Dr. Dave Miller Michigan Wine Blog
April 20, 2011
April Showers Set Stage for 2011 Vintage Wines in Southwest Michigan
Dr. Dave Miller
Owner / Winemaker
White Pine Winery and Vineyards
I’m like anyone else this time of year – I want warm weather and spring! We paid our dues this winter now give us some warmth darn it! We went south during spring break week and usually, the weather improves when we return. This year it snowed. I can’t remember ever having this much snow this late. This Global Warming has got to stop!
But there is another side to the story. The side that has to do with grapevines and the 2011 vintage. In 2010 we had early warmth and by mid-April the boats were out on the Big Lake and it felt like summer. The fruit trees bloomed, grapevines started growing and everyone was mowing lawn. Whoo-Hooo! It was summer Baby! Then May was cool – no, it was cold. We had a series of frost events in April that culminated with temperatures around 26 F on Mother’s Day and the day after. That wiped out about 75% of my Riesling and Cabernet franc crop and reduced the juice grape crop at Welch’s to one of the lowest in history. The fruit that was left had a long, warm and relatively dry season to grow, ripen and mature and the 2010 wines are stunning. However, no one makes much money when supplies are short and wineries run out of their products before the next crop is in. So we are actually very happy that weather has remained cool this year. It keeps the plants dormant later into the spring and greatly reduces the risk of late frost. That means we should have a “normal” crop this year in terms of size. There is one more thing to consider when thinking about how the vintage is shaping up: the later things begin to grow in spring, the later each stage of growth occurs throughout the season. So a late spring means late bloom and a later start to ripening. Only time will tell how it all comes together. One thing we know for sure: no matter what the season brings, southwest Michigan will produce some superb wines.
21 March 2011
We finally made it to the spring equinox! It won’t be long now until we are enjoying warm evenings on the deck with a glass of something cold and refreshing. My favorite wines for spring are Pinot grigio and Riesling – either dry or Reserve (medium dry). Both are crisp and refreshing, just the thing to take the edge off after a long day at work or to enjoy with friends or family on the weekend.
As the seasons change my wine choices change as well. While I am looking for comfort food and heavier fare and the wines to compliment that in the winter, I want lighter fare and the appropriate wine accompaniments as the weather warms in spring. I love eating fresh local produce throughout the season. Soon we will have asparagus and morels to grace our tables. Soon after there will be strawberries, followed closely by blueberries and sweet cherries. In March and April the Steelhead run in the local rivers. Dry Riesling goes very nicely with fresh, smoked Steelhead. I hope to have some later this week.
So start thinking spring and let’s explore the best the season has to offer!
White Pine plans some fun and more intimate events in the winter for our customers to savor our wines with food pairings. Bring your friends and experience one or more of our winter events! Here is a list of upcoming events for January through March 2014:
Thursday,March 13th: 2nd annual Cabin Fever Evening:
Other Winter Events:
Saturday, January 18th: Winter Festival at Lake Michigan Colleg’s Mendel Center from 5 to 9 pm. Go to http://winterdelightsfestival.com/ for information and tickets.
Thursday January 30th: Wine Maker’s dinner at Thirsty Perch in South Haven. Contact Thirsty Perch for reservations. http://www.thirstyperch.com/
Thursday, February 6th, join Wine Maker Dr. Dave Miller for wine school at The BOB in Grand Rapids. Dr. Dave will pour samples of White Pine wines and discuss the unique combination of soil, climate and geography that makes Michigan a world – class wine producing region. Contact The BOB for details http://www.thebob.com/ .
Thursday February 13th: Wine Maker’s dinner at Tello’s in South Haven. Contact Tello’s for reservations http://www.tellobistro.com/
Thursday, March 20th: Wine Maker’s dinner at The Seccia Institute for Culinary Arts at Grand Rapids Community College. Contact the Secchia Institute for reservations.
March 28-30th: Cottage and Lake Front Living Show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.
Town of St. Joseph Events:
February 7-9th: 10th Annual Magical Ice Festival: Check out http://www.stjoetoday.com for details
Visit St. Joseph Today's Website for details of these and other events.
Varietal wines vs. blends – what’s the difference?
I love working the tasting room and answering people’s questions about our wines. Last weekend I had a question that surprised me: “ What is a varietal wine compared to a blend?” Part of my job as a winemaker and winery owner is to educate our customers so I want to share the answer with everyone. A “Varietal” wine is made from a particular variety of grape. So Pinot grigio, Riesling and Merlot are all made from grape varieties by those names. U. S. law says that the wine has to contain at least 75% by volume of the named grape variety to bear the name of that variety – hence “varietal”. Thought of another way, I can contact a grapevine nursery and order vines of Pinot grigio, Riesling or Merlot. I cannot order vines of “Serendipity” which is our finest red blend.
A blended wines is a wine made of more than one variety and usually contains less than 75% of any given variety so it can’t be named after a grape. Blends are special because the winemaker can use his or her skills at blending to produce a wine from two or more component wines. The resulting blend retains attributes of each grape variety used to make the blend so it is typically more complex than a wine made from a single grape variety.
If you have questions about our wines please send them along or stop by the tasting room. I will post answers on my Blog.