One of my favorite “touristy” activities is going wine tasting along the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas.
With 30 wineries to choose from, every foray into our slice of heaven's viniculture is delightful. I’ve certainly found my favorites over the years, which warrants the annual “top of the list” visits, but each year there seems to be one or two new additions that makes the list all but obsolete. Let’s face it: wines from our two peninsulas are fantastic.
They receive a plethora of awards and accolades from national and international wine competitions -- so much so that it makes Michael Phelps’ 22 Olympic metals pale in comparison. Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a bit, but let’s be honest. As exciting as it is to see Phelps win gold in the 200 butterfly, it’s much more enjoyable to sip a 2013 Pacific Rim Wine Competition's Gold Medal/Best in Class winning Brys Estate Merlot with a grilled butterflied leg of lamb.
How do I know Brys won Gold/Best in Class? Well I just happened to be at the winery picking up some wine and talking to Walter & Eileen Brys, sipping their other two Gold/Best of Class winners Pinot Blanc and Riesling, when they found out. Three Gold/Best of Class out of seven wines they entered. Not bad. Not bad at all.
“Can you believe it!" Eileen said. "A Michigan Merlot won in California!”
I think she was as shocked as the French were in 1976 when, at the “Judgment of Paris” blind tasting of Chardonnay and Bordeaux/Cabernet Sauvignon wines, two California vineyards, Chateau Montelena and Stags Leap, beat out some of France's best vineyards to win the competition.
In a competition featuring 270 wineries from around the world, six local vineyards competed and, in addition to Brys Estates, several of their brethren of the vines won medals as well.