By Becky Sue Epstein

Northern Michigan is starting to look like any other orchard-turned-wine-country around the world, with Old World-style wineries as well as modern buildings dotting the landscape. Wineries here are crafting classic vitis vinifera wines from grapes grown right on their properties, wherever possible. The tasting room staff at one winery I visited, Mari Vineyards, told me they are committed to producing estate-grown wines, and they own 65 acres of vineyards surrounding the winery as well as at other nearby locations. The winery itself is built into a hill, constructed in a Mediterranean style.

Of course some years are more difficult than others, but nature has been kind to this region in the most recent seasons, specifically 2016 and 2017. Though Mari produces red, rosé and white wines, their 2016 Grüner Veltliner got my vote for top white when I visited this spring. Appropriately mild aromas and flavors enhanced a wine with good mouthfeel and reasonable balance. However, it’s important to note that, as with many of the Michigan wines, there’s a strain of sweet-tart throughout, and some sweetness on the end palate – possibly having to do with additives allowed in this region, or with lack of age on the finished wines. Still, tasting this Michigan-grown grüner was quite a positive experience – especially for someone as skeptical as me.

WHO: Mari Vineyards

WHAT: 100% grüner veltliner

WHERE: Old Mission Peninsula (Traverse City), Michigan

HOW MUCH: $28 (at tasting room; media sample)

About The Author

An experienced writer, editor, broadcaster, and consultant in the fields of wine, spirits, food, and travel, Becky Sue's work has appeared in many national and international publications including Intermezzo Magazine, Fine Wine & Liquor, Art & Antiques, Luxury Golf & Travel, Food + Wine, and Wine Spectator. She began her career as a restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times while working in film and television. Epstein is also the author of several books on wine, spirits, and food, including Champagne: A Global History; Brandy: A Global History, and Strong, Sweet and Dry: A Guide to Vermouth, Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Marsala.

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