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A MICHIGAN STATE MAN
AUXERROIS IS POUR MOI
INSIDE VILLA MARI
WINES STYLES TREND
ELLEN ON WINE
MICHIGAN STATE MAN
BY JIM RINK
D r. G. Stanley Howell, Jr. was born in Bubba Gump Shrimp territory in
Semmes (pronounced sims), Alabama, and his voice asserts its Southern
roots with a soft-spoken, reassuring twang.
A 33-year veteran of the Michigan wine scene (let’s be honest, he helped
create the Michigan wine scene), Howell now travels the globe as an expert in
Amazing how times can change.
When Howell was hired by Michigan State University on June 15, 1969, the
university had no enology program and the closest it had to a viticultural program
was the “small fruits” section at the Department of Horticulture where Howell
worked as a research scientist and extension specialist.
The dominant wine grapes in Michigan at the time were Concord, Niagara
and Delaware. When Howell suggested that Michigan “could do better,” he was met
with, shall we say, robust skepticism. Undaunted, over a period of many years, Stan Howell
Howell and his graduate students took their research on the road in an attempt to
convince winemakers and growers that there were viable alternatives.
Three decades later, Howell is enjoying the fruits of his labor. Michigan winegrowers now cultivate a wide array of world-class
wines, made from French hybrid varietals such as Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, Foch, Seyval Blanc, and deChaunac. It also grows
European vinifera: Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to name a few.
From a mere handful of wine grapes in 1969, Michigan has expanded to 13,500 acres, making it the fourth-
largest grape-growing state in the nation. There are currently 32 wineries and four federally approved
viticultural areas. A recent study by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council estimates the total
economic impact of wineries in the state at $75.4 million, with the industry attracting more than 600,000
visitors each year.
Even more impressive: In 2001, with help from the Institute of Agricultural Technology at MSU, Howell
launched a two-year viticulture and enology certiﬁcate program — the ﬁrst program of its kind east of
California — designed to train future winemakers and grape growers in the specialized art of cool-climate
grape and wine production.
This correspondent caught up with Howell at the MSU Horticulture Teaching and Research Center (HTRC)
in Holt, Mich., which serves as the site of Spartan Cellars, the university’s experimental winery. Following are
some of Howell’s thoughts on research, viticulture and the
ever-changing landscape of the Michigan wine scene:
AWS: What was it like growing up in Mississippi in the mid-40s and early 50s? Continued on next page
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day. What’s next for Michigan? What strategic developments do
you foresee for growers and winemakers?
GHS: The vision I had 20 years ago of vineyards stretching from
the Indiana state line to Northport will become a reality. There
are new wineries and new vineyards planned in Oceana County
and Mason County. Other fruit crops are experiencing
economic diﬃculty and growers are looking at alternative
crops. But for this to occur, we’re going to need much more
critically educated and trained viticulturists and enologists to
take advantage of the opportunities that will present
themselves over the next 20 years (hence the creation of the IAT
Viticulture and Enology Program).
AWS: What role does research play in the wine revolution?
GSW: What I do, what all scientists do, is extraordinarily
negative. We may come to a wonderful new kernel of
knowledge and then design an experiment to prove it wrong.
It’s very reductionist. We don’t go out into the vineyard and
devise and experiment that puts every variable into play. Such
an experiment would be too large to gain any insight.
Alternatively, we select experiments based on priority —
training systems that improve sunlight the fruiting zone, etc. We
ask the simplest questions because you have to sit up before you can crawl and crawl before you can walk. You can’t go right to the
goal, it’s a series of small steps and you need a lot of groundwork.
By being able to intellectually interact with potential growers we’ve been able to give them the tools to achieve maximum
opportunity for success. I don’t recommend varieties. I ask growers, “How are you going to market the fruit?” “What kind of wine do
you want to make?” I ﬁnd out what they want and then help them determine if it’s economically feasible. Maybe the answer lies in a
new variety or maybe the answer lies in growing an old variety in a new way.
For many years, I’ve been fascinated by the work of Jacob Bronowkski, author of The Ascent of Man. Bronowski said that
science is not a body of knowledge; it’s not an occupation; it’s a manner of thinking. Bronowski also introduced the knowledge
paradox: “The closer you look at things the less you’re able to see.”
Essentially, as a scientist, every time you open a door you see a hallway full of doors.
I’m on my third set of doorways.
REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF THE AMERICAN WINE SOCIETY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Rink is the Editor-in-Chief of michiganUncorked. He is also editor of the American Wine Society
Journal. His family owned and operated Boskydel Vineyard in Lake Leelanau for 42 years and worked
closely with Stan Howell and his students for many years.
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AuxerrpoiosurismoiBY MICHAEL SCHAFER, CSW
AN OLD WORLD GRAPE
HAS A NEW FOLLOWING
H ave you ever enjoyed an Auxerrois? Odds are unless you’re NEW WORLD
unless you're from Oregon or Michigan, you probably South Africa and British Columbia in Canada produce very
aren't familiar with this exquisite wine. Let's get the
pronunciation out of the way: Auxerrois is pronounced "ux sair small amounts of wine from the Auxerrois grape. Pelee Island,
WAH" and or “oh-zher-WAH." Either way is perfectly acceptable. the southernmost and warmest appellation in Canada blends
Think of the word ﬂutist: the two ways to pronounce the word Auxerrois with Chardonnay to create a refreshing white wine.
describing a ﬂute player are ﬂautist or ﬂutist. Both are correct!
In 1974, Oregon wine pioneer David Adelsheim arranged
Now that you know how to pronounce Auxerrois, let's for a variety of Alsatian clones to be shipped to Oregon State
explore a bit of its history, where it's crafted, what it's like and University for evaluation. Included in the cuttings of Pinot Blanc
what foods taste best with it. and Pinot Gris was a surprise, Auxerrois. He planted his ﬁrst
vines in the Eola-Amity Hills and then later at Adelsheim.
Currently Oregon oﬀers the largest, albeit small, number of
Auxerrois probably originated near the town of Auxerre in
Chablis, in the northern Burgundy region of France. It's parents In Michigan, not one but three wineries produce wines of
are the Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc grapes. It has lots of siblings, 100% Auxerrois! Charlie Edson, proprietor and winemaker at Bel
including Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Muscadet and Aligote. Lago Vineyards on the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan
As you see, it's in excellent company. While most
frequently used as a blending varietal, Auxerrois is also Charlie Edson of Bel Lago
made into single varietal wine.
Continued on next page
This grape is often called Pinot d’Auxerrois in Alsace,
France where it's widely grown. It's also known as Auxerrois
Blanc in Europe. Germany produces a few hundred acres of
Auxerrois. Switzerland, The Loire Valley in France and tiny
Luxembourg have small areas planted with this mostly
Alsace produces Auxerrois in a variety of ways, most
frequently in the sparkling wines of Cremant d’Alsace. The
grapes used for this refreshing bubbly are Auxerrois,
Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Pinot Blanc
and Auxerrois are frequent companions in blended
Alsatian wines. Auxerrois is fuller bodied and less acidic
than Pinot Blanc, and the two varieties complement each
other’s weaknesses. The traditional of style of this classic
blend are Edelzwicker wines, produced for early enjoyment
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CClimate change is generally not viewed as a good thing in Lagina’s plastic shelters, stretched on aluminum frames in
long rows over the grape trellis, capture additional heat from
most parts of the world, but one Michigan entrepreneur is
busy creating his own “greenhouse eﬀect” to try and duplicate the sun, adding the equivalent of six weeks to his growing
growing conditions found on the 45th parallel across the sea season, creating, in eﬀect, his own personal Gulf Stream.
in Italy. Usually associated with vegetable farms or nurseries, “I like red wines,” he explained. “But I was not happy with
the ubiquitous greenhouse, aka hoop
house, high-tunnel or “nellaserra,” has been
re-purposed by renewable energy czar
and reality TV star Marty Lagina to shelter
Lagina is the aﬀable owner of
PAVES WAY FOR WORLD-CLASS REDS IN MICHIGAN
Heritage Sustainable Energy. On a good
day, his 29 wine turbines in McBain can power a city the size the red wines I tasted locally. I started wondering ‘how it be
of Traverse City, which serves as his corporate headquarters. improved?’ We had lived in England for a while and I saw the
But he has recently turned his attention to another renewable shelters (greenhouses). They used them for vegetables and
resource—the sun—to make world-class red wine on nearby small fruit trees. I then realized you could extend the growing
Old Mission Peninsula.
Lagina has actually been growing grapes for 14 years and ALL IN THE FAMILY
selling them to local vintners, but in spring 2015 will open his Lagina and his son Alex recently made their way to Italy
own tasting room and wine cave as a showcase for his to get design ideas for their own winery — Villa Mari
“tunnel” vision. His varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, (pronounced Mah-ree). Plans call for a 6,000-square-foot
Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Syrah. winery/tasting room above ground and a 15,000-square-foot
“The theory is that the best grapes are grown around the cave below ground. It will be buried deep (as deep as 35 feet)
45th parallel,” he said. “So our vineyard receives the same to achieve a constant 55-degree temperature year round.
amount of light as those in premier wine growing regions, but Heavy block, cavity wall construction will maximize the
not the same amount of heat—there’s no Gulf Stream.” energy savings, and, yes, wind-generated power will energize
BY JIM RINK Continued on next page
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A DIFFERENT WAY TO PRESENT WINE:
WINE STYLEs,THE NEW TREND
W By Madeleine Vedel
Walking into the newly renovated Blue Goat of Traverse City, an iconic wine and gourmet foods shop open since 1974 in this small
city of Northern Michigan, I am struck by its bright and airy interior (a major change from its former dark and densely packed
shelves), its neatly laid out racks of wine, and - in particular - the series of signs sketched in color-coordinated chalk above each wine
section, giving me clues to the wines' styles, but not to their grape varietal, nor to the region from which they come.
This is diﬀerent.
Wine is something my family has been drinking throughout my life. My parents were self-deﬁned francophiles, and enjoyed
wine with dinner nearly every night. When I was in college, my mother advised me on purchasing wine: "Look for the words Margaux
or Cru, and Mise en Bouteille au Château or Domaine."
She may have said a bit more, but keeping it simple,
ﬂedgling that I was, these were my keys for navigating a
wine shop thirty years ago.
Much has changed over the years, and yet not so much in
how wines are presented to the customer. The vast
majority of wine shops still organize their shelves by
region, and possibly by varietal, requiring the wine
purchasing public to either have this knowledge, or to ask
for help. But, after an informal survey of my wine-loving
friends, it seems that there is a new trend to render wine
purchasing more friendly, creative, and open to food-
pairing. In New York, it seems to be apparent in the
newest shops, run by younger, hip, and often food-
Here in Traverse City, The Blue Goat is introducing
this trend under the new ownership of Amanda
Danielson, co-owner of the Traverse City restaurants
Trattoria Stella and The Franklin, Linda Price, executive
director of The Cordia at the Commons, and Sebastian
Garbsch, founder and head ﬁtness trainer at Formative Fitness Training Studio, and co-founder of Formative Developments.
"I've always envisioned everything I've created as being curated," conﬁdes Amanda while we chat over a glass of wine at Stella's
discussing her vision and choices for the wine shop. "If you're looking at the entire world of wine, I've found that consumers tend to
ask for what they know, and that tends to be limited to the following six grape varieties: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and
Chardonnay for the whites, and Pinot Noir, Malbec and Cabernet (rarely specifying Franc or Sauvignon)." There is no judgment here
from this wine and hospitality expert, simply an acknowledgement of what she's come across working with her restaurant
customers. As a passionate sommelier, Amanda is thrilled that all these people are drinking wine.
EXPANDING THE PALATE
Continued on next page
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ELLEN ON WINE
By Ellen Landis, CS, CSW
JJudging the 2018 Michigan Wine Competition this year gave me more reasons to be impressed with wines being produced across
the state. The quality continues to reach higher levels, many of which deserve to be recognized on a global level. White wines,
including Auxerrois, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Vignoles, and Chardonnay have long
been appreciated here. There are red varieties, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,
Sangiovese, Blaufränkisch, Marquette, Refosco, Teroldego, Lagrein, Chancellor, Chambourcin and Noiret (crafted as a stand-alone
variety or part of a blend), that are equally compelling, and deserve accolades as well. Shining stars tasted during this year’s
Michigan Wine Competition included:
Mari Vineyards 2016 Bel Tramonto; Old Mission Peninsula: This beautifully composed blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc
and Refosco is complex and well deﬁned. Alluring aromatics pave the way to a richly textured wine boasting mouth-coating ﬂavors
of blueberry, red cherry, graphite, wild blackberries, almond paste, savory herbs, and a thread of minerality. Delicious now, while
balancing acidity and ﬁrm tannins (joining the bountiful fruit) also suggest age-worthiness. SRP: $45 (Double Gold/Best of Class.)
The Mari Vineyards team also took home Double Gold honors for their 2017 Malvasia Bianca, and a Gold medal for their 2016
Troglodyte Bianco (a blend of 50% Pinot Blanc, 40% Grüner Veltliner and 10% Sauv Blanc). www.marivineyards.com
Verterra Winery 2017 Dry Riesling; Leelanau Peninsula: This beautifully expressive dry Riesling is captivating. Opening with a
charismatic stone fruit and river rock aroma, it broadens delectably on the palate with layers of green apples, minerality, white
peaches, chopped herbs, a pinch of sea salt, and citrus accents. Zesty through the persistent ﬁnish. SRP: $18 (Double Gold/Best of
Class.) Verterra’s team also achieved Double Gold for their 2017 Pinot Blanc, and Gold for their 2017 Rosé of Cab
Left Foot Charley 2017 Blaufränkisch Rosé; Michigan: This full-ﬂavored dry Rosé is brimming with red and black fruits and spice,
from ﬁrst whiﬀ through the spirited palate, to the long-lasting ﬁnish. Juicy red cherries, tart cranberries, black raspberries, white
pepper, boysenberries, and subtle earthiness join savory herbs and a twist of orange peel. Bright and energizing with bracing acidity
that keeps it ever so vivacious. SRP: $18 (Double Gold/Best of Class.) www.leftfootcharley.com
Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery 2017 Sparkling Auxerrois; Leelanau Peninsula: This shimmering sparkler, composed of 90%
Auxerrois, 5% Pinot Noir and 5% Chardonnay, opens with pizzazz! Fragrant aromas of citrus blossom and a lively bead of tiny
bubbles captivate the senses. It bursts forth with ﬂavors of fresh pineapple, blanched almonds, crisp pear, and lemon lime on the
palate. The balance is ﬁnely tuned, and the extended ﬁnish is refreshing. SRP: $22 (Gold.) Bel Lago Winery also secured three
additional Gold medals for their 2016 Chardonnay, 2017 Pinot Grigio, and NV Leelanau Primavera semi-dry white
Lawton Ridge Winery 2017 AZO Red; Lake Michigan Shore: If you are one who seeks out red wine with a touch of sweetness, reach
for this semi-dry gem, a blend of Chancellor, Chambourcin and Noiret. Round and tasty on the palate, unveiling juicy ﬂavors of wild
raspberries, vanilla bean, boysenberry jam, cherry candy, and savory black pepper spice. Fresh and nicely balanced. SRP: $14.95
(Gold/Best of Class.) Two additional Double Gold medals were awarded to Lawton Ridge, one for their 2016 Harvest Select Sweet
Vignoles, and another for their Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier based 2017 Rosé. www.lawtonridgewinery.com
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