Our friends, Bob and Cathy, invited us to join them and their family at WOMP in Northern Michigan on Saturday, November 25th. WOMP in an acronym for Wines of Old Mission Peninsula. Each year 9 of the wineries located in this beautiful area pair with 9 area restaurants to provide a fun filled day of pairing wines with the ultimate comfort food, Mac and Cheese.
Our first stop was at 2 Lads Winery. We entered through the warehouse where we were given our WOMP schedule, map and a pour of Pinot Grigio. 2 Lads had partnered with Mt. Holiday Restaurant who provided a Stilton Mac & Cheese with Smoked Pork, Wild Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions. This was my personal favorite of the day. 2 Lads paired this dish with their 2016 Cab Franc.
I am not normally impressed with Michigan Reds and this Cab Franc, by itself, was nothing to write home about. However, paired with the Mac & Cheese, it took on a whole new note and was my personal favorite pairing as well. We then went into the tasting room where we were met by this gorgeous view and 3 more tastings of our choice.
Our next stop was Chateau Chantal. Chateau Chantal was established in the early 90's and Frank and I often stayed at their B&B that consisted of three guest rooms, the tasting room overlooking remarkably beautiful vineyards and the bay, with the owner's living quarters above. Frank and I would occasionally manage the B&B for the owners when they would want a weekend off to spend with their daughter who was attending University in Chicago. The winery is now huge, portions of the land were sold off and houses built, the original owners, Bob and Nadine, have retired and Chantal now runs the winery. The winemaker, Mark, who we worked with has since passed away but his legacy lives on.
The food was provided by Blue Tractor and was a hit with all but not the favorite of any in our group of 10. The first pour was a Semi-Dry Riesling. You then had a choice of a Brut Sparkling wine or the Trio, a dry red blend. I chose the dry red blend. The pairing was just okay, in my opinion. Three additional tastings were included with 6 more available for a small fee and included a souvenir wine glass.
The Mac&Cheese from Aerie served at Bowers Harbor Vineyard got mixed reviews from our group. This Mexican style dish was Frank's favorite of the day. It was paired with the Proprietor's Reserve and the pairing was okay. I will be re-creating this dish for Frank in the near future.
This wonderful dish, somehow, did not get photographed. I think all the tastings were starting to go to my head at this point.
There are 1400 tickets sold to this event and while we all started at different wineries, I think at this point we were all starting to converge. From this point on the lines were getting longer, the elbow room was getting smaller and the weather was getting blustier. We were very happy we had rented a bus and driver for this event.
The food provided by Jolly Pumpkin at Chateau Grand Traverse was my biggest disappointment. I was very excited about a Curried Lamb Mac&Cheese and I am familiar with the winery and have been happy with purchases made. It started off well, as we were given a fun photo op upon arrival. I thought the dish was spicy yet bland, if that makes sense. All I tasted was spice instead of the spice complementing the flavors it drowned the flavors out. Only one member of our group cared for this dish and happily consumed what we didn't. The pairing with the Etcetera White was just okay. I actually thought the extra pour of Etcetera Rose would have been a better pairing.
The tasting room of Peninsula Cellars is in a one room schoolhouse. The schoolhouse theme was carried on inside as we were offered a pour of Semi-Dry Riesling paired with a Smoked Cajun Mac&Cheese from Smoke and Porter restaurant. This was the creamiest of the Mac&Cheese offerings earning it a favorite spot with one member of our group. The pairing was very nice and we all enjoyed the taste of Mulled Apple Wine for dessert.
This is the only winery where I made a wine purchase after tasting their Chardonnay and enjoying it enough to want to have another taste when I could enjoy by itself with a nice dinner.
The seventh stop on our tour was Hawthorne vineyards, a relatively new operation. This was my first visit to this beautiful winery. The Smoked Chicken Mac&Cheese by Reflect Bistro was served up in a Blue Corn Waffle Cup trimmed with Chocolate. It was a fun and tasty presentation.
The wine pairing was a 2016 Barrel Reserve Auxerrois that unfortunately did not make much of an impression on me. We were also provided a taste of their Tres Belle Chardonnay that was typical for Michigan.
Mari is another newer winery in the Old Mission Peninsula. As you can see the building is spectacular and the setting and view are amazing. The food portion was provided by S2S: Sugar to Salt, who served up a BLT Mac and Cheese. Mari paired this with a Cab Franc.
I loved the green sauce on this dish but was put off by the too generous sprinkling of bread crumbs. The pairing was fine but nothing to make you stand up and say "wow".
Last, but not least, on our tour was one of our favorite Michigan Wineries, Black Star Farms. We have never been to this site of theirs on Old Mission Peninsula but often visit their site in Leelanau where they have a wonderful inn where we love to stay.
Black Star Farms in Leelanau has a cafe on site that produces much of it's own food. They partner with Leelanau Cheese Company who shares their space and makes amazing French style cheeses. They started us off with a Bubbly Nouveau and then paired their housemade Truffle Raclette Mac&Cheese with an Arcturos Grunner Veltlinner.
I must confess that at this point I was pretty much done with Mac&Cheese and Wine pairings. We were ready to go back to the hotel and switch to cocktails and conversation.
We finished up the evening going back onto Old Mission Peninsula to one of my all time favorite restaurants, The Boathouse. I passed on all the carbs but we did order up a bottle of Mount Veeder Cabernet to enjoy with our protein. Lamb Chops for me and Filet Mignon for Frank.