I have to admit something. Wine scares me. Between the convoluted French and German names and the many different levels of dryness or fruitiness, it’s difficult to remember which ones were pleasing and which ones made my lips pucker and eyes water. I do remember that Cabernet Sauvignon feels like a big chunk of driftwood in my mouth unless I am eating red meat. When I try to learn all the names, I feel a bit like Joey in Friends as Phoebe was teaching him to speak French: “Oh, mon dieu!.”
Instead of the usual post where the writer attempts to teach you about wine, I am going to direct you to Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. The winery is in no way intimidating and the wines they produce are of quality and desirable.
The 45 North tasting room looks like what you’d expect in a Northern Michigan winery: rustic, inviting, and surrounded by vineyards. It’s a charming barn feel with a bit of class in its weathered-wood siding and red metal roof; the same aesthetic is carried inside the tasting room where there are counter stools made of saddles, hearty wooden beams, and well-appointed shelf after shelf of wine. The bottles are intricately embossed, white or black and silver labels. They are refined, but make you feel giddy to touch them. But the look of 45 North is not the best part.
The winery’s greatest offering is in its assistant tasting room manager, Channing Sutton. Her personality takes you aback as she begins talking about wine with cheer and accommodation. You can tell how much fun she has working there and I don’t blame her – 45 North’s wine is very tasty.
My favorites were the 2013 Pinot Gris and the 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling. Both of these wines are good for a beginner. First, sniff the opening of the glass and see which fruits you can pick out. Try out words like “tropical”, “clean”, and “crisp.” How do you like the sweetness? The dryness? You might like to try the Pinot Noir if you think the aforementioned whites are too sweet. One sip and you’ll likely think of the words “cherry” and “tart.” You’re on track!
A few glasses in at 45 North, and you’re already a wine connoisseur. Okay, perhaps not that, but even better, you’re a part of the Leelanau Peninsula wine family. It’s hard to leave the tasting room without hugging everyone for such a great experience. From here, you’re set to take on any winery in Northern Michigan.
What are your favorite wineries on Leelanau Peninsula? Are you ready to take on wine drinking?