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Tastemakers: Good Harbor Vineyard‘s Fishtown White/ The dining room at Arcadia Bluff‘s Perch Plate

Rick Coates - June 7th, 2010
Good Harbor Vineyard’s Fishtown White
This year’s 25th Annual Leland Wine Festival will be one of celebration as the past 25 years will be remembered as well as some pondering of the future of the event (see related article) as a new chairperson takes over. Amidst it all will certainly be reflection on winemaker Bruce Simpson, who was one of the Festival co-founders. Simpson passed away a year ago this past March. While only Festival insiders were aware of Simpson’s role in the launch of the Festival (he also helped to organize it behind the scenes each year), he was known throughout the Michigan wine community for his Good Harbor Vineyards, located a few miles south of Leland on M-22.
Simpson was a pioneer of both the Leelanau and Michigan wine industries, and despite having an established vineyard, he spearheaded the effort to start the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association (LPVA) to help other wineries in the region. A testament to his character is exhibited in his children, daughter Taylor and son Sam, both of whom walked away from promising careers and big paychecks to come home and help their mother run the winery. They remain committed to carrying out their fathers passion.
I knew Simpson’s passion quite well, experiencing it personally during my tenure in a marketing position with the LPVA. He was proud to be a “farmer first and winemaker second.” In addition to his family, preserving the agricultural heritage of the Leelanau Peninsula, Simpson was all about his community of Leland (he even posed nude for a fundraising calendar) and in particular Fishtown, home to the Leland Wine Festival.
He paid homage to the popular fishing shanty community with his wine, Fishtown White, a blend of mostly Chardonnay with hints of Vignoles and Seyval Blanc. The label is from an original painting of the famous fishing tugs by Leland artist William Chatfield.
Fishtown White is a reasonably priced, everyday table wine and it pairs nicely with several foods. Be sure to try it at the Leland Wine Festival with the escargot in the bread bowl from The Cove or the blackened whitefish from The Bluebird. For details go to
--Rick Coates

The Dining Room at Arcadia Bluff’s Perch Plate
Food is often an afterthought at a golf course. For most, golf course cuisine is whatever is on the grill when making the turn, or the typical pub fare at the “19th hole” while adding up the scorecard and tossing back a few cold ones. But at some golf courses the dining experience rivals the golfing. One such place is The Dining Room at Arcadia Bluffs.
Now in its 11th season Arcadia Bluffs (10 miles south of Frankfort) is on everyone’s list of “top courses you can play,” and many golf purists consider it the best public golf course in Michigan. Last year, Golf Digest rated Arcadia Bluffs the 10th Best Public Golf Course in the country. The dining operation has a lot to do with that accolade under the leadership of Chef and Food & Beverage Director Scott Ver Strat.
A big plus is the impressive dining room that overlooks the course and Lake Michigan. The simple elegance, coupled with an impressive and recently added wine cellar with hundreds of bottles that will satisfy the most discriminating wine palate, sets the tone for the experience ahead. I recently enjoyed lunch where my guests and I were given “private club” type service.
Ver Strat changes the menu daily, “mostly to accommodate fresh produce and locally raised meats and fresh fish from nearby.” Key items remain on the menu throughout the season such as the Perch Small Plate that is available at both lunch and dinner. The perfectly prepared fish with a homemade encrustation was highlighted by the lemon aioli sauce. Ver Strat says the secret is preserving fresh lemons to make the sauce by waiting a couple of weeks until they are pickled to perfection.
Whether you are a golfer or not, the dining experience at Arcadia Bluffs is worth the trip, from the views and the service, to the quality and freshness of the items on the menu no mulligan is needed -- but I know I will be making a second trip. For details see or phone 800-494-8666. --Rick Coates

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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