Monthly Archives: June 2015

Project 24: Forty-Five North

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We’ll circle back to Good Harbor in a bit, but first …

It was a warm, sunny day, perfect in every way: crisp, clear and inviting. Time spent on the Leelanau Peninsula can feel that way in any weather (though locals tell me winter can be brutal). When I visit, I just find it magical. Who knows — maybe it is! I’m sure there is more than one winemaker in the region that hopes I’m right about the magic; they may need just a little of that after two particularly hard winters in a row. Still, I think these guys can do it. Winemakers in Michigan have a true pioneering, get-things-done, we-can-do-it attitude. Certainly the winemakers from Forty-Five North and Ciccone Vineyards — the next two stops on my list — both do. I’ll start at Forty-Five North, where I got swallowed up for an entire afternoon.

Joyfully and blissfully, I lost hours in my painting and meeting the oh-so-lovely and crazy knowledgeable Channing Sutton. She’s passionate about this county, this land, the wine and people who make it and you the visitors, she passionate about you too. She’s passionate about Forty-Five North and couldn’t be happier that this is a Leelanau Conservancy property. More on that later, but for now, it is suffice to say that Channing knows a lot about a lot. I quit taking notes at some point and enjoyed absorbing what I could. If you come to Forty-Five North (and you should), ask for Channing, then listen. She will connect you to this land and vineyard, and isn’t that what wine is ultimately: a connection to the land?

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Channing Sutton

Forty-Five North is super excited about their winemaker, Jay Briggs, who — like Channing — loves his job and is deeply committed to this land and his craft: making stellar wines.

My encouragement is go see for yourself, experience the latitude!

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Next up: We’ll visit Ciccone! Stay tuned …

Project 24: Chateau de Leelanau

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Matt Gregory and me with the mural I painted on the south wall of Chateau de Leelanau

Starting the day at Chateau de Leelanau and ending it on the beautiful property of Good Harbor is not a bad day. It was such a good day, in fact, that I’ll be breaking it down into two parts to do it justice!

At the start of the day, I met with Matt Gregory, co-owner of Chateau de Leelanau. Matt was born and raised on a farm on this peninsula. This is a place where anyone can feel welcome. It’s a “down home” place, and they have made every effort to take any preconceived ideas of pretense out of the wine tasting experience.

No matter your taste in vino, you’ll find something delicious to please you here — even hard cider. After leaving the tasting room, fueled by Matt’s enthusiasm for taking the tasting room into the next phase, I headed off to the properties where these grapes are grown: Matt’s family’s farm.

To say this land is breathtaking is a understatement. Layers of rolling vines meet cherry and apple trees and East Grand Traverse Bay glistens in the background. Give me my brush, I’m ready!

One hour turned into the next as I turned and painted a few different views. But this is Project 24, right? This is why I came: this land. In the simplest of terms, Leelanau is special; phrased more elaborately, it’s ridiculously stunningly, fantastically gorgeous.

Stay tuned for more adventures from Project 24!