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Thursday, September 6,2012

This cider house rules

Uncle John's hosting hard cider festival this weekend

by Michael Brenton
For generations, mid-Michigan residents — along with travelers throughout the Midwest — have enjoyed weekend jaunts up to Uncle John's Cider Mill, on US 27 in St. John's. Uncle John's is a frequent site for events such as car shows, ultralight aviation fly-ins, concerts and, of course, pick-your-own fruit and vegetable excursions. Now in its fifth generation of family ownership, what started as a simple fruit farm has become a full-fledged, family-friendly, agricultural tourist destination.
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Wednesday, August 1,2012

Cool wines for a sizzling summer

If you’re looking for refreshment, you should brush up on your German

by Michael Brenton
German wines do not seem to fly off the shelves in American wine stores, which is a shame because the wines tend to be high-quality, versatile, food-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Perhaps one reason they are ignored by some buyers is that German labels can be confusing.
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Thursday, July 5,2012

Good news from the north

If two recent events are any indication, expect wonderful wines from upstate

by Michael Brenton
The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula dinner at Traverse City's renowned Trattoria Stella on June 7, and the annual Leland Wine and Food Festival — held June 9 — provided perfect venues to sample the new releases from northern Michigan's expanding array of wineries. Summer wine country tourists surely won't be disappointed, nor will they be let down as the new releases begin popping up on store shelves.
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Wednesday, June 6,2012

The summer spirits

Grab a glass when Michigan's breweries, wineries, meaderies and cideries pour it on

by Michael Brenton
The summer festival season is shifting into overdrive. One of the early big events was the annual Michigan Beer and Brat Festival on Memorial Day weekend, held at the base of Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville.
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Wednesday, May 2,2012

The road less traveled

You won’t regret getting caught in the new Northern Leelanau County Wine Loop

by Michael Brenton
The familiar “M-22” diamond-shaped sign appearing in hundreds of car windows seems to be as ubiquitous as “My child is an honor student at … ” bumper stickers. Highway M-22 is a wonderfully scenic road that wraps around the perimeter of the Leelanau Peninsula, showcasing picturesque vistas of Grand Traverse Bay, neighboring Old Mission Peninsula, islands and verdant vineyards as it darts through historic villages, such as Suttons Bay and Leland.
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Wednesday, April 4,2012

Rhone retrospective

To truly enjoy Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, drink them before they become too old

by Michael Brenton
The Southern River Rhone Valley region in Southeast France is home to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, where some of the world’s great red wine is grown. Thanks to hot summers and strong winds, the rocky soils absorb heat by day and gradually release the heat to the grapes during the cool nights. Typically, the wines are bright, rich, and deep, made in a style that minimizes oak influence, if oak is used at all.
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Wednesday, March 7,2012

Getting to know Pinot

A ‘blind tasting’ of various Pinot Noirs revealed some surprising discoveries

by Michael Brenton
Pinot Noir is renowned as a grape variety that can be challenging to grow and even more challenging to turn into great wine. It is the signature grape of the Burgundy region of France and thrives in cooler grape growing regions where it achieves a wonderful balance of tannin, sugar and acid.
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Wednesday, January 4,2012

What’s in a (French) name?

To understand exactly what you're drinking, learn what's behind your wine's label

by Michael Brenton
France is the most prototypical example of strict growing and labeling regulations, which also simplifies ordering French wine once the rules are understood.
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Wednesday, December 7,2011

California dreamy

A Napa Valley trip leads to delectable discoveries at Burgess Cellars

by Michael Brenton
As we turned east off of Napa Valley s Silverado Trail and started the winding trek up Howell Mountain, a brisk brilliant blue-sky day welcomed us to Napa Valley s famed and historic Burgess Cellars. In an era in which so many Napa Valley wineries are small cogs in sprawling corporate wine conglomerate empires, the perpetuation of a multi-generation family owned winery is a refreshing change of pace.
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Wednesday, November 2,2011

A Trail worth following

There’s something tasty at every stop along Michigan’s Pioneer Wine Trail

by Michael Brenton
These wineries boast many medalwinning wines and are attracting loyal followers. Geographically, the northernmost winery on the trail is Burgdorf s Winery, east of Haslett, and the southernmost is J. Tree Vineyards, near Blissfield. In between, six other wineries span from Dexter on the east side to Albion on the west.
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