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Tastemakers: Traverse City Wine & Art Festival

Rick Coates - August 16th, 2010
Traverse City Wine & Art Festival
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Paella in the Park in Traverse City and a friend of mine from out of state joined me. He laughed when I told him it was all local wine from the Old Mission Peninsula. But I countered, listing the major awards wineries in the region have won at international tasting competitions. He came back with a response I hear a lot: “Okay, so you make great white wines up here, but I am a red wine drinker and your reds...” Before he could finish I escorted him to the Peninsula Cellars table so he could taste their 2005 Cabernet Franc.
A surprised look came to his face as he nodded with approval: “This is not a California big Cab, but this is very nice and it is better than a lot of California reds I have tasted.” I responded, “Exactly.”
See, people who write off reds from Northern Michigan are doing so because they are comparing the wines to something winemakers are not trying to do. Wine regions are not about being clones of other regions. Winemakers here are not trying to make California or French wines, they are making Michigan wines.
Wines from the region are world class. But don’t take my word for; get out to the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival this Saturday as it will feature wines from 22 wineries from the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.
Now in its second year, the Festival sold out in 2009, but organizers have expanded the area at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons to accommodate additional participants. It takes place from 3 to 10 p.m. and advance tickets are suggested. In addition to the wine, blues greats Larry McCray and Greg Nagy will perform, along with local heroes Song of the Lakes Trio with Sue Wood, and May Erlewine & Seth Bernard all performing.
Wine and art has always made a great pairing and the region’s wine industry has been supportive of local artisans, from using local art on wine labels to supporting gallery openings. Art Center Traverse City, Crystal Lake Art Center and The Leelanau Community Cultural Center in Leland have joined forces with the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival to feature the work of over 60 regional artists for show and sale.
The evening will also include 10 area restaurants preparing wine-friendly foods. The wineries from the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas and Traverse City will be pouring red and white wines and hard cider. Participants may enjoy full glasses of wine or go the tasting route with smaller sample size pours.
Advance tickets are $20, with tickets at the gate at $25, which include entry to the festival, music, commemorative wine glass and four half-glass wine tickets. For details check out --Rick Coates

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