Thursday, April 11, 2024

Enjoying the Hybrid Wines of Old Mission Peninsula #WorldWineTravel

 The World Wine Travel group is gathering this month to discuss Hybrid wines.  These are wines made by crossing two grapes to make a new varietal.  In Michigan, we have many hybrid grapes.  Native to our State are Riverbank Grapes, most often used as ground cover or as food for birds and small animals.  They can also be turned into jams and are safe for human consumption.


The first grapes grown commercially in Michigan were juice grapes, Concord and Niagara. Michigan still produces much of the grapes used by Welch's in their juice.

Today, Michigan is the 8th largest producer of grapes in the nation, according to this article by Michigan Wine Country.  We grow more than 50 different grape varieties, including the single varieties native to Europe.

Michigan Facts
 More Fun Facts about Michigan

Some of our French/American hybrids include Cayuga, Chambourcin, Seyval, Traminett, and Vignols.  Many of these hybrids are grown in Northern Michigan across the 45th parallel that travels through the Bordeaux area of France and the Chianti area of Italy.

We decided to take a road trip for this World Wine Travel Event that is being hosted by Jeff of Food Wine Click.  Before making this decision, however, I had purchased a bottle of Black Star Farms Red House Red.  I could not find information on the exact grapes used in this wine but the winemaker's notes read:
A favorite in my house, this red table wine is an exciting blend of vinifera and hybrid varieties. It results from the thoughtful art of blending by our winemaking team. This unique blend gives the wine a pleasant balance between ripe red fruit and earthy rusticity.
It is a dry red wine that is very drinkable.  We paired it with Smoked BBQ Ribs the evening before we left on our road trip.  It is a casual wine, perfect with casual fare.

We love Black Star Farms and often visit their vineyards in Leelanau.  They also have vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula and this is where we are headed this week.  Come join us on our road trip...

Map of Michigan


It was raining when I awoke this morning but now, at 7 am, it has cleared and the sun is rising.  We will be heading out in a couple of hours.  Our first stop will be in Kalamazoo where we will have lunch with our dear friend, Sister Maryann.

Collage of Hotel Room and Map

After lunch, we leisurely made our way to Frankfort where we enjoyed dinner at a brewery and a suite at The Hotel Frankfort.  We did order a bottle of wine with our dinner, however, it was not a Michigan wine or a hybrid wine but a bottle of Bonanza Cabernet from California.



We walked down to the beach in the morning and then over to the coffee shop that partners with the hotel during the off-season for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. We headed over to Blue Vase Book Exchange and visited for a bit with Jen and Randy, making dinner plans for tomorrow evening.

Empire Bluffs

We headed over to the Empire Bluffs and enjoyed a wonderful hike up to the top where we were rewarded with this spectacular view.

Why Knot Inn and Lunch

After our hike, we traveled north up the coast soaking in the beauty and stopping in the little towns of Glen Arbor and Leland before stopping to have lunch at the Why Knot Inn in Omena.  The Why Knot Inn shares space with Leelanau Winery.  We ordered a bottle of their Chardonnay and some smoked white fish dip made with the popular local catch in this area.  

The Leelanau Chard is unoaked, bright, crisp, and acidic.  It paired perfectly with the smooth, smoky, decadent white fish spread.

Chateau Grand Traverse

We then traveled the rest of the Leelanau Peninsula and along Grand Traverse Bay to Old Mission Peninsula where we checked in to our room at Chateau Grand Traverse.  After checking in, we did some tasting to choose which bottle of complimentary wine we wanted sent to our room.  

We tasted several wines and spoke with the server who told us that they did not have any wines made with Michigan Hybrid Grapes but did give us a taste of their 2020 Ensemble Red Blend which includes a German Hybrid, Blaufrankish.  That was not one of our choices for the bottle in our room but we do get a glass of wine included each night and that is available so I will enjoy a glass tomorrow and share my tasting notes.

We checked into our room, which was lovely, and discovered not only our bottle of wine but scrumptious homemade cookies!!  We had a nice visit with the manager of the inn and the chef who will provide our breakfast in the morning. 

The Inn has lovely common areas, and plenty of outdoor seating with great views, both from our private balcony or off of the common areas should we want to visit with others.  Besides cookies, complimentary snacks are provided both in our rooms and in the common areas. Charcuterie boards are available for order and delivered anywhere on the property where you would like to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat.

Boathouse Restaurant

We went to our favorite restaurant that we visit when in Northern Michigan, The Boathouse.  I enjoyed the Halibut, Frank had the filet and we shared a dessert while watching the sunset.  We did not have Michigan wines with dinner.  I enjoyed a Jordan Chardonnay and Frank had a Duckhorn Cabernet, both from California.  We did enjoy a locally made dessert wine, Sirius Raspberry from Blackstar Farms, yes the same maker of the hybrid I shared at the beginning of this post.


mission peninsula hike

In the morning we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the Inn before heading to the end of the Peninsula for a hike that started and ended at this lighthouse.  Then we leisurely made our way back to our Inn stopping at two wineries for tastings before lunch at a deli.  


Before dinner, we stopped by the tasting room and I had a glass of the Chateau Grand Traverse Ensemble Red.  It is a blend of Cabernet Dorsa, Blaufrankisch, Dornfelder and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Dorsa was created in 1971 in Germany.  It is a hybrid of Blaufrankisch and Dornfelder. Blaufrankisch is a grape native to Germany. Dornfelder, like Cabernet Dorsa, is a hybrid also created in a lab in Germany in 1955.  

These grapes were bred to grow in cool growing climates.  I was not crazy about this wine.  I did not have any food with which to pair it however the label calls for bold, strong food pairings and I can see that it may help tone down this wine a bit.

I am learning that the wines of Mission Peninsula are made with European Varietals whereas the Michigan Hybrids are planted mostly downstate where the area is flatter and the water not as close such as at Burgdorf Winery that I showcased in 2018 for our Wine Pairing Weekend Event featuring Women Winemakers.

Wednesday evening we had dinner with Jen and Randy at Apache Trout Grill.  No Photos as we were too busy catching up with each other.  It had been far too long. This morning we head back southeast towards home.  The wine tasting is complete and while it wasn't successful for this event, it was a very successful and enjoyable getaway for us and I'm glad that I can share it with you.

We are not going to have any chat this month but we do have a great lineup of articles where you can learn more about hybrid and PIWI grapes.

• Camilla at Culinary Cam shares "A Taste of the Mid-West: Double-Decker Butter Burgers & A Multi-County Marquette from Wisconsin + Fun House Potatoes from Minnesota"
• Terri at Our Good Life shares "Missouri’s Most Popular Hybrid: the Norton"
• David at Cooking Chat shares "Exploring Marquette Wine Pairings"
• Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares "Marcel Zanolari and PiWi Grapes in the Valtellina Valley"
• Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares "Vidal ice wine brings back memories of NY Finger Lakes"
• Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog shares "A Taste of Mad Marvlus Wines"
• Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares "Enjoying the Hybrid Wines of Old Mission Peninsula"
• Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares "Oh, hi, hybrids! Adam Tolmach experiments with UC Davis to replant his Ojai Vineyard"
• Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares "Marquessa - a Marquette Hybrid Appellation"


  1. No better reason for a road trip than going on a hunt for wine!

  2. A fun road trip! A reminder that Michigan has quite a lot of wine production.


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