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Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Alaina Dodds
 
February 26, 2019 | Alaina Dodds

The Best of Winter: Traverse City Style

You know what’s tough? Michigan winters...and do you know what’s even tougher? THIS WINTER! It’s been brutally cold, we’ve had to shovel nonstop, and the other day actual ice balls were pelting me in the face while skiing. #MichiganStrong   

Winter blues are a real thing. They’re like Monday blues, except they last for like...5 months! I hear you, it’s cold and long and gray. But nothing will make you feel worse than laying on the couch every day and counting the minutes until May. You know the routine, go to work, come home, make dinner, Netflix. Weekends are similar but swap dinner for brunch and work with house cleaning. Rough city! Seriously, if you can survive winter in Michigan you can probably survive anything — but they don't have to be boring. Part of getting through the coldest, grayest months of the year is knowing how to make the most of them. 

I’m here to give you a list of all things glorious about Traverse City winters. Because after all, you do live in MI, and winter comes every year, and stays for months, so you better just get used to it. Next time you’re sad or bored or feeling claustrophobic, go outside. Put on your winter coat (long underwear, gloves, hat, face mask, snow pants, wool socks, hand and feet warmers, waterproof boots...) and go outside! We live in a Winter Wonderland!  

Top Things to do during Winter in Traverse City 

 

Snowshoe Wine and Brew 

Photo Credit: Jolly Pumpkin

This weekly (can you say SUNDAY FUNDAY!) event happens every winter from end of December until middle of March and is so much fun, you might want to do it every single week. You and all your friends meet at Jolly Pumpkin before being shuttled by the always FUN Brew Bus team to Brys Estate for wine tasting at their gorgeous winery. Sit back and relax while making the tough decision of red, white or rosé (and you don’t have to choose, you can try all of them!) before strapping on your snow shoes and heading to the next stop, Bowers Harbor Vineyards. Enjoy another tasting here and warm up a bit in our heated pavilion and by the roaring fire at the outdoor fire pit. You like S’mores? We have them! And, don’t forget to try a Spirit Cider flavor! When you’re ready to burn off those calories you just drank, you’ll snowshoe back to Jolly Pumpkin for your final tasting, which can consist of wine, beer and/or spirits! Warm up in their cozy restaurant for some well-deserved lunch. Find out all Snowshoe Wine and Brew information and book your reservations here.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Igloo at Hop Lot 

Photo Credit: Hop Lot

I LOVE Hop Lot! What a fun, chill way to spend happy hour or Saturday/Sunday. They have a wide selection of delicious craft brews and the ultimate Winter accessory...IGLOOS! You can reserve the igloos for free by the hour and they’re perfect for a birthday or anniversary celebration. Hop Lot is family-friendly, they have board games to play and sell S’more packs that you and the kids can use by the outdoor fire pits. I love stopping at Mawby on the way for a glass of sparkling wine, which is always beyond delish. And while I’m at it, I also love stopping at another one of my favorite Traverse City wineries, Rove Estate for a glass of red while gazing out of their windows at the glorious snow-covered vineyards. Sigh, so beautiful. 

Photo Credit: Rove Estate

Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding is SO FUN. I’ll say it again louder for the people in the back. Skiing IS SO FUN! We are lucky to be surrounded by so many hills to ski on, such as Mt. Holiday and Hickory Hills (both perfect for kiddos), Shanty Creek Resorts, Boyne Highlands, Nub's Nob, and Crystal Mountain. Some of us from BHV take one of our days off, usually a Monday, and head out to ski. We brainstorm new ideas in the car on the way there and back, on the chairlifts and over a couple beers at lunch. I swear some of our best ideas have been hatched during Ski Mondays. It helps to get out of the office, get some exercise, and best of all, get some fresh perspective. Bonding with each other through healthy activities is good for the soul! Enjoy night skiing? You can join 106 KHQ at Schuss Mountain on Wednesday nights from 5pm - 9pm for only $10 per lift ticket! 

 

 

 

 
Mission Point Lighthouse 

One of my favorite places on Earth is Mission Point Lighthouse. It is BEAUTIFUL, peaceful and serene during all times of the year but there is just something extra special about it during the Winter. If you’re lucky you can get miles and miles of fresh tracks through the well-marked trail system. The trails are great for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Does your dog seem bored or depressed? They get cabin fever too! Bring them on your hike and I guarantee you’ll laugh the entire time watching them run and play in the fluffy snow. Shameless plug here: Did you know that Bowers Harbor Vineyards does a fundraiser every year for Mission Point Lighthouse? We are going on our 4th year of fundraising and have donated approximately $6100 so far.  

Photo Credit: Michael Topp

Tubing at Mt. Holiday 

I went tubing for my first time a few weeks ago and now I am wondering WHY OH WHY did I wait so long to do this? It is SO FUN (see a pattern here?)! It’s a perfect activity that the whole family can enjoy and there is a great lodge to warm up in afterwards with good food and hot cocoa (AKA toddies). The worst part about sledding is climbing back up the hill after going down, right? No need to do that while tubing, just grab onto the tow rope and ride up in your tube! You can have all this fun for only $10!

  

Hike at Timbers Recreational Area

Have you been in this gorgeous trail system yet? If not, go ASAP! Picture 250 acres of rolling hills with views of three different lakes (Long, Fern and Page). The property is a combination of mesic northern hardwood forest, fields and riparian wetlands and is truly stunning. The trails are perfect for dogs, hiking and snowshoeing and many of the trails lead straight to the lake for easy ice-fishing access. To me, nature is peace and I absolutely love the serenity of this land, which is protected by The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

Get Outside 

The moral of my story is this...there are so many things to do in Winter and staying inside for 4-5 months straight isn’t good for anyone. Fresh air, fun and exercise are all needed for well-rounded lives and we are lucky to live in a place with so much to offer year-round!  

Don’t live in Traverse City? Here’s a list of fun for you to enjoy too (but come up and visit us soon!):

  • Build a Snowman 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Join a winter running league  
  • Ice-fishing 
  • Sledding 
  • Wine Tasting (any wineries, breweries with outdoor space near you?) 
  • Ice-skating 
  • Snow angels 
  • Have a family snowball fight 

What are your favorite Winter activities? Drop me a line and let me know at alaina@bowersharbor.com  

Time Posted: Feb 26, 2019 at 12:08 PM
Alaina Dodds
 
December 27, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

Spirit Cider Cocktails and a New Year's Day Brunch

It is VERY hard to believe but 2019 is right around the corner...no really it is, it’s in 5 days! I’ve been going back and forth about what I want to do for New Year's, how do I want to ring it in? I’ve decided that I want to switch it up this year and cook a New Year's Day brunch for me and my husband. But (here’s another twist), it will be a Spirit Cider-inspired brunch! Everyone goes the sparkling wine route for New Year’s Eve so I thought it would be fun to be bold with Spirit Cider instead. Here’s my menu if any of you want to try this too! 

Cocktails and Confessions 

Blueberry Cider Delight  

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz Tito's Vodka (or your favorite vodka)
  • Blueberry Spirit Cider
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Method

Muddle blueberries, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker tin. 

Add vodka and ice, and shake. 

Strain over fresh ice into a pint glass. 

Top with Blueberry Spirit Cider (fill the rest of your pint glass) and garnish with a lemon twist. 

Spirit Cider Mimosa 

Pay attention here, this one is tricky.... 

Ingredients: 

Method: 

Pour Spirit Cider into a Champagne flute, top with OJ and garnish with orange slice.

Voilà! 

Brunch Bunch 

Days where brunch is involved are the best days – am I right? You can sleep in, maybe get a workout in before (if you’re feeling feisty) and meet your friends for a hearty meal and a carafe (or 10) of mimosas. Then a nice long nap and you have had yourself a nice little Saturday. Sound familiar?  

What is brunch without carbs? It’s not brunch at all in my book! Here I am to introduce you to the carb of all brunch carbs...a Dutch Baby, which is a light and puffy/fluffy pancake that actually pairs amazingly well with our Spirit Cider.

Blueberry Dutch Baby

Serves two  

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 
  • 2 1/2 ounces (72 grams) all-purpose flour, approximately 1/2 cup 
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Powdered sugar, for serving 
  • Bluberries, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving 

Method:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Put 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan and heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool slightly. 

Pulse together the flour, sugar and salt in a blender or food processor. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter, and blend the batter until smooth and frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. 

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the center. Bake for 20 minutes, do not open the oven while baking. The Dutch baby will puff up in the center and the edges will be dark and crispy. 

Serve warm with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a handful of blueberries and lemon wedges for squeezing. 

Apple and Cheddar Quiche

Serves six (great leftover!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large apples (cored and cut into bite sized chunks) 
  • 1 cup Seven Apple Spirit Cider 
  • 4 strips bacon (cut into 1 inch pieces) 
  • 6 sheets phyllo (thawed as directed on package) 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary (chopped) 
  • 1 cup strong cheddar (grated) 
  • 4 eggs (lightly beaten) 
  • 1 cup half and half 

Method:

Simmer the apple slices in the Seven Apple Spirit Cider until they just start to turn tender, about 3-5 minutes, remove and set them aside. 

Simmer the remaining cider to reduce to about 2 tablespoons. 

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a pan and set aside. 

Brush a sheet of phyllo pastry with the olive oil and fit it into the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie dish or springform pan with the ends hanging over the side of the pan and repeat with the remaining sheets placing them on top. 

Toss the apple slices in the reduced cider and spread them out over the bottom of the pan. 

Sprinkle the bacon, rosemary and cheddar cheese on top of the apples. 

Mix the eggs and half and half, pour into the pan and fold the edges of the phyllo dough that is hanging over the sides. 

Bake in a preheated 375F oven until golden brown and set in the center, about 45 minutes (check every few minutes after 35 minutes for desired doneness).

Make ahead hint: I plan to make this on New Year’s Eve and just pop in the oven the next day.  

Enjoy!

I’d pair both of the above dishes with any of our fruity Spirit Ciders – and I AM going to pair them with BOTH of the Spirit Cider cocktails above. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

I'm wishing the best year yet for all of you, Happy New Year! 

Time Posted: Dec 27, 2018 at 10:06 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
July 31, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

A Day in the Life - Old Mission Peninsula

There’s not a day that goes by that I am not grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the Earth. Grateful to have access to all of the activities that Lake Michigan and Traverse City have to offer, as well as have the opportunity to eat and drink my way through the best food and libations around. However, as grateful as I am for it, I still need to remind myself to actually take the time to enjoy so many of these wonderful things. It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life, work, routine, etc. A friend of mine posted her ‘Summer Bucket List’ the other day and mentioned that she hadn’t even cracked the surface of what she wanted to do this summer and it got me thinking…neither have I! So, to hold myself accountable, here is my first blog in an upcoming series called "A Day in the Life".

It makes sense that I would start on Old Mission Peninsula because it has so much to offer. I had some friends visiting from downstate so it was a perfect excuse to escape responsibility and be a tourist.

We began our day here at Bowers Harbor Vineyards (surprise, surprise), playing cornhole (AKA bags) and life-size Jenga while enjoying snacks with our wine and Spirit Cider samples. I love the atmosphere here, the view is beautiful and it's a great place to kick back and enjoy life. The cherry salsa and tortilla chips went down WAY too fast. My friends absolutely loved the cider flights, with their favorites being Watermelon-Apple and Pineapple-Apple. I sipped on my favorite, the Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. The bright green apple flavors and medium dry finish are right up my alley.

 

After BHV we ventured on to Brys Estates Vineyard & Winery for their famous "Frosé" (think rosé slushy) and their gorgeous patio setting. It’s the perfect place for a photo op. The Frosé is deliciously sweet and such a refreshing change of pace for the wineries out here. I could literally drink one every single day. Brys’ deck has to be one of the most peaceful places ever. Next time I visit, I’m going to take a ride on the Wine Wagon down to the Secret Garden.

 

Next, we headed to Mission Table for a plethora of delectable small plates. OMG the food they have you guys - it’s incredible. The flavors are interesting, fresh, local…you get the idea. Since there were six of us left at this point, and we all wanted to try everything, we just ordered a bunch of stuff and shared it all. Are you ready for the list (don’t judge us)? We had the flash-fried cauliflower, goat cheese/lamb ragout ravioli, wild mushroom risotto, short-rib tacos, beet salad, lamb rack AND the loma grain bowl. Jealous? Kidding aside, it was the best meal I’ve had in Traverse City in at least a year. Every single thing was perfection with the loma grain bowl and the lamb rack being my personal favorites. I’ll be back soon, like tomorrow.

And to end the night, we had a nightcap at The Boathouse. We ordered everything from the perfect Manhattan, full-bodied Cabernet, Tito’s/soda and a gin martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. Cocktail Heaven. As we sat and watched the sunset drop down behind the boats, I couldn’t help but feel, well, so dang lucky.

Whether you’re planning a trip north soon, or you live here and need a little stay-cation day, I highly suggest following my "Day in the Life" – Old Mission Peninsula style.

Stay tuned for my next adventure and if you do come visit, please let me know how you enjoyed it!

Time Posted: Jul 31, 2018 at 9:57 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
May 29, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

Taste Wine, Eat Food, Taste Wine

The BHV team had an amazing experience recently! We were treated to a food and wine pairing event at Trattoria Stella’s, given by the general manager and sommelier, Alfiero Silveri! It was a private experience, a 5-course meal, where we learned about which foods paired best with Bowers Harbor Vineyards wines, and why. At this point, we all have gone to a lot of these types of events, had tons of training on flavor profiles, learned all about our wines, etc. and there is still SOOOO much to learn! It’s fascinating! Pairing wine with food has to be one of the greatest joys in life. I love wine, and I love food, and I double love them together.

Another thing I love, is to learn from passionate people. I’ll never forget the first time I learned how important it was to do work that you loved. I was in my senior year of college and I had a recreation management class where we toured different facilities and learned about what it takes to manage them, from the manager of the facility. The one that I will never forget about was the ice hockey rink where we learned about ice management from the Zamboni driver. He made ice management sound like the most interesting and technical process and his passion for it was literally radiating off of him. It sounds crazy, but I truly remember thinking, “Wow, I hope I love my job someday as much as he does!” And to this day, I firmly believe that people should ONLY do what they are passionate about. Life is simply too short not to. And the wine industry is no exception. It not only requires hard work and dedication, it requires PASSION.

It was such a treat learning about the food and wine pairings from Alfiero because of his…can you guess it? Yes, his passion! As Alfiero says, “Wine is one of the most prized commodities in the world and we get to work with it every day!"

So now that I’ve already written a novel, it’s time to get to the moral of the story…the WHY behind the pairings!

Taste wine, eat food and then taste wine again to get the full food/wine pairing effect.

Pairing Guidelines: Cheat Sheet
  • Acid + Acid
  • Sweet + Salty
  • Bitter + Fat
  • Acid + Fat
  • Alcohol + Fat
  • Alcohol + Spicy = NO
  • Bitter + Bitter = NO

And now for the menu:

White asparagus, toasted almonds, lemon butter & thyme

2017 Unwooded Chardonnay

Little gem lettuce, house pepperoncini, gorgonzola, herb vinaigrette

2017 Medium Sweet Riesling

Beets, duck leg confit, goat cheese, strawberry-honey vinaigrette

2016 Pinot Noir, Nicholas

Lamb spiedino, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, brodo

2013 2896, Langley 

Candied almond meringue, strawberry & pear compote, pickled black mission figs, orange zest, honey

2016 Riesling, Langley Late Harvest

You drooling yet? By looking at the cheat sheet, can you see why the chef paired these foods and wines together?

Wine enhances food and vice versa. To enjoy both to their fullest capacity we must explore and understand their relationship! Whether you’re new to wine, a sommelier, or somewhere in between, wine and food pairings should be fun and accessible. Great pairings truly take the dining experience to the next level. Tasting and smelling the different notes and nuances helps to train your palette, and you begin to notice small details. Once you get the experience of how wines work with different foods, you’ll take your dinner parties or Taco Tuesday nights to the next level!

It feels like wine and food pairing is a never-ending topic, which I know can seem overwhelming. Hopefully the pairing guidelines cheat sheet will help with future meal planning. I’m always here if you’d like any suggestions! Feel free to email me anytime at Alaina@bowersharbor.com.

I wrote another food pairing (wine and cheese) blog last Fall which also may help you for future cocktail parties, check it out here

Time Posted: May 29, 2018 at 12:13 PM
Alaina Dodds
 
December 27, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Set Up the Ultimate Champagne Bar for Your New Year's Eve Celebration

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:

Stock up on Bowers Harbor Vineyards Sparkling Wine

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:

 

2012 2896 Brut Rosé

  • 100% Pinot Noir and estate-grown
  • Strawberry fruit flavors with hints of white pepper
  • Great with smoked salmon, brie cheese and prosciutto, chocolate and raspberries

Blanc de Blanc

  • Explodes with bubbles
  • Always a crowd favorite
  • Bright green apple flavors
  • Delicious with stuffed mushrooms, buttered popcorn, shortbread cookies

2015 Pinot Secco

  • 100% Pinot Gris
  • Refreshing citrus flavors
  • Great with oysters, bacon-wrapped asparagus, almonds & antipasto
 
Stock Up on Booze

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:

  • Cognac
  • Gin
  • St-Germain
  • Bourbon
  • Crème de Cassis
 
Gather the Mixers

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:

  • Simple syrup
  • Sugar cubes
  • Bitters
  • Peach juice
  • Orange juice
  • Stout beer
  • Lemon juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grapefruit juice
 
Garnish Your Bubbly Bar

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.

 
Pop Those Bottles!

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.

  • Champagne + orange juice = Mimosa
  • Champagne + crème de cassis = Kir Royale
  • Champagne + bitters + sugar cube + lemon twist = Champagne Cocktail
  • Champagne + peach juice = Bellini
  • Champagne + stout beer = Black Velvet
  • Champagne + gin + lemon juice + simple syrup = French 75 (my absolute FAVE!)

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!

 

Time Posted: Dec 27, 2017 at 8:11 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
November 15, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Let’s Talk Deer, Hunting Apps and Recipes

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 Kosch, 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.

Thundering Aspens Sportsman Club

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.

HuntWise App

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.

Venison Biscuits and Gravy Recipe

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

Ingredients:

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

Steps:

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

Sausage Gravy

Ingredients: 

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

Steps:

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

Assembly: 

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
5. Serve

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! 

Time Posted: Nov 15, 2017 at 9:14 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
September 19, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Wine and Cheese? Yes, Please!

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!

chalkboard cheese tray

 
Wine and Cheese Pairings

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.

Bowers Harbor Vineyards wine and cheese pairings

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! 

Time Posted: Sep 19, 2017 at 10:01 AM
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