Lake Huron and Michigan’s sunrise coast feature a smattering of wine tasting rooms from the Thumb region to the Mackinac Bridge. Blue Water Winery and Vineyards in Carsonville and Old Town Hall Winery in Lexington are an easy day trip within 100 miles of downtown Detroit. Both wineries are owned and operated by Connie Currie and Steve Velloff, transplanted Chicagoans who have embraced the region and are committed to crafting European-style wines, wine blends, and fruit wines.
In Lexington, Currie and Velloff revived the historic town hall into a spacious venue for wine tastings and special events. The impressive three-story brick Italianate hall was built in 1876 and was first used to house the town’s fire department and opera house.
You can sip wines and enjoy the atmosphere, along with light food like toasted brie and tomato on bread. On Oct. 13, experience the feel of grapes underfoot and partake in the fun grape stomp competition during Lexington Harvest Days. By as soon as next spring, the building will also house Lexington Brewery Co., the entrepreneurs’ newest venture.
Roughly 20 miles north of Lexington, 12,000 grapevines flourish thanks to an ideal microclimate for grape growing. You’ll find most of these vines at Blue Water Winery farm, home to a handful of chickens, alpacas, and two friendly canine greeters, Bernie and Goldie. A red Volkswagen bug is stationed at the forefront of the charming 1850s farm, which features a gleaming white barn that was built around 1887. An outdoor tasting pavilion is adjacent to the winery.
Wine offerings vary at the two distinct destinations and include 2010 Pinot Noir, 2010 Pinot Noir-Rosé, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc blend, 2009 Semi-Dry Riesling, Sunrise Coast white table wine (Pinot Gris and Vidal blend), and Fire Hall Red table wine (Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton blend). The winery’s new Blonde Bombshell label features the owners’ good friend, Bev Johnston, on the saxophone. Currie describes the Grüner Veltliner/Riesling/Seyval blend as “fun and flavorful.”
“Blue Water Winery is about the traditional connection between our vineyards, winemakers, and wine. It is a very personal, agrarian connection,” says Currie. “Old Town Hall celebrates a historic place and resort town. The (wine) names are playful and are created from grapes and fruit from multiple vineyards and orchards. It’s as much about the wine as it is about the fun of wine and the experience.”
Currie is excited about Grüner Veltliner, a wine with “green apple characteristics” produced with the Austrian grape namesake. She is even more excited about the 2010 Cabernet Franc release this month – seven years in the making. The grapes were among her first plantings in 2005, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
After wine tasting at Blue Water Winery, drive five minutes to Uri’s Waterfront Dining at Port Sanilac Marina. I recommend the fresh and tasty, lightly battered lake perch. Steps to the second floor restaurant can be found on the east side of the marina facility. Relax over a delicious meal and glass of Blue Water Winery wine on the outdoor deck and unwind by the boat docks and cerulean scenery. Hotel accommodations are available in Port Sanilac and Lexington.
Additional wineries in proximity to Lake Huron include Dizzy Daisy Winery and Vineyard in Bad Axe, Modern Craft Winery in Au Gres, Stoney Acres Winery in Alpena, and Nicholas’s Black River Vineyard and Winery in Cheboygan.