor Vineyards, you will meet in the heated Pavilion for your tasting, where you can choose five tastings out of ten choices, two of which are Spirit Cider (definitely try the Peach-Apple and/or Cherry-Apple). Feel free to relax at one of the many picnic tables and roast a s’more or two at the outdoor fire pit, before making your way back to Jolly Pumpkin on the last leg of the trip. 







It is about 1/3 of a mile back to Jolly Pumpkin and the trail winds through the vineyards with beautiful views of Lake Michigan. Once back at Jolly Pumpkin, you will enjoy a tasting of beer, wine, and/or spirits. I love the tasting at Jolly Pumpkin because they have the most delicious sour beers on the planet, and I like ending the adventure with a swift whiskey (the Old Mission Rye is my jam). Plus, the view from their patio of West Bay is unreal.  I highly suggest staying for lunch. Try the house-smoked pork nachos and thank me later.  





The purpose of Snowshoe, Wine & Brew is to get people outside, experiencing our Tasting Rooms during winter, trying new wines, ciders, spirits, and beers, and enjoying what northern MI has to offer. I can’t recommend this event enough and do it (at least twice) every single winter, each time being as fun as the last. This is the perfect way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, to bring your friends on when they are visiting from out of town, or the activity to plan your entire trip around. It’s good for all ages and abilities and will take place with snow or without (in which case, you would just hike).  

Tickets are only $28 per person and include five tastings at each Tasting Room, your transportation from TC Brew Bus, and a souvenir glass to take home. After your scheduled start time the trek is taken at your leisure, so you can take your time if you’d like to share a charcuterie board at Brys Estate, or enjoy a glass of wine or pint of Spirit Cider at Bowers Harbor Vineyards. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here: https://www.tcbrewbus.com/events/







As always, we LOVE to see the fun you have at our establishments! Please tag us @BowersHarborVineyards, @JollyPumpkinTC, @BrysEstate, @TCbrewbus on both Facebook and Instagram. Cheers! 

Time Posted: Feb 14, 2020 at 7:49 AM Permalink to Grab Your Crew for Snowshoe, Wine, & Brew! Permalink
Alaina Dodds
January 18, 2020 | Alaina Dodds

2019: A Year for the Books!

Wow, 2019 was an amazing year for BHV. It was TOUGH to put together our Top 9 as it could have easily been Top 18 (or Top 27), but either way, it was wonderful to reflect on all of the positives we had throughout the year.

1) We have to start with our guests - NONE of what we do would be possible without the loyal support from all of you, especially our beloved Wine Club Members. Cheers to each and every one of you.

2) Next up, our incredible staff. We come from all walks of life, with all different backgrounds, skill-sets, and strengths, and we are truly a family. Each day is a treat to work together and it just keeps getting better and better. Thank you, Team BHV!

3) We had several widely popular new releases this year, but the winner hands down was our Ten Hands Riesling, which was grown by Tom and Claudine Petzold and made by Bryan Ulbrich. If you didn't get your hands on the 2018 vintage, don't worry - there will be a 2019 vintage, but you will likely have to be a Wine Club Member to get it 

4) Our years of hard work paid off as we finally obtained our Winery Chateau status on Old Mission Peninsula.

5) We had the Grand Opening of our Wine Library! We've had many celebrations in there already but looking forward to many more in 2020. We also celebrate the fact that Linda and Spencer had the foresight to SAVE bottles from each vintage over the past 28 years so we even have the opportunity for this amazing Wine Library today.

6) We always raise a glass to our Wine Makers, Bryan Ulbrich and Charles Schmidt. Year after year they impress us with technique, creativity, and raw talent.

7) We debuted our gorgeous Tasting Room mural, painted by the talented artist, Ann Robinson, which highlights 25 years of BHV history. Truly a work of ART!

8) We cherish our relationships with all of our partners, from distributors and restaurants to the other amazing wineries on OMP. Thank you for all you do.

9) Last, but certainly not least, cheers to all the dogs of BHV (and their humans). We see hundreds (thousands?) of dogs each year and each one of them puts a smile on our face.

The New Year is here! This is always a special time for all of us at Bowers Harbor Vineyards and we anticipate great things for 2020 as we enter our 29th year. HUGE thanks to all of YOU! You are part of our BHV family, and we appreciate your love and support. We all raise our glasses to you and wish you a happy and healthy 2020. Cheers!

Time Posted: Jan 18, 2020 at 11:29 AM Permalink to 2019: A Year for the Books! Permalink
Alaina Dodds
November 18, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

Wine Pairings for a Delicious Thanksgiving Feast

The most magical time of the year is nearly here with the holiday season right around the corner, when families and friends gather around the table and enjoy conversation, great food and, of course, plenty of wine. Although this time is wonderful and we look forward to it all year long, it can also be stressful! Families don’t always get along, cooking for a lot of people isn’t easy, juggling work/kids/travel schedules, etc can be difficult. Well, we have one solution to it all...WINE. Always wanting to make your lives easier, we’ve created the perfect Thanksgiving meal for you, with each course expertly paired with our wines and the reasoning behind the wine choices. So, sit back and enjoy the read. 

Appetizers and Cuvee Evan  

We always like to start festivities out with some bubbly. It’s celebratory, pairs so easily and is light and airy before a big meal. I LOVE our 2016 Cuvee Evan, Blanc de Blanc with baked brie, homemade potato chips or even spicy chicken wings! If you want something a bit fruitier, then a great choice would be Brix.  

Main Meal with Rosé, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Block II, and Bowers Harbor Red 

Stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, candied carrots – oh my mouth is watering! Get out your stretchy pants people because we are going to stuff ourselves with deliciousness. I love serving all the wine with the main meal, giving lots of options for everyone. So, I will put out Rose, Pinot Noir which is a chameleon with food pairing because it is neither a white nor red. It’ll provide some fruitiness, some tartness, as well as some earthy notes on the finish. It’s technically a dry wine, but a people-pleaser! I’ll also add Riesling, Block II to the mix, not only because it’s my favorite wine on the planet but because very few wines can manage green vegetables (like green bean casserole or brussels sprouts) as Rieslings can. In addition, the acidity of the wine cleanses the palate between bites of heavier gravy, meat, and stuffing. With turkey, I like to serve a lighter red, which is where Bowers Harbor Red comes in. It offers fruit notes for the cranberry sauce, it’s not heavy since turkey is a lighter meat, and you will get some hints of smoke on the finish from the barrel-aging that works amazingly well with potatoes and stuffing.  

Dessert and Ice Apple Cider 

This pairing is a staple time and time again, pumpkin cheesecake with Ice Apple Cider. Believe me, when I say, it’s MAGIC and you want it on your holiday table this year.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how these pairings turned out. Wishing you all the happiest of holiday seasons! 

Click on the highlighted wine names to go directly to each wine to shop, or click here to shop all wine. 

Time Posted: Nov 18, 2019 at 8:29 AM Permalink to Wine Pairings for a Delicious Thanksgiving Feast Permalink
Alaina Dodds
November 17, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

Riesling, Block II: A Favorite of Yours, Mine and Our Wine Makers!

I remember when I first started working in the Tasting Room at Bowers Harbor Vineyards about six years ago, I thought I disliked Riesling because “it is too sweet.” It didn’t take long for me to learn that the Riesling grape is the most dynamic grape of them all, meaning it can be extra dry, extra sweet, and everything in between. Currently, we have seven Rieslings on our menu, and they range from dry, like our Block II that I’m featuring today in this blog to dessert style with our Whaleback. If I had to choose only one wine to drink for the rest of my life (oh, the horror!) I would choose our Riesling, Block II. It turns out, it’s not only my favorite wine but it’s also our Wine Maker Bryan Ulbrich’s, too!  



Block II has taken home many prestigious awards over the years and is not only our most awarded wine but also one of the most awarded Rieslings in the whole country. Some recent awards include Best of Class at the Long Beach Grand Cru, Gold at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, Double Gold at the San Fransisco Invitational, Double Gold at the San Fransisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and has received 93 points with the James Suckling Report. 

The Wine 

Bright and fresh, Rieslings epitomize the beauty of a clear Michigan summer day. Riesling flourishes in our Northern climate and is putting Michigan on the map with award-winning wines. Our Block II Riesling is one of these wines. The 2018 vintage is the driest in our Riesling line-up, with only half a percent of residual sugar. Crisp acidity accentuates the palate and brings forth mouth-watering notes of tart grapefruit pith. Move over, sweet Riesling! Dry Riesling has earned its moment in the limelight! 

The Grapes 

100% estate-grown and hand-harvested exclusively from our Block II Vineyard, with rows planted East-West, the sun exposure on the grape clusters bring forth higher Brix levels on the south-facing clusters, and lower Brix levels on those facing north. This variance brings complexity to the wine, which makes each sip a new experience. 

Tasting Notes 

Block II Riesling offers up grapefruit pith and cardamom on the nose, with a palate suggesting orange, grapefruit, and lemon pith. Hints of minerality on the finish. 

Pairing Suggestions 

Grilled sea scallops in butter sauce; Sushi; Sharp cheddar cheese. 

Riesling for the Win

Riesling is one of the great white varietals of the world, with its incredible versatility (from bone-dry to dessert-sweet) to its terroir-expressiveness, no matter where it’s grown, it’s a force to be reckoned with! 

Time Posted: Nov 17, 2019 at 12:21 PM Permalink to Riesling, Block II: A Favorite of Yours, Mine and Our Wine Makers! Permalink
Alaina Dodds
October 23, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

Celebrating Exceptional Wine with Ten Hands Riesling

While we do tend to celebrate single-vineyard Rieslings all year round around here, we have an extra special vintage to celebrate right now. Our just-released Ten Hands Riesling made from grapes grown by vineyard owners and wine aficionados, Tom and Claudine Petzold and crafted by our winemaker, Bryan Ulbrich. We released this wine less than a month ago and we are already almost completely sold out of it, that's how good it is...61 cases are now being enjoyed by many Wine Club members. Because of it its limited quantity to start, we only offered the sale of it to Wine Club members - just another perk of being part of the BHV family. Are you a member yet? If not, learn more about why it's the best Wine Club around HERE

A Little About Tom, Claudine and Ten Hands 

Tom brings a depth of wine knowledge and a love of sharing it to the Bowers Harbor Vineyards staff. His ready smile and passion for wine make the tasting room experience both fun and educational. Tom is our Vineyard Tour Guide Specialist and grows grapes from his Ten Hands Vineyard for BHV. 

Tom’s employment at the historic Pontchartrain Wine Cellars Restaurant in Detroit gave him his first exposure to the world of wine. His subsequent 17-year sojourn in Europe while working for the U.S Air Force afforded him the opportunity to deepen his love and respect for fine wine. Tom and Claudine found time to explore some of the oldest and most recognized wine regions in the world and gladly embraced the European tradition of enjoying wine as a part of daily life. 
Tom and Claudine moved to Traverse City from Washington DC in June 2007 after they formally retired from careers in the government and teaching.  A native of France, Claudine has lived in several European countries as well as various parts in the USA. Horticulture has always been one of her interests, beginning when she worked on her family farm in France and during harvest in the Champagne and Alsace areas.  

Claudine particularly enjoys working outside in the summer, tending to her vegetable and flower garden as well as helping Tom in their vineyard, taking care of their 2000 misbehaving children, i.e.  Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Auxerrois. 
Here is a little video of Tom and Claudine talking about their amazing vineyard, Ten Hands. 

Ten Hands Vineyard faces a cool East Bay, situated on the northeastern shore of Old Mission Peninsula. The soil is sandy loam with mixed concentrations of clay and gravel.  The glacier movements mixed the soil, so it both drains well, has very little concentrated sand, contains moderate humus, and is a bit alkaline in pH.  For fruits, including grapes, this is ideal. Tom and Claudine enhance the soil with annual compost additions and by planting a vast mix of grasses and legumes in the row middles.  

Tasting Notes

Ten Hands Riesling is truly a treat for your taste buds; think green apple peel and lime on the nose and green pear, nectarine and lychee fruit on the palate. 

Food Pairing

One of the most fun parts about drinking wine is pairing it with food! I love thinking outside the box and pairing with accessible and low maintenance food because I still think there is a misconception that wine should be paired with fancy foods like lobster and filet mignon.

Here's my take on a fun pairing with the delicious Ten Hands Riesling.

Bacon-and-Egg Pizza  


  • 6 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch lardons 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting 
  • 1 pound pizza dough 
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche 
  • 3 ounces Brie, thinly sliced (with rind, if desired) 
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded 
  • Snipped chives, for garnish 


Step 1: Set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°. Spread the bacon in a pie plate and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once, until nearly crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. 

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream and a pinch of salt. In a medium nonstick skillet, cook the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the butter over low heat, whisking frequently, until small curds form and the eggs are creamy, about 12 minutes. Remove the eggs from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt. 

Step 3: On a lightly floured work surface, stretch out the pizza dough to a 12-inch round and transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel. Spread the crème fraîche evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with the crispy bacon, Brie and mozzarella. 

Step 4: Slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake for about 7 minutes, until lightly golden and bubbling. Remove the pizza from the oven and spoon the scrambled eggs on top. Slide the pizza back onto the stone and bake for 2 minutes longer, until the eggs are hot. Garnish with chives, cut into wedges and serve. 

If you don't have Ten Hands Riesling, this recipe would also pair well with our Riesling, Medium Sweet. Give it a try and let us know what you think! 

Celebrating Excellence

Gifted winemaking, committed to extracting maximum characteristics from the grapes, creates this exceptionally lovely Riesling. If you didn't get your hands on the 2018 vintage, don't worry - there will be a 2019 vintage. We just harvested the grapes last week! To tide you over, here is a gorgeous photo that Tom took of his grapes a couple of weeks before harvest, when they were plump and juicy, soaking up the last bits of sunshine. 



Time Posted: Oct 23, 2019 at 10:58 AM Permalink to Celebrating Exceptional Wine with Ten Hands Riesling Permalink
Alaina Dodds
July 2, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

The Dirty Truth About Vines

A couple months ago, we had soil (and all things wine) extraordinaire, Dave Bos, come out to our vineyards to talk dirty to us. He spoke with our staff on the value of high-quality soil, soil composition and how it affects our plant growth, grape development and ultimately, how much it matters for quality wine. It was very enlightening! Then last week, he was so kind to come out again to teach us about the actual plant growth itself, the lifecycle of vinifera grapes. We learned a ton and I wanted to share a recap of that here.  

Healthy Soil

The health of our vines depends directly on the health of the soil. Our focus is on treating the soil with care so that it can provide solid vine growth. Healthy land means happier vines which translates to higher quality grapes. Each of our vines is handled individually 10-12 times per year, which means that they get a lot of personal attention. If we didn’t pay such close attention to our vines, they would naturally grow into a bushy mess of leaves and branches. Meticulous pruning helps the vines stay nice and organized with their energy focused on growing impeccable grapes.  

The soil we have is sandy loam. Sandy loam is in between sand and silt in the soil texture triangle.  

Sandy loam is porous, so it drains easily, which is important here due to the amount of rain we do get. The soil structure will and can change the growth of the vines. When combined with other healthy biodiverse strategies, the entire environment, which makes up the terroir, becomes energized to produce better quality grapes, that stand out in the wine. We believe it's one of the reasons that BHV produces outstanding wines year after year. 

Grapevines are perennial plants, meaning that they grow in spring, bloom over summer, then die back over the winter months, and then repeats its cycle from its rootstock the following spring. I found this diagram of the yearly lifecycle of a grapevine from Wine Folly. I love it!

Depending on the weather, bud break here typically starts mid-June and this is where 100% of the vine is focused on growing. Then it will self-pollinate and flower where we will remove the leaves from the fruit zone to enhance direct sun exposure to the fruit, then fruit set (grapes) and then veraison (the grapes will change color and sweeten). Once veraison starts, 100% of the plant’s energy will move toward veraison and the vines themselves will quit growing. We are constantly pruning our vines (hedging, removing suckers, leafing) to keep the energy where it needs to be. We’ve had a cool and rainy season so far, so bud break was a bit behind schedule. But the good news is, veraison is what determines harvest, not bud break. So, fingers crossed for a long and hot fall! 

Time Posted: Jul 2, 2019 at 12:50 PM Permalink to The Dirty Truth About Vines Permalink
Alaina Dodds
June 25, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

Riesling Roundtable

Last night I participated in a Riesling Roundtable discussion put on by Michigan Wine Collaborative and joined by myself, Chateau Chantal, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Amoritas Vineyards and St. Julian Winery. It was an online conversation on Twitter talking all things Michigan Riesling and it was so fun! I thought I’d break down the conversation into our talking points and share them here.  

Here’s what we discussed: 

What makes Riesling a good variety for Michigan vineyards? 


It’s cold hardy so it can survive in cold temperatures in Winter. It blooms late, like Pinot Noir, so it doesn’t get frosted if we get cool nights in Spring. It likes our cool growing region and historically it grows in similar climates throughout the world. Riesling does well in sandy, clay and gravel soil compositions, which is what we have – the proximity to water helps as well to regulate the temperature. Because Riesling likes to grow here, can be made into a wide variety of styles and gets a decent cropping year after year, it’s a great crop for farmers – environmentally and economically. 

Riesling has transparency that reflects where it’s grown – there’s no hiding the terroir! What better way to show off Riesling than in Northern Michigan! 

What is the most notable characteristic of a Riesling fermentation? 


Acidity lays the foundation and balance of the wine and is more important than anything because it dictates how the wine will be. Our cool nights here slow down the ripeness of the grapes so we can keep the acidity longer (which is a good thing!).  

A characteristic that shows particularly well in our Riesling wines is the floral spice. When tasting through the various Rieslings from different wineries last night, there were several people mentioning the spice that they detected in Old Mission Peninsula wines that wasn’t apparent in wine from Leelanau Peninsula. I just think that is so fascinating: the same style wine grown just a few miles away has a distinct flavor profile.  

The stone fruit and aromatics are the fun and pretty side of Rieslings grown in this area. 

What are some of the challenges that come with making different styles of Riesling? 


A major challenge that we run into in the Tasting Room is people’s perception that all Rieslings are sweet. A lot of people are not aware that Riesling is the diamond of grapes, meaning it is multi-faceted. Currently, we have SIX Rieslings on our menu ranging from very dry to very sweet and everything in between, including a sparkling Riesling.  

Another challenge is educating people on how well a Riesling can age. Because Rieslings are so bright and pretty when they are young, people love to drink them right away. But, if you don’t let some of your Rieslings age, you are missing out on a delicious experience. Over time, Riesling can show off a wide array of flavors. Few people get to enjoy an older Riesling because they are so enjoyable when they are young. Pulling library wines to show the full depth and complexity of different vintages of the same wine (called a vertical tasting) is where a Tasting Room can really educate and open the minds of the consumer.  

Key Takeaway: Save your Rieslings, they are MAGICAL when they are older. 

How long has MI been growing Riesling? 


Our first Riesling plants were planted in 1991 and our first bottle was produced in 1994 (yes, it takes THAT LONG to get a bottle of wine). We were the second wave of Riesling being planted. The first in our area was Chateau Grand Traverse who started growing vinifera grapes in the 70’s. 

Which Rieslings are most popular in Tasting Room? Direct to Consumer? Retail? 


Our Late Harvest style Rieslings (Late Harvest and Medium Sweet) are still the most popular across the board with distribution and in our Tasting Room, but the wine that is growing more and more in sales each year is our Medium Dry. Hopefully this means we are cracking the bias that all Riesling wines are sweet.  

Our most awarded white wine is our Block II, which is our driest Riesling. Not only is it our most awarded white wine, it is one of the most awarded Rieslings in the whole country. Have you tried it yet?  

What do you do in the Vineyards to make Rieslings stand out in the glass? Tasting Room? Cellar?


Vineyards: We do not over grow our Riesling plants. We do VSP (vertical shoot positioning) and only have 8 shoots per plant. We purposely limit the number of clusters on each plant, ensuring every cluster is developed and well nourished. Each plant is touched 10-12 times per year – so we are constantly pruning and removing suckers to keep the plants in optimal health. 

Cellar: In the cellar, we let the grapes and the vintage dictate the style that we are trying to make, rather than manipulating wine. We don’t add sugar to Rieslings, we only use natural sugars so it’s just the real quality flavor of the grape itself. Northern MI Riesling grapes are harvested in a cool climate, which means managing the pace of fermentation in the cellar is easier to control. This is VERY difficult in warm climate because the speed of which all of this can happen is within a week or two. We have months, it’s a slow and patient watch of the wines.  

Tasting Room: Employee education is crucial. We are huge on education here and making sure that the staff understands the differences between all the Riesling styles, what pairs well with each and why, etc. Also, taking our guests through vertical tastings is one way to show the complexity of each style of Riesling.  

All in all, this Riesling Roundtable discussion was a great experience! To follow along with the entire conversation and to learn more, follow #MIRiesling on Twitter.  If you have any questions about these topics, feel free to reach out to me directly at alaina@bowersharbor.com.

Time Posted: Jun 25, 2019 at 7:39 AM Permalink to Riesling Roundtable Permalink
Alaina Dodds
May 21, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

The Michigan Wine Chair 2.0

It's Michigan Wine Month!


What better way to celebrate than by drinking a glass of delicious local wine, while sitting in a Michigan state shaped chair, and getting your back massaged all at the same time! Check out the GENIUS invention (which should be next to the term Self Care in the Urban Dictionary), the Michigan Wine Chair 2.0 created by Thompson Woodworks.  Does it get any better than this?! We think not!

(bonus: the wine being poured is Bowers Harbor Vineyards 2896 Langley πŸ·).


Time Posted: May 21, 2019 at 6:17 PM Permalink to The Michigan Wine Chair 2.0 Permalink