Category: Food and Drink

Grand Hotel’s Wine Weekend Highlights ‘Star’ Northern Michigan Winery

When Elizabeth Schweitzer, the master sommelier and creator of the Fall Wine Appreciation Weekend at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, talks about the 2018 event featuring Shady Lane Cellars, the excitement in her voice is evident.

Schweitzer praises the Leelanau County winery, saying she has watched it since she arrived in Michigan in 2010 and touting its development under lead winemaker Kasey Wierzba. Schweitzer, this year, invited Wierzba and Shady Lane to be the showcase of her biennial weekend wine celebration

“She’s our highlight,” Schweitzer said of Wierzba. “Shady Lane and Kasey have really become a star among Michigan wineries and we’re so thrilled to have them as our host winery this year. People are really going to learn that they are making great wines and dispelling some myths about Rieslings.

“Kasey’s seminar will educate guests on reinventing Reislings and how they are not always sweet. We’ll pour her dry (styles) and provide a platform for people to know and love Shady Lane Cellars wines.”

The three-day affair offers guests:

  • A Friday welcome cocktail reception
  • Saturday wine seminars and tastings
  • Saturday evening Grand Cocktail reception
  • Saturday evening special dinner (adults only)
  • Saturday evening Cordial Reception

Shady Lanes wine will be exclusively featured at each of the receptions and dinners while Saturday’s tasting will be designed like a trade-show with all Michigan wines. Nearly 300 people are slated to attend the event, drawing mostly from the Midwest, but stretching to the Eastern seaboard in some cases, Schweitzer said.

“It’s always a big afternoon for Michigan wines to get some great exposure,” Schweitzer said.

Wierzba and Shady Lane are equally excited about the opportunity. Shady Lane Cellars’ Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc will be poured as featured wines during the special dinner Saturday evening.

“I’m over the moon to have the Grand Hotel’s dining room full of wine lovers drinking Shady Lane Cellars,” Wierzba said.

It’s not a one-way learning window, Wierzba said, as she intends to take advantage of working with Schweitzer, who is only one of eight female master sommeliers in the world.

“She works with an amazing cellar at the hotel and she really dedicates herself to experiencing world wine regions,” Wierzba said. “As a winemaker my focus is in my own cellar with grape varietals that are central to cool climate wine growing. It’s a drop in the bucket. There’s so much to experience and I always take advantage of learning from true Masters of world wines.”

Shady Lanes also intends to use the event as a lead on guests who may want to follow-up with a visit to the estate winery’s tasting room a short distance off Grand Traverse West Bay and M-22.

Schweitzer said the winery will leave a welcome letter and card offering a free wine and cheese tasting at the facility that features scenic vineyard views from a sweeping 32-foot covered furnished patio.

 

“That is so kind and so thoughtful, and no one has ever done that before,” she said.

Learn more about the story about Shady Lane Cellars, the people behind the wine and the land that makes it possible.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

How 1 Week in November Could Change What You Think About Beer Forever

So, you don’t like beer, huh? Then maybe you just haven’t tried the right one.

There are a lot of beers in the supermarket cooler and many of them do taste a lot alike. But there are dozens upon dozens of other kinds of beer you’ve probably never had. 

Like, for example, “Cakewalk,” a vanilla cream ale from Michigan’s Right Brain Brewery, or the “Harvest Moon Oatmeal Stout” from Mackinaw Brewing or the “Strong Brew Coffee Porter” from Rare Bird Brewpub.

There are more than 150 styles of beer recognized by the Brewers Association — from the American-style lagers at the grocery store to India Pale Ales (IPAs), porters, stouts and beers with notes of fruit, pumpkin, coffee or chocolate.

“Our goal is to find something for everyone,” said Joe Short, founder and CEO of Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, near Traverse City. “Our favorite customer who comes in is the person who doesn’t like beer. That’s where we get excited about the possibility of conversion.”

Short’s, Right Brain and other local Traverse City breweries are taking part in Traverse City Beer Week (TCBW), Nov. 9-16. TCBW features a variety of tastings and other events that make a great introduction to craft beer.

Even though the craft brewing industry is rapidly growing, it still makes up just a tiny fraction of the commercial beer market. That small scale is partly what defines craft beer — it’s the opposite of big industrial brewers.

But it’s also defined by the craft of brewing. While the predominant style of beer sold in the United States is a light lager that’s more or less the same all across the country, craft beer is as unique as the brewery that makes it. The Local’s Light classic American lager by Short’s is different from the Northern Light lager at North Peak Brewing, which is different from the Glen Light lager at Cherry Public House, and so on.

During Traverse City Beer Week you can also try hard ciders like “Cinnamon Girl” by Left Foot Charley, “Greenman” by Tandem Ciders and “Madagascar Vanilla Bean Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider” by Taproot.

That’s not even to mention the vast array of other beer styles that craft brewers create. They experiment with yeast, hops and malted barley ingredients to produce a variety of different colors and flavors of beer: the “Cherry Springer” cherry ale at Lake Ann Brewing, the “Pembroke Stout” at Earthen Ales, and the “Trail Ryeder” IPA at Hop Lot Brewing, for example.

“No one beer captures all consumers,” Short said.

But which kind of craft beer might capture you? Short offers three suggestions to help you discover craft beer that you’ll enjoy:

Start with a sample tray. Try a variety of styles so you can taste the difference between a sour beer and a hoppy beer, for example, or between a Belgian beer and an American ale.

Ask your server questions. When you taste one kind of beer, find out why it tastes the way it does. When you find a particular style of beer that you like, your server will be able to identify what you like in that beer, so you can try other kinds with similar characteristics.

Narrow down what you like best. If you discover that you like light lagers, then explore more lagers because you might also like an amber lager or a dark lager. Or, if you decide that you like the smell, flavor and bitterness of hops, then keep exploring IPAs and other beers within that window.

The key is to explore craft beer, because there’s so much more out there than the familiar beer that you might not even like. Traverse City Beer Week is a great time to do just that, with 19 breweries and tap rooms participating!

Events include the 5th annual TC Ale Trail IPA Challenge, a Flapjack and Flannel Festival, The Great Beerd Run and many activities hosted by individual breweries. For example, you can discover the creative magic behind Right Brain’s award-winning beer on a free brewery tour 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, and sample special mini-flights of craft beer starting at $6.

Check out the full schedule of TCBW events here.

If you spend a couple days enjoying the festivities, you can take advantage of Fab Fall packages being offered by many Traverse City-area hotels, resorts and B&Bs now through Dec. 14. The packages include lodging deals as well as discounts on dining, shopping, breweries, wineries, spas and more.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.