A weekend of events celebrating local brews, wineries & food
By Rick Coates
The success of two new festivals (Microbrew & Music Festival and the Wine & Art Festival) this past summer in Traverse City has led organizers of those events to offer winter versions. Toss in the popular North Peak patio party and a wine weekend on the Old Mission Peninsula and there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Valentines and Presidents Day Weekend.
Numerous events are encompassed in the Cherry Capital Winter WonderFest, scheduled for February 12-14 at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, downtown Traverse City, and Mt. Holiday Ski & Recreation Area. See www.winterwonderfest.org for more details.
Considering that some schools are having a mid-winter break, coupled with state and federal employees having a three day weekend for Presidents day on Monday (February 15), the tourism industry in Northern Michigan is keeping its fingers crossed that the many events will attract visitors to the region.
Here is a snapshot of four thirst-quenching events.
TC Winter Microbrew & Music Festival
Friday, Feb. 12 5-10 p.m.
Sam Porter operated one of the more successful beer festivals out West. The Traverse City native decided to return to his hometown a few years ago and bring his expertise of festival and concert management to the region. His Porterhouse Productions quickly created a popular concert series and last summer he launched the TC Microbrew & Music Festival.
The Microbrew Festival, despite inclement weather, exceeded everyones expectations with some breweries selling out of all of their beer before the evening ended. A bigger and better festival is scheduled to take place next summer. But Porter said to himself: Why wait until summer?
After the success of the first-ever TC Microbrew & Music Festival, we realized there was a great opportunity to bring the event back in the winter, said Porter. The Cherry Capital Winter WonderFest and Grand Traverse Resort are the perfect community partners for us to team up with to kick off Friday and support a weekend that draws thousands of visitors to our region.
Porter created a successful collaborative model in Montana where community groups partnered together, versus competing with each other. I am a believer that if you work together for the betterment of the community then everyone wins including the community, he said.
Porter is also contributing to the new festival model that is emerging in the region. The success of the Traverse City Film Festival and last years Microbrew Fest along with Wine & Art Festival seem to be paving the way for a new type of festival that residents and visitors to the region are longing for, with less cotton candy and carnival rides and more cultural and cocktail party type events.
The TC Winter Microbrew & Music Festival will take place February 12 under a heated tent at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa from 5 to 10 p.m. with an afterglow party at the top of the Resort at the Aerie restaurant.
A $25 ticket to the festival includes live performances from national and local artists, craft beer education, five 7 oz. pours, free shuttle service from North Peak Brewery to the Resort and back throughout the night, and more.
Live music will include Euforquestra, an eight piece Afro-Caribbean Barnyard-Funk dance band from Fort Collins, CO; the rockabilly honky- tonk of Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys; local favorites Levi Britton and Rachael & Josh Davis with members of Steppin In It; May Erlewine & Seth Bernard; DJ Dominate; West African drumming ensemble Tree Of Life; Poi Fire Twirlers; and the bagpipes and drum ensemble of Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums.
The evening will also feature bonfires and free sleigh rides which will encircle a frozen pond surrounded by a 150-foot lighthouse snow fortress and two tents showcasing over 40 craft beers, mead and hard cider breweries from the Midwest and beyond.
An after-party hosted by Porterhouse Productions, Shorts Brewery and the Michigan Brewers Guild will take place at Aerie Restaurant & Lounge, located on the 16th floor of the Resorts Tower, from 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. with live music and dancing. Local food, merchandise and beer gear will be showcased at the event.
Proceeds from the festival will support Little Artshram and the educational programming of the Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival, scheduled for August 27-28, 2010.
Attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets to the festival in advance entrance is an additional $5 at the door. Ticket buyers must be over 21. To purchase advanced tickets check out www.tcbeerfest.com.
Polar Beer Classic
Saturday, Feb. 13 noon - 4 p.m.
This Saturday marks the 4th Annual North Peak Brewing Companys Polar Beer Classic. It starts at noon and takes place on the deck at North Peak until 4 p.m. The afternoon features hot dogs and burgers for $1 and 50-cent drafts (this promotion is only for those outside on the deck). In addition, participants may sign up for the Mug Club at half off the regular membership price.
Brewmaster Kim Schneider has done an excellent job in the brew house since arriving to Traverse City a few years back. North Peak remains one of the hot spots for after- work gathering and dining out with family or friends.
Throw into the mix the personalities from WKLT (97.5 or 98.9) and the afternoon is guaranteed to be wild and crazy. Morning show hosts Omelette & Finster are also planning some snowball games. Bring coat, hat, gloves and an empty stomach to enjoy the burgers and hot dogs and a couple of really cold beers. For additional details check out www.northpeak.net or call 231-941-7325.
Romancing The Riesling
Friday-Sunday, Feb. 12-14
Sean OKeefe and his family (Chateau Grand Traverse) have long touted the virtues of Riesling grown here in Northern Michigan. This weekend the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula are hosting Romancing the Riesling.
The seven participating wineries will showcase a Riesling perfectly paired with a food offering and souvenir wine glass. Some Peninsula area restaurants are offering special promotions when you present your glass. Make it a truly romantic weekend and stay at one of the Peninsulas Bed & Breakfasts. For information on the B&Bs check out www.oldmission.com.
Tickets are $15 and available at all of the seven participating wineries on the day of the event or by purchasing online at www.wineriesofoldmission.com.
OKeefe is kicking it up a notch this year conducting a Riesling seminar from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 13 at Chateau Grand Traverse. The seminar will feature dry/off-dry Rieslings from each of the Old Mission wineries paired with counterparts from other North American Riesling regions. The theme is A Sense of Place, with participants seeking to identify the qualities of Riesling grown on the Old Mission Peninsula by comparing and contrasting our wines with the top Riesling producers of North America. The outstate wineries are all International Riesling Foundation members, and have exchanged wines with OKeefe for the event. Seminar tickets are $25. Purchase a combo seminar-Romancing the Riesling ticket for $35. Contact 231.223.7355 for reservations.
Winter Wine Wonderland
Sunday Feb. 14
On Valentines Day the Winter Wine Wonderland will take place in conjunction with the Winter WonderFest at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. This event is the winter version of last summers Traverse City Wine & Art Festival and will offer wine, gourmet desserts, and art from the regional artists.
The Winter Wine Wonderland will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. in a large heated tent located next to the Resorts Clubhouse. Approximately 20 wineries from Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas, and Traverse City will offer tastings of a variety of white, red, and sparkling wines, plus ice wine and mulled wine.
Ticket prices for the Winter Wine Wonderland are: Couples Ticket $35; Single Ticket $20. Tickets include souvenir wine glass, five (5) wine tasting tickets, and five (5) dessert tasting tickets per person. You must be 21 to purchase tickets. Several local artists will display their works and a large dessert table will include treats from Grocers Daughter Chocolates and the Resorts Pastry Chef Carolyn Riley. The New Third Coast will perform love songs. For additional details check out www.winterwonderfest.org