Saturday, February 10, 2018

Women Winemakers--Introducing Burgdorf Winery #WinePW

March is Women's History month.  In preparation for this our friend, Gwen of Wine Predator invited the members of our Wine Pairing Weekend group to showcase a wine from a woman winemaker or winery owner.  You can learn more at Gwendolyn's information post.

I decided that I wanted to showcase, not only a woman winemaker, but one who lives and works here in Michigan.  This desire led me to Burgdorf Winery in Haslett, Michigan, near our State's Capital of Lansing.

Burgdorf Winery is a 2 hour drive from my house so Frank and I made a day trip of it.  Upon arrival we were met my Dave Burgdorf who graciously welcomed us to the winery owned by him and his wife, Deb.  The winery is adjacent to the family home.  The tasting room and retail store is in what used to be their garage.  The wine is made in an outbuilding that also contains Deb's lab and the bottling room. Each area is filled with state of the art equipment.  The finished wine is stored in another outbuilding.

Dave explained that he and Deb began making wine as a result of a good wild blackberry harvest in the 1980's.  Deb begged Dave not to bring home anymore blackberries as she was tired of making pies, cobblers, jams, etc.  Dave, being who he is, couldn't not pick the blackberries that were calling his name.  Not knowing what else to do with all of these blackberries, they decided to try to make some wine.  According to Dave "it was terrible" but the winemaking, itself, was a wonderful experience.  Feeling challenged, Deb, who is a Microbiologist by trade, was determined to make a good wine.

At this point in the story, Deb arrived home and welcomed us to the winery.  Deb told us that Dave is the salesman in the business.  He handles all the acquisition of the fruit used for their wines as well as taking care of all the machinery needed for the business.

Deb is the winemaker.  Dave helps with the heavy work but Deb is the one who creates the recipes, deciding how much yeast and sugar should be added, what temperatures should be maintained, etc to realize the achievement of the final product.

Deb is well suited for this job in the lab.  She received her Masters degree in Microbiology from the University of Illinois.  Deb moved to Michigan in 1989 when she began working for the Michigan Biotechnology Institute where she remained until she and Dave decided to turn their hobby into their dream of owning their own winery in 2005.

The Burgdorfs are very proud of the fact that all of their grapes are handpicked and grown by local farmers in Michigan.  All of their machinery and products are Michigan made, down to the sugar that is used.  They have grown to include 10 employees year round and 7 additional employees who are seasonal.  They receive their grapes in 1 ton shipments and bottle once a week from April through August.  The rest of the time is spent developing and making wines, handling the administrative responsibilities and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  The Burgdorf's pride themselves on the sanity and cleanliness of their operation.

Deb and Dave are also very proud of the fact that their wines are made in the traditional method.  Deb was the second woman winemaker in the State of Michigan and has won the International Women in Wine competition.  After tasting her wines, I completely understand this.

Regular readers of this blog, know that while I try to be a Michigan wine lover, I find I prefer California wines.  I have found some Michigan white wines that I enjoy but have been hard pressed to find a red that I would choose to open over one made elsewhere.

Folks, you heard it here first, Burgdorf winery has changed my opinion.  Let's talk about the wines we sampled.

  • The first wine was a 2016 un-Oaked Chardonnay that was dry but fruity, very bright and crisp and that I can imagine sipping all by itself this summer, pool side.
  • The 2016 Chardonnay Reserve that we tried is aged with Oak chips and leaves a delicious buttery feel in your mouth.  My kind of wine and the one I am showcasing with today's recipe.
  • The 2013 Faye is made with 100% Cab Franc and was very surprising to me.  I loved this red wine that is aged with French Oak and deliciously smooth and balanced.  I bought a bottle of this as well and will be sharing my pairing during Women's History month.
  • The Marquette, named for the Hybrid grape with which it is made, had undertones of anise.
  • The Finlay's Reserve is a Cab Franc and Merlot blend with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon for good measure.  
  • The Spartan reserve was another surprising red wine made with Chambourcin grapes and aged in French Oak.  I added this to my purchases.
  • The 2013 Syrah had pepper on the nose and was quite tart.
  • The 2013 Cayuga is a crisp, slightly sweet wine that I think would be an amazing pairing with Thai food.
  • The 2013 Traminette is made of French Varietals that grow well in Michigan, and leaves you with a spicy note.
  • Perfection is the final result of that very first Black Raspberry wine that started the proverbial snowball rolling.  It is a double gold medal winner and is a perfect pairing with the chocolate that was provided.
  • The Red Raspberry wine offers syrup on the nose but is surprisingly tart rather than cloyingly sweet. 
  • The final wine we tasted, was another that we purchased as a gift for our daughter, Nicole. This 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is a Double Gold Winner and also won Best of International Show. It is like tasting a spoonful of honey.
Yes...that was a lot of wine tasted and a lot of information gathered.  Deb and Dave spent nearly two hours with us when I'm sure they had other obligations that were waiting to be handled.  I can't thank them enough for their kindness and hospitality.  It will not be our last visit to their business and I can heartily recommend that you stop by and visit when you are in that area.  You will not be sorry.

For today's Wine Pairing Weekend event, I decided to pair the Burgdorf 2016 Reserve Chardonnay with a comforting, homey Chicken and Noodle Stew.

The wine pours a golden yellow and smells of fruit and summertime.  It is full bodied with a smooth, buttery finish but acidic enough to cut through the richness of this delicious and easy Chicken and Noodle Stew.

This recipe makes only 2 servings but could easily be adapted for more.  I used leftover chicken breast meat that I had in my refrigerator but you could always poach a chicken breast in some stock if you don't have any leftovers to repurpose.

Please stop by and see the other Women Winemakers being showcased today by our Wine Pairing Weekend group.  You will find links to their articles following the recipe I'm sharing today.

Chicken Noodle Stew
adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #115

5 T. butter, divided
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 small carrots, scraped and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 c. dry white wine
3 c. chicken stock
6 oz. frozen egg noodles
1/2 c. light cream
1 T. flour
1 (6-8 oz) chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 c. frozen peas

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over med heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned and liquid is released and evaporates.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Season  with salt, pepper and thyme.  Cook over low heat until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to med high and add the wine to the pan. Cook and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, and much of the liquid is absorbed.

Whisk together the flour and cream until smooth.  Stir into the remaining broth.  Add the chicken, peas and mushrooms.  Cook and stir until sauce is thickened and chicken, peas and mushrooms are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Print Recipe

More Women in Wine


  1. The Burgdorfs are the very definition of a family winery! I'm impressed that they are able to source all ingredients locally, including the sugar. It sounds like the Chardonnay was a winner with your chicken noodle stew!

    1. It was Lauren and what a lovely couple. I was glad to have an opportunity to meet them.

  2. it sounds like I need to meet Deb.! I love blackberries AND I was a microbiologist by trade.

    1. I never knew that. You two would have a wonderful conversation.

  3. I am SO happy to learn about a wonderful Michigan winemaker, Wendy. She sounds fascinating and I love that their wines changed your mind about whites. Jared of Donkey & Goat did that for me. So wonderful.

  4. I love this story! I've had only a few Michigan wines, but generally agree that I've prefer the Sparkling and Whites--great to hear that these guys are making some worthy reds too. And that chicken noodle stew looks completely heartwarming.

  5. I've never tasted a wine from Michigan -- sounds like these are worth trying! And some interesting grapes too!

    1. Yes, I hope you get an opportunity to try some of these great wines.

  6. Fun to find a passionate local winemaker, especially for those of us not in prime wine regions!

    1. It sure is David. In fact, I am sharing the Cab Franc for OTBN next month since it also fits in with Women in Business month for March.


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