Planning a New Year’s Eve celebration? The New Year can be such an exciting time, full of fresh starts and future plans. It makes sense to ring it in with your closest family and friends. Popping open a bottle of bubbly is a surefire way to get the party started. But keeping the party going is another story, you don’t want to have to pour bottle after bottle throughout the night. Setting up a self-serve champagne bar will not only stretch your bubbly supply with the addition of juices and liquors, it will also leave you free to hang with your guests and actually enjoy your own bash.
So put some bubbly on ice, stock up on aperitifs and fresh juices, and gather up some other garnishes. Here’s how to set up the ultimate bubbly bar:
Skip the high-end vintage Champagne. Opt for a dry, domestic, sparkling wine. One bottle of bubbly is enough for about eight cocktails, so keep your RSVP list in mind when shopping. My personal favorites are:
Experimentation is half the fun of a self-service Champagne bar, so make sure to gather up a wide range of liqueurs and spirits. Some of my favorites include:
Dry Champagne works well with most juices, so encourage your guests to mix, match and try something they otherwise wouldn’t order at a bar. I suggest stocking up on the following:
Not only will a variety of garnishes make your bubbly cocktails look beautiful, booze-soaked fruit is always a treat to find at the bottom of your flute. Set up bowls of raspberries, strawberries and cranberries for guests to plop into their bubbly libations. Pre-cut lemon and grapefruit twists are also great flavor enhancers and a lot of fun.
Now that your bubbly bar is all set up, it’s time to make the cocktails. Fill a large bucket with ice to keep a few opened bottles on hand. Store the extra bottles in the fridge for later use.
Label your booze, mixers and garnishes with note cards, mini chalkboards or simply line a table with butcher paper and write ingredient names directly on the surface. Set out Champagne flutes, jiggers and bar spoons.
While I say go ahead and experiment with new flavors and inventing unique cocktails, here are a few of my favorite classic combinations to get you started.
Hope this inspires you to set up your own version of bubbly bar, I know that I have never NOT had a good time at a party where there’s been a self-serve bar...
Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all a safe and fun holiday! Cheers to 2018!
This is one of the most fun things to do in the winter. Who doesn’t like snowshoeing through the beautiful vineyards and wine tasting with a group of friends or as a fun day date? This tour starts at Jolly Pumpkin where the Brew Bus will pick you up and drop you off at Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery. From there you will snowshoe a marked trail to Bowers Harbor Vineyards, and then follow the interpretive trail back to Jolly Pumpkin. Enjoy 5 tastes and glass specials at each spot!
Our brand new Spirit Cider Society is here!
Join in December for only $125!
*Starting January 1st, $150 one-time joining fee
Delight your family and friends with a special gift basket created just for them! We've curated a few of our favorite gifts inside the basket for them to enjoy. A gift basket is a unique wedding, holiday or housewarming gift! We have a few different options available, just click on Gift Basket above to check them out!
Our Brut Rosé came out on top in a recent poll as to what people would prefer to get under their tree at Christmas and we think it’s a wonderful gift to give or get all year long. There’s just something about bubbles that screams “Celebrate!”
Gift cards are the perfect gift for someone who has everything! They can be used on wine and merchandise both. We have two different gift cards to serve every gifting need.
There are some people who don’t think saving evidence of how many bottles of wine you drink is cool…but we aren’t one of them. We have a wide variety of decorative cork cages that you can use to save the corks from your favorite wines and remember the memories for years to come.
Our wine club membership is amazing. It is one of the few wine club memberships that is customizable to your liking! We pick our favorites each quarter but if you’d rather have something different, then we will switch them out! We have three different clubs to choose from and offer a ton of fun in the form of wine club dinners and tasting room perks.
Everyone can use a date night, right? Wow your special someone with a special night, just for the two of you. Click on the link above to view the menu, it is sure to impress!
There are few things I’d rather get as a gift than a case of wine….I mean WHO wouldn’t want that? Our mix & match options gives you the chance to choose your favorites, their favorites, some new ones AND a cider or two. All orders of a case of wine automatically get 15% off!
Because your pooch deserves it.
Since it is Opening Day for (rifle) deer season, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recent episode of Michigan Out of Doors that Spencer Stegenga, Proprietor of Bowers Harbor Vineyards and Doug Koch, Owner of Boathouse Restaurant, were featured on. If you’re not familiar with the show, it airs all over Michigan and highlights all things outdoors from hunting and fishing, new gear and apps to recipes with local chefs. It’s a well-put-together show with charismatic and knowledgeable people in the forefront and behind the scenes.
The particular episode aired in October and covered Spencer and Doug hunting pheasants at the Thundering Aspens Sportsman Club, a private hunting club in Mesick, MI. They offer pheasant, grouse, quail, waterfowl, turkey, Hungarian partridge and woodcock. They have over 600 acres and are in their 30th year of business, opening in 1987. There are currently 220 members and they have a growing waiting list. Their personal goal is for the pheasants to make it through the winter and hatch out chicks in the spring, so they stop shooting hens in December. 300 – 400 are expected to make it through the winter and are native-hatched. Spencer said the hunt was a lot of fun, they got about 19 birds that morning, mostly roosters and a few hens.
I also learned all about the HuntWise app during this episode, a sportsman tracker where hunting meets high technology. HuntWise developed the strongest hunt algorithm, HuntCast, which offers 14 different species to choose from and predicts the optimal kill time for each. It was designed to help hunters improve their success in the outdoors by utilizing advanced tracking and technology. It’s also helpful in “hunting down” (see what I did there…) the property lines and other land owner information so you can contact them to ask if you can hunt on their property. This app also connects hunters to a community of dedicated sportsman to seek and share advice. You can learn more and download the app here.
Looking for something different to do with the venison in your freezer? Try this delicious recipe by Chef Jim Wood from Antlers Fireside Grill, located just outside of Big Rapids, MI. We suggest pairing this meal with a bottle of Bowers Harbor Vineyard’s spicy and complex 2016 Claret, Wind Whistle, which is a 50/50 blend of Cab Franc and Merlot.
Venison cutlets with Biscuits and Gravy
2 venison loin medallions cut half an inch thick
1 cup flour seasoned with 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder and ½ tsp mustard powder
3 tbsp butter
salt to taste
1. Pound venison medallions until they are thin like a cutlet
2. Melt butter over medium high heat
3. Coat venison in seasoned flour and season with salt to taste
4. Once pan begins to barely smoke and all butter is melted add cutlets to pan and cook to desired doneness
5. Remove from heat and set aside
4 tbsp butter
½ an onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp flour
1lb breakfast sausage
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
Salt to taste
1. Over medium heat melt butter
2. Add onion, garlic and sausage
3. Break up sausage into small bits until completely cooked through
4. Add flour and whisk to incorporate
5. Slowly add cream and stock whisking vigorously
6. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
7. Simmer on low for 10 minutes
8. Add salt to taste
1. Top with venison cutlet
2. Ladle sausage gravy over venison cutlet
3. Place top of biscuits over gravy
4. Ladle more sausage gravy over top of biscuits
Michigan has so much to offer! In just one episode we learned about salmon fishing on the Betsie River, bird hunting with Thundering Aspens Sportman Club, how the HuntWise app makes it easier for hunters to pursue their passions and learned a new way to cook venison to boot! Huge thanks to Michigan Out of Doors for sharing these experiences with us!
Last Wednesday, Wine Specialist Tom took our tasting room staff on a brix tour. We were able to walk around the vineyards and test the brix levels in the fruit, and also learn about pH levels and acid content. It was AMAZING learning about how much goes into the testing and preparation of the vines and grapes (AKA berries). The timing of harvest is key and thus testing the berries on key metrics is vital: sugar, acid, pH and phenolics, the latter having few metrics. On top of everything that needs to be measured, all grape varietals need to be picked at different times and each have their own ripening schedule.
Measuring the levels of brix in a berry is how you figure out the sugar content. The sugar level itself is measured with a refractometer. The juice is placed on the refractometer lens and light travels through the juice to refract on a degree scale. The thicker the juice the more it bends the light and the higher the brix that registers on the scale.
2) Acid content
Organic acids are responsible for the various levels of bitter tastes in the wine and have influence on the wine’s stability, color and pH. It is perhaps the most critical of the measured components. Don't forget...wine is an acidic beverage after all.
3) Level of pH
pH is the measure of a balance of active acidity in the juice and wine, so acid and pH are directly related. Generally white grapes are harvested at pH level of 3.1 – 3.3 and red grapes at 3.3 – 3.5. A pH meter is used to measure pH. Before this is done the grower and the winemaker can taste the berry and get a feel for the sugar and pH ripeness.
In addition to using the technical tools to measure the ripeness, you should also be tasting the fruit along the way.
All in all we had a lot of fun as a group testing the brix levels and learning about each varietal and what to do look for. Interested to learn more about this topic yourself? We offer private and group vineyard tours! Click here to learn more about what we offer and to sign up for one, they are a blast!
Hope you enjoyed this edition of Through the Vines and Behind the Scenes! If you missed Part One, you can catch up here and stay tuned for Part Three!
(Available in our Tasting Room and Online Store very soon. Stay tuned!)
(Available in our Tasting Room and Online Store very soon. Stay tuned!)
One of my very favorite things to do is to host cocktail parties for my friends. I love getting everyone together relaxing and catching up. As much fun as the actual party is, it isn’t exactly stress-free deciding what to serve and getting everything ready. Gone are the days when I can throw some Doritos in a bowl and some Bud Light in a cooler and call it a day. Now, there is a little bit of pressure to serve something that people actually want to eat and drink, and also something a little outside the norm. Say hello to wine and cheese. A match made in culinary Heaven.
Last week, the Bowers Harbor Vineyards staff was treated to a wine/cheese pairing put together by our Chef Morgan. It was beyond delicious and we all learned so much about what wines go with which cheeses, and why. It was so cool to see what happens to the flavor profiles of both the cheese and the wine when tried separately, and then together. All of the cheeses from this evening were from The Cheese Lady, if you haven’t been to her shop in Downtown Traverse City, definitely make a point to visit. Delicious! They also have locations in Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Farmington and Rochester.
I’ll take you through the pairings just as we tried them. Print this off, save it, serve a few of these at your next happy-hour get together, and you are sure to wow your guests. I serve mine on a chalk-board serving dish that I can write on to let guests know which cheeses are which. Similar to this one on Etsy. Side note: these trays are also a perfect housewarming gift!
1. Delice de Bourgogne- a French classic triple crème brie-style cheese originating from the Burgundy region of France. The cheese is made through the process of blending a high fat cow’s milk cheese with crème fraiche that gives it a very creamy light texture almost like a whipped butter. Unlike many brie’s of this style it has a very heavy bloomed rind that gives it an earthy note on the palate.
The Blanc de Blanc Cuvee Evan, makes a great pairing. The fine bubbles help to cut through the heavy fat content of the cheese.
2. Capra- This Belgium chevre is a unique style goat cheese, which the goats are grazed on herbs and grasses on the hills of the Ardennes and it's made with the local honey which gives this cheese a hint of sweetness.
Pinot Noir Rose, a light, dry Rose will help to cut back on the sweetness while also helping to bring out the fruit flavor of the wine.
3. Fresh Ricotta- Made from whole milk, this is a creamy rich cheese with a little sweetness and tanginess.
Our Pinot Grigio has a very crisp and clean taste that will help to cut through the heavy rich cheese and bring out the refreshing citrus in the wine.
4. Fontina Fontal- found commonly in Northern Italy, is a younger, creamier style of Fontina. A lighter style of cheese with just a touch of sweetness and a very mild flavor.
Our Wind Whistle Gewurztraminer is very fitting in its light refreshing flavor with just a hint of sweetness to match the intensity of the Fontina Fontal.
5. Prairie Breeze- An interesting twist on a hard-white cheddar, it's crumbly with a creamy-crunchy finish. It is made on Mennonite farms in Iowa.
Riesling Block II – A refreshing, almost Sauvignon Blanc style of Riesling, works wonderfully to cut the sharpness of the cheese while giving it a more of the creamy mouthfeel.
6. Appenzeller- Found in the Appenzell region of northeast Switzerland, has a very strong herbal rind that is typically coated in wines or ciders to help its growth. This nutty, tangy cheese has a history documented over 700 years ago. A very pungent smelling cheese.
The sweetness of the Medium Sweet Riesling, will help to cut through some of the strength of this cheese, and bring out the nuttiness.
7. 12 month aged Manchego- Originating from La Mancha Spain, a very nutty semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.
The strong berry fruit flavors and the hint of smoke from our 2016 Pinot Noir are a wonderful way to complement the nutty firm texture and flavor of this aged Manchego.
8. Beemster Goat Gouda- The unique blue sea clay soil grows special grasses, that when ingested by the goats helps to produce a soft, sweeter style of Dutch Gouda.
Bowers Harbor Red is a lighter red, subtle raspberry and cherry fruit flavors complement the Beemster Goat Gouda.
9. Stilton- This pungent blue cheese is a staple in English cuisine. Stilton can only be made in 3 counties within the country (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire) and can only be made from 6 different dairies. This is a semisoft blue cheese with a very sharp must aromatic and flavor profile.
Maggie being a strong assertive red wine, will be a nice pairing for a stronger blue cheese.
(Editor's note: since our wine/cheese event, we have sold out of Maggie. We are in turn recommending our 2013 2896, Langley to go with the Stilton because of it's bold blend.)
10. Cambozola- This crème brie style blue cheese come from the German region of Allgau. The cheese is made by injecting a brie style cheese with the Penicillium roquefotri mold used in many strong blue cheeses. By doing this the cheese has a soft creamy texture, and not a pungent of an aroma, but the strong rich blue cheese flavor.
The richness of this cheese goes great with dessert style wine and liquors, both the Appletage and the Ice Cider make nice pairings to help cut through the strong blue cheese flavor and go nicely with the creamy texture.
Hope this list helps you decide which cheese and wine to serve at your next party. It sure helped me! All of the wine on this list can be purchased in our tasting room or at our online store. Click here to shop! Cheers!
I am now three weeks into my new position as Marketing Manager for Bowers Harbor Vineyards (BHV) and wow, I have learned a lot! I came into this position having been familiar with BHV for years, as I’ve helped in the tasting room here and there during busy seasons and events, am an avid wine drinker myself and have a passion for the bustling wine scene here on Old Mission Peninsula. I have years of experience in the marketing world, which is also something I love and the opportunity to combine two of my biggest passions at my favorite winery is like a dream come true. I’m so excited to be here and learn all about the wine making process and everything behind the scenes. So hi! I’m Alaina Dodds and I look forward to meeting all of you when you visit us!
Visiting a winery and doing wine tastings with your family and friends is so much fun, right?! I’ve witnessed couples, singles, regulars, first-timers, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, groups of friends and families enjoying their time at BHV in just the past few weeks. I love watching the enjoyment on everyone’s faces.
It is our job to make working in the wine industry look and feel fun and carefree. We want you to come into our tasting room and truly relax, learn something, have some laughs and go home a little happier than you were before (and tell your friends about us).
What I have never really thought about…until now, is how much work actually goes into ONE bottle of wine! Or how much happens behind the scenes to ensure that the guests have a variety of high quality wine to choose from and that the staff is educated on the entire selection. The labor of wine is intensive, finicky, tough, stressful and oh so rewarding.
The grapes shown in this photo below are the Chardonnay grapes grown in the block of vines right in front of the tasting room. The first picking of these grapes will be in mid-to-late September and will make our 2017 vintage of Cuvee Evan Blanc de Blanc. This is really exciting because the fist vintage of this wine was in 2005, then 2009, then 2014 and this year’s will be our 2017 vintage which won’t be available until 2020, due to the three-year aging process. We follow the traditional champagne method (methode champenoise), which is universally acknowledged as producing the highest quality and most age-worthy sparkling wines.
The Chardonnay grapes are currently measuring 8-10 degrees brix and we want them to be at 19 brix before we harvest. Because we have had some cooler weather this summer, harvest will be a bit later than usual. We pick these grapes earlier in the harvest season because they retain more acid and not too much sugar. Acid helps the fruit characteristics come forward and also helps to have longer aging potential. This block of chardonnay grapes was planted in 1991 and has 750 vines. It’s incredible to think about how 26 years of growth and 750 vines of grapes can produce just a few kinds of wines. Our first picking of this block will be used to make our Cuvee Evan Blanc de Blanc and our second picking (once the residual sugar levels have increased) will make our Chardonnay RLS Reserve.
I know you don’t want to wait all the way until 2020 to try our Cuvee Evan Blanc de Blanc, good thing you don’t have to! We just released our 2014 vintage, we only have 90 cases though! You can pick up your own bottle ($38) or case when visiting our tasting room or by purchasing online here.
See you next time when we take another journey through the vines and behind the scenes at Bowers Harbor Vineyards!
One of the goals of Michigan’s tourism industry is to excel at customer service, to provide each visitor to our state an exceptional experience at every location they visit. It’s no coincidence that this is one of our goals at Bowers Harbor Vineyards as well.
This is called The Pure Michigan Promise:
This past fall, Michigan’s Tourism board ran a competition where communities or organizations across the state created and shared short videos to demonstrate what this promise means to them.
We were excited to submit a video that demonstrates what the promise means to us and how we deliver on it to you, our guests, our friends, our family.
While we did not make the top five videos, we were thrilled to enter our video and even more so, we are thankful to be a part of a community that cherishes and truly demonstrates The Pure Michigan Promise every day.
To view the top five entries, and to see the final compilation please click here.
The 2nd wine label art competition has started! Are you an artist? Enter your label design for the Mission Point Lighthouse wine only available at Bowers Harbor Vineyards. Click HERE for the application and instructions. Don't delay! Deadline is March 10th!
Our 2nd wine label art contest/fundraiser design winner reception party will be Friday, March 31st 2017 at Bowers Harbor Vineyards! Come out and be an art label judge! This is a fantastic fundraiser for the Mission Point Lighthouse. Lots of fun and raffle prizes too.
Questions or for information email firstname.lastname@example.org or
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