The second day of our Michigan trip, Jon and I did something unexpected. Slept in. Til a few minutes after 9! I almost never can sleep in that late, but the sleep deprivation from the red-eye flight the day before did me in! Mind you, it wasn’t the first time we woke up. Some jerk left the hotel alarm clock set for 5:40 am. Jon woke up, asked me what time it was, and when I told him 5:40, he bolted out of bed and said “I have to go to work!”
Normally he works at 3 am, so if he was supposed to be at work, he would have been VERY late. I had already turned on the lamp so I could figure out how to turn off the alarm, so he could see we were in a hotel room, but somehow it didn’t register. He looked really confused until I said, “Jon, we are on vacation!” After that, he promptly crawled back in bed and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. It gave me quite the chuckle!
So, after our nice sleep we got moving. We had a few things on our agenda for the day. First, Jackson, Michigan has an antique mall that I had seen online, and I wanted to do a little antiquing! After we got ready and got our stuff all packed up, we headed to downtown Jackson. The antique mall was good sized, three stories, and had several pretty cool items and a lot of things that were reasonably priced. Jon fell in love with a 1960s sideboard that was being sold as a set with a dining table and 4 chairs. All were in good condition and a nice maple finish. And $149! Too bad we couldn’t lug a dining room set on the plane!
After the antique mall, we moved on to our original purpose for being in Jackson. Sandhill Crane Vineyards. Back in April, I entered a contest on the Michigan By The Bottle blog, and won a $40 gift certificate to Sandhill Crane Vineyards (thanks MBTB!). Of course, at that point, we didn’t have a trip to Michigan planned, so we didn’t get to use it until now. Sandhill Crane is located in the country outside of Jackson, and has a mountain cabin getaway style tasting room and cafe. The tasting room is surrounded by vineyards, which produce about 10% of the winery’s grapes.
We arrived in time for a late lunch in their cafe, which uses lots of locally sourced ingredients. Jon and I tried the Michigan salad, with walnuts, dried cherries and feta cheese, the Sausage and Kale soup, and The Mozz, a panini with mozzarella cheese, pesto and tomato. All of our food was fantastic, and we enjoyed sitting outside on the covered deck with the view of the vineyards. It was quite peaceful. After lunch, we headed back inside to do our tasting.
The tasting is complimentary at Sandhill Crane, and you can try as many wines as you like. There is only one exception, a Port style wine that you can sample for $5. The list of wine is… EXTENSIVE. There are 34 wines on their tasting menu! There are whites, reds, sweet and dry wine, Port style, fruit wines and even mead! That made me a little nervous, because many wineries that try to be in the market with such a broad scope don’t truly master any of them. So, here are my impressions. I’m going to go list style, to try to keep it readable.
Chanson – This wine is made from the Chardonel grape, which we don’t see at home. It was a mixture of crispness and buttery, like a balanced Chardonnay. Jon really liked this one and I did too.
2011 Vintner’s Select Riesling – This was a light clean wine, with a lot of apricot on the nose. A great light summery wine.
Sassy Rosé – This is a very light acidic Rosé, made from the Cabernet Franc grape. It has a light flavor of strawberry.
2008 Cabernet Franc – For a Cabernet Franc, this wine had a very light mouth feel. I felt like it had a bitterness on the back of the throat that wasn’t appealing.
2008 Merlot – This lightly oaked Merlot had a nice balance of acidity with a some strong black pepper flavors. A decent wine.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – This Cab was very heavy on the nose, but was a nice balanced Cab without the heavy oak that many Cabs have. I liked it, but Jon thought it was too light.
2010 Noiret – This is a grape I had not heard of. It is a dry, Italian-style wine, with raspberry flavors and light tannins. Drink now.
2009 Proprietor’s Reserve Chancellor – This one was nice – with light tannin and raspberry flavors.
2011 Vidal Blanc – Another varietal that we don’t see at home. Flavors of peach, apricot, and pear with a slight sweetness. My mom would like it, which means it is a sweeter wine.
Serenade – This wine has a strong citrus nose, and has a thick, syrupy mouthfeel. It taste of peach and citrus fruit and is very sweet.
Heirloom Apple – This is an apple wine, and I thought it was so-so. It was my first every apple wine, so maybe that is how they are supposed to taste, but it just wasn’t my thing.
2006 Port in a Storm – This Port Style wine is made from Frontenac and Chambourcin grapes (two more varietals we don’t see in Washington). It has flavors of plum and chocolate and high alcohol content.
Sweet Ellie – Sweet Ellie is named for the vineyard dog and is primarily Traminette with Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, and Chardonel. It is sweet, but not overly so, with a caramel flavor mixed in with the fruit.
Mood Indigo – This wine is a Port-style wine made from blueberries. Very good, with a balanced sweetness to counter the high-alcohol content. It would be excellent drizzled over cheesecake or caramel ice cream.
I learned a few things that day. First, the Michigan palate tends toward a sweeter wine than us Pacific Northwesterners. I have gotten so used to tasting and drinking wines from Washington, California and Oregon which tend to make big bold tannic reds and more dry, crisp whites. Michigan wines are much sweeter – certainly not a bad thing, but something you have to get used to if your experience has been with drier wines. Second, there are a heckuva lot of varietals out there! At Sandhill Crane alone, I tasted several that I had never heard of before!
So, if you are ever in the Jackson area, stop by and give Sandhill Crane a try. I’m glad we did.