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August Hill Winery Vignoles

My Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to see me a bottle of wine for Christmas, from a state that I had not yet tried.  Illinois!  It is the Vignoles from August Hill Winery.

August Hill was founded in 2000 by two friends, although one friend has since stepped back from the winery’s operations.  Vignoles is a semi-dry, light-bodied grape – a French-American hybrid grape that is known for tasting similar to a Riesling.  This one has aromas of tropical fruit with a hint of caramel.  On the palate, it tastes of pineapple and sweet caramel.

August Hill Winery Vignoles

August Hill Winery Vignoles

Overall, it is a nice sweet wine, perfect for a relaxing evening after a weekend of yard work.  It even has an awesome label!  Cheers, and Happy Sunday!

 

Blue Mountain Cider Company: Winesap Cider

To my knowledge, the first time that I ever had Winesap apples was at Douglas Valley Winery in Manistee, Michigan in October, 2014.  They have orchards with several varieties of apples, and Winesaps are one of them.  They are delicious!

Fast forward to a trip that Jon and I took to Walla Walla in August 2015, to celebrate my birthday a little early and take advantage of Jon’s weekend off.  We visited The Blue Mountain Cider Company, and sampled several of their ciders.  This one, made from 100% Salmon Safe sustainable Oregon apples, was one of my favorites.  It is a dry style cider, with a refreshing crispness and a hint of tartness on the back of the palate.  It is very well done.

It was a perfect accompaniment to a lazy, exhausted Friday night after a long, short week!  It really hit the spot!

A line up of several Blue Mountain Ciders, courtesy of the Blue Mountain website.

A line up of several Blue Mountain Ciders, courtesy of the Blue Mountain website.

Have you ever had any of the Blue Mountain ciders?

Traverse Bay Winery Cherry Riesling

For the last couple of evenings, I have been enjoying a Michigan wine.  It is the Traverse Bay Winery’s Cherry Riesling wine, a blend of 25% Cherry wine and 75% Riesling. 

Their website describes it as a “unique and flavorful wine was made from our Semidry Riesling Wine and Northern Michigan Cherry Wine. Simply put, this enchanting semidry wine displays crisp, fruity style with a delicate hint of cherry. We recommend serving this versatile wine slightly chilled as an accompaniment to picnic or barbecued fare, as well as cheese and fruit. This is a sweeter-style blush wine with crisp Riesling flavors and just a hint of fresh cherry.”

Traverse-Bay-Cherry-Riesling(384x640)

At only $9, it is a great mid-week sipper, offering something different than a typical Riesling with its light cherry flavor.  While it is a bit late in the season for outdoor picnics, it is a nice, sweet wine that reminds me of summer.  If only the summer would return!   

Cheers to the impending return of the weekend!  One more day!

Chehalem 2013 Ridgecrest Grüner Veltliner

Ahhh…  the end of the work week, and I get my last summer schedule Friday off tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I’ll be spending this last Friday loading branches into a trailer to haul away.  The work will start early, and go until it is done!  The storm left a lot of busy work, but luckily Jon and I will have help from our Dads!

So tonight, I’m relaxing with a glass of Chehalem 2013 Ridgecrest Grüner Veltliner.  It is a nice summer white with balanced acidity, and flavors of lemongrass with a hint of light butter.  It finishes with more lemongrass and white pepper.  It is a very food friendly wine with medium body.  I enjoyed mine with a breakfast for dinner of eggs over easy and toast.  Which just goes to show that I’ll drink wine with anything!

Here’s to the long weekend!

The Wine that Time Forgot…

I found this bottle on the bottom shelf of the wine fridge yesterday.  I don’t remember ever having seen it before.  My mom recently brought me some Michigan wine, but this isn’t from Michigan, so I don’t think that’s it.  It is the D’Arenberg The Stump Jump White 2011, a South Australian wine.  It is a blend of Riesling, Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc and Rousanne.

D'Arenberg The Stump Jump White - Vintage 2011

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump White – Vintage 2011

It is only a 12 bottle wine fridge, and I rummage around in there quite often, taking bottles out to drink and putting new ones in.  It isn’t like a bottle is likely to get lost in there.  It is a 2011, so it’s likely I’ve had it for awhile…  Maybe Jon found this one on the rack in the pantry and put it in there, but it wasn’t dusty, and most of those bottles are dusty.  Jon isn’t likely to wipe or rinse a bottle…  So, I’m confused.  I suppose I might have picked it up at the grocery store on one of those nights we stopped by on the way home from doing wound care with my horse.  Those were long, tiring days…   But surely it is a better story that that!

I popped open this alien-delivered bottle to find a nose of lemongrass, and flavors of pineapple and lemongrass.  It has an initial taste of butter on the tongue, giving way to a mild acidity at the back of the palate.  A great summer sipper to pair with lazy summer weekends inside (because it is too smoky outside from the wildfires east of the mountains), folding laundry and watching reruns of M*A*S*H.

Hope you had a great weekend as well, and perhaps found a mystery bottle in your wine fridge!

 

Anne Amie: 2011 Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc

I love this wine. No, that doesn’t sound enthusiastic enough… I love THIS WINE! Jon and I tried it for the first time when we visited Anne Amie in 2009, and bought a bottle, even though it was a bit pricey for our budget at the time. Jon opened it one evening by mistake, when he thought he was opening one of their less expensive Pinot Blancs. Instant special occasion! It was fantastic, even if we weren’t planning to drink it that night.

Fast forward to February, when we were at Anne Amie for their Bubbles Fest, a small wine festival with just sparkling wines from eleven Willamette Valley producers. Now that was a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

When we were making our purchases from the festival, I asked the folks if they had any of the current release of Prismé, and they did! Untasted, I had them put one in the box. A few days ago Jon and I celebrated the 7th anniversary of the night we met, and to celebrate, I opened this bottle. Again, it knocked my socks off!

Anne Amie Prismé

Anne Amie Prismé

The Prismé is made with some of their best blocks of Pinot Noir, and the juice is pressed and aged without the skins in French Oak Barrels on the lees for 18 months. It has aromas and flavors of apples and vanilla, and a long creamy finish with a light, yeasty, oak flavor. They are certainly doing something right with this wine. Fabulous!

Have you had Anne Amie’s Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc? What did you think?

MI Road Trip: Douglas Valley Winery

Every vacation begins with a catalyst.  That “thing” that makes you decide that you are going to go there…  It could be a theme park, a museum, a fabulous hike, a concert, a beach – you get the idea.  Or a winery.  Let me explain…  Back in the spring, I won a prize – redeemable in Manistee, Michigan.  The value wasn’t much, but it got me thinking that maybe we could go visit the area.  We were heading out to visit family in Michigan anyway, so a little detour might be perfect!  A road trip was born…

In my last post, we checked out downtown Manistee – after our coffee we headed out to visit Douglas Valley Winery, just outside town. Douglas Valley’s tasting room is located in a historic building – an old bunk house along the railroad line at the turn of the century. The property is surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards.

A rusty farm wagon at Douglas Valley Winery

A rusty farm wagon at Douglas Valley Winery

UPDATE: My Dad, who grew up on a farm, let me know that the photo above is not a wagon.  Rather, it is a manure spreader…  So don’t go on a hayride in it, mmm-kay?

When we arrived, there was one couple wrapping up a tasting, and then we were all alone with our server. Tastings are normally $5 per person for 7 tastes (including a souvenir glass), but we had a certificate for a free tasting thanks to a prize from the Michigan by the Bottle blog. You can also opt for 2 complementary tastes, but $5 is very reasonable.

The Douglas Valley Winery Tasting Room – inside a historic bunk house

The Douglas Valley Winery Tasting Room – inside a historic bunk house

We picked out what we wanted. Here’s what I sampled (Jon and I tried to pick different wines and then shared, so there are more than 7):

  • Bunk House White – A semi-sweet blend of un-oaked Chardonnay, Vignole, Riesling and Pinot Gris, with flavors of apricot and peach.
  • 2013 Lakeview White – A semi sweet blend of Chardonnay and Riesling.
  • Bunk House Blue – A tart blueberry wine with spice on the back of the palate.  One of my favorites.
  • Bunk House Cherry – A sweet blend of tart and sweet cherries.  Also very good.
  • Northeastern Sweet Red – A light, semi-sweet red wine; a blend of Foch and Chambourcin grapes. It had some Pinot Noir characteristics.
  • Bunk House Red – A blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot with flavors of raspberry and blackberry.
  • Stone House Sparkling Cider – A low alcohol (7%) sparkling cider made with several apple varieties from the Douglas Valley orchards.  Excellent.
  • Stone House Semi Sweet Cider – A blend of Jonathan, Macintosh, and Northern Spy apples. Fruity with flavors of apple (duh…) and honey.
  • Caramel Apple Cider – One of two specialty ciders that they had on tap and available for sale in growlers, this had a nose of heavy caramel, but the caramel flavor was very light on the palate, with pleasant, light bubbles.

Our server was very friendly and offered information about the wine, and the history of the property.  Currently Douglas Valley grows the fruit and grapes, and the winemaker from another Michigan winery, Black Star Farms, makes the wine.  I think there is a plan to begin making their own wine at some point in the future, but this method seems to work well, as there were several good wines.

I purchased my favorites… The Northeastern Sweet Red, the Sparkling Apple Cider, the Bunk House Blueberry and the Bunk House Cherry. Thinking back, I should go find one of these bottles to open tonight…

Douglas Valley also had a large selection of local food products, and since it was close to lunchtime, we decided to get a picnic lunch to go. We picked out some Great Lakes tortilla chips, beef jerky, cajun beef jerky, Michigan made jalapeno pickled asparagus, asparagus salsa, and a big bag of fresh Winesap apples.

Apples at Douglas Valley – Waiting to be Picked

Apples at Douglas Valley – Waiting to be Picked

We said our goodbyes and headed out on our way to our next destination – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  En route, we found a roadside viewpoint with a picnic table and enjoyed our picnic lunch.  The weather was still cold, but had warmed up enough to allow us to sit outside for 20 minutes and enjoy our chips and salsa, beef jerky and asparagus.  What a great lunch!

A few of our Michigan Picnic Lunch items – YUM!

A few of our Michigan Picnic Lunch items – YUM!

But we couldn’t linger too long, because I couldn’t wait to see Sleeping Bear Dunes!