Inger and Jeff Latreille
It's the People You Meet
~Saturday, July 3, 2021~
Today was one of those days where what made it great, was not so much by the things we did, as it was with the people we met. This RV experience has definitely lent itself to that and given us amazing opportunities to meet others and share. It really is a great deal centered around the connections you make with others.
Little did we know that this region of Michigan is an up and coming wine region with its loamy, sandy soil and cooler temperatures likening itself to the wine region of Chablis, France. With vines becoming more established and mature over the past 2 decades, the whites have really come into their own in this region, and now the Lake Leelanau region is dabbling in reds. As all grape growing regions took years to establish themselves, Michigan deserves a shot at success; to test the waters instead of excepting the notion it’s impossible. The Leelanau wine region is divided into 4 winery loops. 1. Sleeping Bear Loop, 2. Northern Peninsula Loop, 3. Grand Traverse Bay Loop and 4. Satellite Tasting Rooms. There are 30 wineries in all with the two we visited today, being in Sleeping Bear Loop.
Our first tasting stop was Amoritas Vineyards where all of their wines are made from 100% estate grown grapes. Tastings can be done inside or outside on their lovely covered front porch setting. We decided on outside. Today was our lucky day as the owner, Michael Goodell was behind the tasting bar. Jeff and I shared a flight of 4 white wine selections
in which all were delicious! We really enjoyed chatting with the owner, hearing all about his time in California, then making the move to Michigan, planting a new vineyard and boasting about his children’s involvement in the business. His daughter received her enology degree from U.C. Davis! We also found out that Michael doesn’t just dabble in wine. He has written 3 novels with a 4th (a mystery), on the way. We will certainly be checking them out. But what struck us the most was his layed back style and candor about judging wines. “Don’t just judge a wine by being good or bad for that region, but judge the wine by being good or bad period.” The funny thing was as we were tasting his wines, I was already judging the wine, without thinking about where it came from. I suppose we were on the right track. After Jeff and I decided on which wine we wanted to purchase, we asked the owner, which one was his favorite. “Fascinator”-a dry Muscat. I guess great minds think alike. And of course meeting Michael made the visit that much more special.
Next wine tasting stop, suggested by Michael, was Chateau Fontaine. The winery was originally a French-homestead potato farm until vineyards were planted in the 1990’s. We were immediately greeted by Matt, a sales rep for the winery, full of wine knowledge and spunk.
Again, we lucked out having someone help us that was very passionate about the business. Fontaine prides itself on making very fruit forward wines. While we enjoyed the late afternoon weather, trying a selection of white wines on the outdoor patio, we enjoyed the detail that Matt gave on their terroir and winemaking process. Before moving onto reds, Matt brought out an herb cheese/cracker platter to “cleanse the palate”, which was a mere sales tactic, not a way to level out the tastebuds. But it worked, as we ended up buying some of the cheese spread. It was delicious! When we sampled the reds, we weren’t big fans of the Pinot, but their Reserve Cab was excellent. They had a lovely Dry Rose as well, but in the end, our favorite sample was the Pinot Blanc, so another white wine it is to add to our modest trailer collection.
When we arrived back to our campsite, our neighbors, Mike and Chris were outside visiting with their good friends. We stopped to say “hi” and don’t think we made it into our trailer for at least another hour. I know…..a shock! They live in Michigan and own a hunting/fishing lodge in Ontario, Canada, but due to the borders being closed because of COVID, their business has been on hold for quite some time. So, they’re at Wild Cherry for the Summer season, patiently waiting for things to return to normal. Let’s hope they can get back to operating at least some of the summer of 2021. They’re making the best of things where Chris works a few days a week in Leland while Mike tends to his fishing boat. In fact, they had done some fishing today and even offered us a sample of their catch of the day. We also enjoyed some time talking with our other neighbors Jill and Jim from Ann Arbor, MI. Aside from Jeff and I, everyone else appears to be locals.
With the evenings so beautiful and bugless, we find ourselves just wanting to make the most of the daylight hours. With darkness not creeping in until 10:00 p.m. because we’re so far north, it’s definitely made our schedule kind of nutty 🤪.