By Amanda Renkiewicz/ Photos by the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail
“The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.” Captain Bart Mancuso, The Hunt for Red October
“The hard part about October on Leelanau Peninsula is faking enough sick days to go wine tasting.” Amanda Renkiewicz, The Hunt for the Reds of October
Weekdays during October turned golden with the Hunt for the Reds of October annual wine event. This cleverly named experience is a take on a 1990’s film about one of the USSR’s most senior submarine captains in their newest submarine, who violates orders and heads for the United States. The film is an adaptation of Tom Clancy’s 1984 bestselling novel, and the first installment of the Jack Ryan film series. The Leelanau Peninsula version is a less stressful, but no less entertaining, hunt for outstanding red wines in the region. For a mere $20 a person, participants can enjoy a premium red wine pour at more than twenty wineries. Included in the ticket price is a signature wine glass and a $5 donation to the American Red Cross. While widely known, the Red Cross is always in need of support through donations, time, and giving blood. As a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education, the Red Cross responds to an emergency every eight minutes. To support their continuous efforts, every week, from Monday through Friday, the Leelanau wineries prepared to pour their specially selected red wine, ready to turn the heads of California and old-world red winedrinkers in their favor.
The Michigan terroir is known for its ability to produce exceptional dry white wine. Cherry wines are prevalent but still individually precious, since we natives adore our local farms and their products. Leelanau Peninsula has also become well-known for its Riesling and other cool-climate white varietals and blends. What is often overlooked, however, are the high-quality red wines being grown in the region. To help get beneath the surface, the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail hosts the October event to explore and discover great red wines. The wineries offer diverse red wines: big and bold Cabernet Francs and Merlots, aromatic and spicy Pinot Noirs, and many more.
The hunting gets even more intense through a partnership with the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, 101.9 WLDR, and The American Red Cross. They encourage submarine seekers, I mean, wine seekers, to find the secret winery from 4-6pm on every Thursday. Hints are given starting at 8:15am on the radio, offering an opportunity to hunt down prizes.
Standouts for the October event included Baia Estate’s Lambo, in Northport. The sparkling red is an homage to Lambrusco from northern Italy. It has an opaque ruby color with vibrant pink edges, and is a versatile wine with bold notes of ripeberries, rose petal, and sweet spices. Black Star Farms, experts at red wine, offered their 2016 Arcturos Merlot. It was deceptively dry, with blackberry and plum flavors complemented by well-integrated oak and dark cocoa. The velvety texture and mild tannins left a soft finish and spoke to its pairing potential with lamb or pork loin.
The Hunt for the Reds of October provided an opportunity to try new wineries at one’s leisure, with no rush and few crowds. The quality and depth of Michigan red wines are surprising and rejuvenating the industry, and paving the way for competition against the most well-regarded red wine regions. It showcased great wine for a great cause. It doesn’t get better than that!
– The 2019 Wine List –
Amoritas Vineyards, Lake Leelanau: 2017 Beak & Talon Red Blend
Aurora Cellars, Lake Leelanau: Radiance, Pinot Noir, or Rosso
Baia Estate Northport Leelanau County, Northport: Lambo Sparkling Red
Bel Lago Winery, Cedar: Solia
Big Little Wines, Suttons Bay: Underdog Gamay
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay: 2016 Arcturos Merlot
Blustone Vineyards, Lake Leelanau: 2018 Ad Lib
Boathouse Vineyards, Lake Leelanau: 2016 Cabernet Franc
Chateau Fontaine Vineyard and Winery, Lake Leelanau: Best of Class Big Paw Red
Ciccone Vineyard & Winery, Suttons Bay: Cabernet Franc
45 North Vineyard & Winery, Lake Leelanau: 45 Red
French Valley Vineyard, Suttons Bay: Pinot Noir
Glen Arbor Wines, Glen Arbor: Crystal River Red
Good Harbor Vineyards, Lake Leelanau: 2016 Marquette or 2014 Pinot Noir
Laurentide Winery, Lake Leelanau: 2017 Red Meritage
Leelanau Cellars, Omena: 2016 Merlot
M22 Winery in Glen Arbor: M22 Red
MAWBY, Suttons Bay : Redd
Nathaniel Rose Wines, Suttons Bay: 2015 Chambourcin, 2015 Vintage Ruby Port, 2013 Right Bank Cabernet Franc / Merlot, or 2013 Pinot Noir
Rove Estate Vineyard & Winery, Traverse City: 2016 Cabernet Franc
Shady Lane Cellars, Suttons Bay: 2017 Franc ‘n’ Franc
Silver Leaf Vineyard and Winery, Suttons Bay: Pinot Noir
Soul Squeeze Cellars, Lake Leelanau: 2015 Petite Sirah
Verterra Winery, Leland: Chaos Red
Willow Vineyard, Suttons Bay: Pinot Noir