TRAVERSE CITY — Verterra Winery won two double gold medals at the Michigan-only wine competition “Judgement of Michigan,” held Aug. 3 in Benton Harbor. Its Pinot Blanc earned the top spot as a 100% Pinot Blanc varietal. Its Late Harvest Riesling captured top honors as a 100% Riesling varietal.

Forty Five North Vineyard and Winery’s Afterglow earned a double gold as a 50% Riesling 50% Vignoles varietal. Black Star Farms took home a double gold for its 100% Riesling Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling.

The event was hosted by the Michigan Wine Collaborative and Lake Michigan College.

“It’s a wine evaluation, but we wanted to really take advantage of having all these amazing people in one place at one time for the first time since the pandemic,” said Michigan Wine Collaborative Executive Director Emily Dockery, who is based in Kalamazoo. “We’re kind of hoping this will sort of amplify the importance of Michigan wine more than just an evaluation.”

Dockery said the Judgement of Michigan aims to be a gateway into the state’s wine industry, not just an evaluation of entries behind closed doors.

The choice of the 21 judges from across the state and country were an extension of that mission. The panel included a mix of people from restaurants (38.5%), media (30.8%), retail (19.2%) and wholesale (11.5%). They evaluated 250 Michigan wines.

“MWC focused on selecting wine professionals which represented our vision of what the wine industry looks like on the ground — diverse career paths, lifestyles, backgrounds, and impact in the wine industry,” according to the collaborative’s press kit.

Judges awarded eight Double Gold medals, 33 Gold, 58 Silver and 76 Bronze.

Gold medals awarded to Grand Traverse region wineries include (winery, wine, varietal):

  • Bel Lago, Cherry, 65% Balaton 35% Montmorency.
  • Bel Lago, Semi Dry Riesling, 96% Riesling, 4% Chardonnay (Sweet Reserve).
  • Black Star Farms, Arcturos Semi-Dry Riesling, 100% Riesling.
  • Black Star Farms, Isadore’s Choice Terrace Red, 34% Teroldego 26% Cabernet Franc 22% Lagrein 18% Merlot.
  • Brys Estate, Brys Estate Cabernet Franc, 100% Cabernet Franc.
  • Blustone Vineyards, Gewurtzraminer, 100% Gewurtzraminer.
  • Chateau Chantal, Cerise Noir, 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Montmorency Cherry.
  • Left Foot Charley, Rose, 100% Blaufrankisch.
  • Mawby, Grace, 79% Pinot Noir, 19% Chardonnay, 2% Regent.
  • Shady Lane, Pinot Gris, 100% Pinot Gris.
  • Shady Lane, Merlot, 100% Merlot.
  • Tabone Vineyards, Estate Reserve Red Wine, 40% Baco Noir, 40% Marechal Foch, 10% Leon Millot, 10% Chancellor.
  • Verterra, Vignoles, 100% Vignoles.

Several local wineries also took home silver medals: Black Star Farms earned six, Blustone three, Brys Estate three, Ciccone one, Chateau Chantal two, Laurentide one, Left Foot Charley one, Rove Estate one, Shady Lane two, Tabone Vineyards one, Verterra four.

Local wineries that won bronze medals include: Amoritis Vineyards with two, Bel Lago three, Black Star Farms three, Blustone Vineyards two, Brys Estate three, Chateau Chantal four, Ciccone one, Forty Five North three, French Valley three, Laurentide one, Left Foot Charley two, Rove Estate two, Shady Lane one, Tabone Vineyards one, Verterra one.

During the event, Michigan wine was constantly shared on social media by the judges, who have a combined reach of more than 486,000 followers, according a release.

The location of the inaugural event was chosen with purpose. Lake Michigan College is home to the Midwest’s first commercial teaching winery. Dockery said the college’s Welch Center for Wine & Viticulture will provide a glimpse into “the future of Michigan wine.”

“We think that will become a real good partnership,” she said of the Michigan Wine Collaborative and Lake Michigan College.

More information about the organization is available at michiganwinecollaborative.com.

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