Black Star Farms isn’t just a winery. It’s an agricultural destination. That’s the slogan of this award-winning northern Michigan winery, and it couldn’t be more fitting. With two locations in the heart of some of the state’s the most beautiful viticultural countryside, Black Star Farms–from the rural ambiance of its tasting rooms to its breathtaking vineyards to its bold yet minimalist vintage wines–captures all the magic of northern Michigan’s wine culture.
I chatted with Coryn Briggs, Marketing Director for Black Star Farms, who told me about the history of one of the Traverse City area’s most popular places to experience locally produced wines. Black Star Farms was founded in 1998. Located on M22 near the charming town of Suttons Bay, the tasting room and inn are housed inside a stately red estate house on 120 acres of rolling pastures. Says Briggs, “We started as a small group of individuals looking to create something with a ‘wow’ factor–something that would be a unique agricultural destination. With this as our location—with its equestrian stables and hills that were perfect for vines—that became our motto.”
Black Star Farm’s Suttons Bay location offers not just the winery’s main tasting room (a post-and-beam building offering wines, ciders, brandies, and dessert wines in addition to many products and gifts for purchase) but also the Hearth & Vine Café and the Inn at Black Star Farms, complete with luxurious guest rooms and amenities. In addition, this location features frequent events, such as the popular Harvest Dinner Series that pairs wines with five course dinners prepared with locally grown food.
The winery’s second location, founded in 2007, offers a cozy, more intimate tasting experience. Nestled in Old Mission Peninsula’s rolling hills that overlook the turquoise waters of Grand Traverse Bay, this tasting room, located on M37, is just a short drive from downtown Traverse City and the many other Old Mission wineries. “Our two locations have very different personalities,” says Briggs. “It’s great to be able to offer patrons the experience of two different wine trails.”
But the winery’s picturesque locations are only a reflection of the high quality of the wines made and served at Black Star Farms. “A lot of what makes our wine so great has to do with our variety. We don’t just offer sweet or dry wines, but something that everyone can enjoy. We also pride ourselves in keeping our wines true to their varieties, so we’re very minimalist in that way. Our Chardonnay is going to taste exactly how a Chardonnay is supposed to taste,” says Briggs.
Among many other favorite vintages, Black Star Farms is especially known for its Rieslings and its Pinot Noir, both of which the winemaker, Lee Lutes, specializes in. Other popular wines include the Arcturos Pinot Gris, a perfect summer wine, and the Arcturos Cabernet Franc, a favorite of celebrity chef Mario Batalis, a summertime resident of northern Michigan.
Black Star Farms’s wide variety of wine is available on the menus of many local restaurants as well as on the shelves of many Michigan grocery retailers. But it seems that the best way to experience the unique character of this, one of Michigan’s favorite wineries, is to visit one (or both!) of the tasting rooms. Here, you’ll sip on fabulous wine amidst some of Michigan’s most dramatic agricultural landscapes. It’s the perfect pairing–one that you’re likely never to forget.