TRAVERSE CITY — A progressive dinner with a twist returns to the area in June with a variation of its own.
Previously held locally in 2015 and 2017, the Fête d’Été is a tour of five restaurants in the Traverse City area. Participants travel by bicycle. At each of the stops, local chefs pair a wine from Oregon’s Anne Amie Vineyards, the family winery of tour founder Thomas Houseman.
The Fête d’Été (French for summer party) returns to Traverse City on June 6 and will again feature wines from Anne Amie Vineyards — with one exception. Organizers of the tour wanted to visit Old Mission Peninsula, but township regulations didn’t permit serving wines from out of state.
So Mari Vineyards Winemaker Sean O’Keefe will offer an approximation.
“We’re serving a Michigan take on some of the same wines that Tom is doing out in Willamette Valley,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe said Oregon and Michigan share some similar growing conditions, which makes it possible to approximate what his old friend is doing on the west coast.
“We’re cold and they’re cool,” he said.
Ampelography Wines owner Adam Mahler acts as sales and marketing consultant for several wineries. He helps organize the bicycle tour, and said the event is similar to a traditional winemakers dinner with Houseman’s signature spin and emphasis on the outdoors. The Fête d’Été also is modeled on the Tour de Moules in Portland, Oregon.
“It just all kind of came together that this is the scene (Houseman) wanted to be in,” Mahler said.
The bicycle tours began in 2012 in three Ohio locations — Toledo (the headquarters for Ampelography), Columbus and Cleveland. A stop in Cincinnati was added in 2016.
Michigan tours in Traverse City and Detroit began in 2015. Ann Arbor was added in 2017.
The Traverse City tour on June 6 will follow rides in Detroit (June 2) and Ann Arbor (June 4). The TC tour is scheduled for Raduno/Bon Vin, The Towne Plaza, Mari Vineyards (with food from the Boathouse Restaurant), Warehouse Kitchen & Cork at Hotel Indigo and The Franklin.
The bicycle tour emphasizes casual. The ride is limited to 12 miles round trip.
“It’s really chill,” said O’Keefe, who rode the tour in 2015 and will do so again this June with his wife, Stacey.
“We’ve done them all,” Mahler said. “It’s a blast. It’s my favorite week of the year usually.”
Mahler joked that the June trip in Traverse City may be a little bit different with Old Mission Peninsula, but not by much.
“It helps to have some gears going up on the peninsula,” he said. “It’s a little bit more of an incline than I thought. But it’ll be OK.”
Mahler said Fête d’Été has proven popular since its introduction.
“We pretty much sell out every ride now,” he said.
The tour costs $89 and includes a Fête d’Été tour T-shirt. Mahler said the cost includes tax and gratuity. Participants are expected to bring their own bicycle.
Fête d’Été is limited to 45 people and Mahler said that the organization has “already sold about 25 or so.”
Ticket and event information is available at http://anneamie.com/events/fete-dete/.
If you go
What: Fête d’Été progressive winemaker dinners on bicycle
When: June 6 in Traverse City
Where: The tour makes stops at Raduno/Bon Vin, The Towne Plaza, Mari Vineyards, Warehouse Kitchen & Cook at Hotel Indigo and The Franklin
Cost: $89, which includes a Fête d’Été tour T-shirt. Tickets are limited to 45 people.
Ticket/event information: http://anneamie.com/events/fete-dete/