Summer is here, and the next four months will bring a full slate of fun wine events around the state
On June 13, take an easy day trip to the Ella Sharp Wine and Art Festival in Jackson, featuring art, wine tasting, live music and wine seminars.
For those who prefer a weekend up north, sip wine on the shore of Lake Michigan at one of the granddaddies of them all, the Leland Wine and Food Festival, also on June 13. Virtually all the northwest Michigan wineries, and many of the area’s finest restaurants, are represented for tasting, food and always-fabulous music from noon to 6 p.m. This is an unparalleled opportunity to sample most of the new northern Michigan wine releases.
On June 19, wrap around the bay to Old Mission Peninsula for Divas Uncorked, an evening devoted to women, wine and food from 6 to 9 p.m.
Close to home, on June 26, Lansing’s Old Town will feature craft brews, local cuisine and bands at the Festival of the Moon, which segues into Festival of the Sun the next afternoon when local, national and international wines are added to mix.
For those with a hankering for a Lake Huron experience, head to Harrisville Harbor on July 18 for the annual Sunrise Side Wine and Food Festival, featuring an array of Michigan wines and cuisine from local chefs.
In the Jackson area, the Pioneer Wine Trail wineries will again host their Wine Days of Summer event Aug. 1 and 2. Tour the wineries with a souvenir wine glass and enjoy wine and food pairings at each stop. Reservations are required.
A new event on the northeast Michigan wine scene is Tawas Uncork'd and Untap'd, at East Tawas Harbor Park on Aug. 1. Michigan wines and ales will be served, along with local cuisine. And don’t miss the "grape stomp,” where teams climb barefoot into a half barrel filled with grapes and compete to produce the most juice.
One of Michigan's premier wine events, the Gold Medal Wine Reception, is held at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 6. Earlier in the week, judges will evaluate several hundred Michigan wines, and only the medal winners will be presented, accompanied by cuisine selected to pair with the “best of class” wines.
On Aug. 8, the annual Leelanau Peninsula Food and Wine Festival at Northport will again showcase northwest Michigan wines and local cuisine.
Head back down the coast to Traverse City for the first ever Traverse City Wine and Art Festival, at the Village in Grand Traverse Commons, on Aug. 22. Billed as a celebration of the wines, art, music and food of the Grand Traverse region, this sounds like a promising event.
Wrapping up August, St. Joseph will host the Epicurean Classic, featuring cooking demonstrations; wine, beer and cheese tastings; and chef-hosted dinners and receptions, from Aug. 28-30.
On Sept. 12, the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP) will host the annual WOMP in the Park at Bowers Harbor Park, where attendees will enjoy the wines of Old Mission Peninsula paired with cuisine provided by area restaurants.
For more information on any of these events, visit the Michigan Grape and Wine Council Web site at www.michiganwines. com and click on the "events" link. With so many wine festivals and celebrations throughout our summer season, there’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy everything our state has to offer — try a new wine, taste some great food and sing along to the music.
In vino veritas.
-Michael Brenton (Michael Brenton is president of the Greater Lansing Vintners Club. His column appears monthly.)