The Detroit News Worthwhile reading if you
Wine RepoRt buy wine on the web
Food & Wine 4F Friday April 10, 2009
to be different
with fruit wine
The Detroit News
Bruce Simpson was a soft-spoken son of the land, a third-
generation cherry farmer in Leland, Mich., who was instrumen-
Sandra Silfven tal in the growth of the Michigan wine industry — but was too
unassuming to ever tell you that.
The founder of Good Harbor Vineyards in 1980, Mr. Simp-
Taste son was one of the earliest Michigan vintners to blend hybrids
and European varietals and give them proprietary names. He
was one of the founders of the Leland Wine Festival, the big-
Michigan gest wine event up north, which is almost a quarter-century old.
And he assisted numerous Leelanau County wineries in select-
ing vineyard sites, and then helped plant them.
wines But more than that, he was described by those who knew him
as the definition of a kind man.
Simpson, 56, died March 11 at University Hospital in Ann
“My dad was magnanimous — the nicest guy
I ever met in my life, my best friend,”
About the time the tulips poke said son Sam Simpson, 22, who
their heads out of the earth and the canceled plans to be a
robins start to sing, Michigan win- financial analyst at
eries roll into action. General Mills to help
At the new Forty-Five North run operations at the
Vineyard & Winery in Leelanau winery. He will join
County, which opens this summer, his mother, Debbie,
winemaker Shawn Walters says the who was married 30
bottling line is humming, and he’s years to Bruce Simp-
fermenting fruit wines, fruit meads son, and sister, Jo-
and sparkling apple cider in the cel- anna, 28, who gave
lar. Plus he just finished making a up her position at a
custom Riesling for Scott Harvey, prestigious whole
of Scott Harvey Wines in Napa Val- sale house.
ley. “You can’t let the
“It’s far from not busy around business die,” said Sam, who studied enology and viti-
here,” he said. culture at Michigan State University.
But for visitors, it’s the perfect “My dad had a really curious mind. He was always pon-
time to plan a trip — before the on- dering and thinking. He had a holistic approach to farming.
slaught of summer and fall tourists. First and foremost, he was a farmer, and made his wine out in
The whites from last year’s vintage the vineyard,” Sam said.
and some of the reds are bottled Bruce Simpson worked on his father’s farm
and many are available this month, when he was growing up, and since it was never
which gives early birds first dibs. an option in the Simpson family not to get a
Gov. Jennifer Granholm recom- college degree.
mends April at the wineries, too, Simpson graduated from Michigan
and made it official in a recent dec- State University, and showed an interest
laration: April is “Michigan Wine MCT news service in wine.
Month.” At the urging of his father, he went
Lake Effect Winery is the newest
To coincide, the 2008 edition of on to study winemaking and viticulture
winery located on Michigan’s lakefront
the annual Michigan Wine Country at the University of California-Davis.
in Muskegon County. They use premium
wine and touring guide is just out,
fruits and berries to create unique red wines. Please see page 4F
and the Michigan Wines Web site,
produced by the Michigan Grape
and Wine Industry Council, has a
bright new design. Around the state
and in Metro Detroit, there are wine
events galore. Every Michigan win-
ery has something special planned.
Lake Effect Winery’s new premium fruit wine flavors
Here’s a sampling:
Michigan Wine Month highlights
Apple Black & Blue Cherry
Semi-dry. Reveals full apple Semi-dry. Hearty-flavored Semi-dry. Made from
• The new Michigan Wine
Country guide is up to 46 pages, aroma. Mildly dry blend of premium Michi- Michigan tart cherries.
and the ads are as much fun as the and finishes with slightly gan blueberries and black Smooth, clean, crisp and
stories because they give wineries sweeter taste. Best currant fermented to refreshing. Compliments
a chance to tell their own stories.
MCT news service served chilled. MCT news service perfection. MCT news service food or savored by itself.
$11.99 $12.99 $11.99
Many tourist-related businesses —
B&Bs, restaurants, wine shops and
more — have helpful ads, too. The
back of the guide lists all of the win-
eries with directions and maps. The Source: www.lakeeffectwinery.com
guide is free, and it makes a visit
so much easier. Order one online
at www.michiganwines.com or by
calling (517) 241-1207. Also find
them at the wineries and in tourism
Good wine at a good price, new value in tough times
• The official Web site of the Even the grandest wines are caught in Before that it was kabinett rieslings, the delicate, almost labels may offer an additional designation indicating that a
Michigan wine industry, www. fragile wines that have always epitomized spring with their spätlese is almost dry (spätlese halbtrocken) or that it is bone
michiganwines.com, has a new the cost crunch and wineries find ways almost hesitant bit of sweetness, peeking through like a new dry (spätlese trocken).
look, new content and a search to offer good wines with good values bud. To make matters even more complicated, some produc-
option, which is good because the Our subject this year is spätlese, perhaps the most appeal- ers of dry riesling opt out of these ripeness designations
wineries are listed by their section Eric Asimov ing expression of German riesling, except for the others I’ve and use a completely different nomen-
of the state, and what if you don’t New York Times mentioned. The term spätlese (pronounced SHPATE-lay- clature for their wines. That’s the
know where the winery is located? zuh) refers to the degree of ripeness at which the grapes are beauty of the German system: You
• Three Northern Michigan People have already heard me sing the song of harvested. In the German system of ripeness classification, keep banging your head against a
winemakers — Bryan Ulbrich of German riesling in the springtime, you’ll have the grapes with the least amount of sugar are destined for wall of terminology, and just at the
Left Foot Charley , Sean O’Keefe to forgive me. But it’s a song that bears repeat- kabinett wines. Then comes spätlese, and then the riper point it begins to really hurt you.
of Chateau Grand Traverse and ing — at least annually — because it simply is auslese, beerenau slese, trockenbeerenauslese and
Spencer Stegenga of Bowers Har- a perfect seasonal melody in almost all of its eiswein.
bor Vineyards — will present two manifestations. Yes indeed,
days of events in Grand Rapids on What do I mean by that? Well, no wine is more versatile they are a mouth-
April 16-17. They will sign bottles than German riesling. It doesn’t just excel as a sweet wine ful. What’s more,
and offer discounts on select wines and a dry wine, it excels at many different degrees of sweet- these terms, par-
from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, ness and dryness. ticularly spätlese,
at G.B. Russo & Son, 2770 29th At each stop on the spectrum from dry to sweet, you have don’t always tell
St. S.E. Call (616) 942-2980; and a wine of a different character, with different qualities, filling you how a wine
that evening, they will host a six- different needs and offering different pleasures. will actually taste
course dinner at Thornapple Daily That’s why I can write about German rieslings every because they de-
Grill in Ada, $75 per person, with spring and never feel as if I’m repeating myself (at least, not scribe the grapes before MCT news service
reservations required. Call (616) to my ears). fermentation. It’s up to With the economy taking a downfall,
676-1233. They will then be fea- Why, last year I wrote about dry German rieslings. The the winemaker to decide even the expensive wines are having
tured at a fundraiser to benefit cys- truth is, even though many people assume all German ries- whether to to decrease prices to keep good
tic fibrosis research, from 6:30-8:30 lings are sweet. stop fermentation early sales. Washington state’s Milbrandt
p.m. Thursday, April 17, at Eve Most of the rieslings that people drink in Germany are on, leaving a considerable Vineyards, which has the advantage
nightclub in The BOB, downtown dry. The best of these are exceptionally delicious. amount of residual sugar, or of growing its own grapes, is one such
Grand Rapids. Cost is $25, and res- The year before, I wrote about auslese rieslings, highly to ferment the wine longer, winery, offering good wine at a
misunderstood wines that have a lot of residual sugar but are until it is completely dry. For reasonable price.
Please see page 4F so well balanced that they do wonderfully at the table. that reason, German wine