In the early hours of a crisp September Saturday, runners and walkers will line the hills of Ciccone Vineyards, from where they will race for 5 miles (about 8 kilometers) through the picturesque wineries of Leelanau County. From 11am that day, they will join the general public in a more leisurely pilgrimage from winery to winery as the Wine Tour part of the 11th Annual Harvest Stompede Vineyard Run & Walk and Wine Tour. This year’s event takes place over the weekend of September 8 and 9.
Registration for the Run & Walk race is closed with 900 people already signed up, but it is fun to watch, and there are still tickets left for the Wine Tour. “You start out at one winery, get your glass and can go to any winery you want and set your own pace over Saturday and Sunday” explains Andy McFarlane of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association.
For $40 dollars, participants can visit 20 different wineries across Leelanau County. As a participant you will get to taste different wines and every wine tasting is paired with local food samplers. Tickets, which are available online, are going fast, so don’t delay in booking yours. Also available online are lodging packages which include a night’s stay at a local inn, and wine tour tickets.
“The best part, apart from the awesome wine of course, is that we get to showcase local food. The local movement is really strong in Michigan”, says McFarlane.
Chris Lopez, President of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association, adds, “We get to make sure the wine and food is spectacular. It’s a great learning experience. If one were to go to other wine producing areas around the world you would see that they pair wine with food regularly, but that isn’t really a part of our American culture.”
An event like the Harvest Stompede Wine Tour is a celebration of the harvest of of Leelanau County’s delightful “cool climate” wines, and is a great way to learn about wine and food pairing. “Cool climate wines are crisp, bright, with a higher acidity that pairs really well with food”, explains Lopez.
The event underscores that the Leelanau County Wineries are a close knit community, working together through the Vintners Association to make sure they all produce the best wines possible.
The scenery is gorgeous, the food is delicious and the wine is spectacular. If you are a foodie, a wine aficionado, want to learn about wine, or just want to have a fun time, the 11th Annual Harvest Stompede Vineyard Run & Walk and Wine Tour is the event for you!
By Sarah Blodgett, feature writer.