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A Tribute to the Montague Estate Vineyard

The Wineries of Black Star Farms are a unique operation in that more than 90% of its fruit is sourced from growers who have an ownership interest in the winery, in addition to their vineyards. These “wine growers” have sites that are well suited on both the Old Mission and the Leelanau peninsulas. It is from these quality sites that we are able to consistently source high quality fruit for our wines. To honor these growing partners we have created a new label that we’ve named Tribute.  These are premium wines that showcase the superior nature of these vineyard sites, and are exemplary of the vintage from which they were created.

The first Tribute wine is from the Montague Estate Vineyard on the Old Mission Peninsula. Located approximately 6 miles north of Traverse City off of M-37 this vineyard is home to Riesling, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Blanc, Regent and Dornfelder. The 56 acres of land on this site are comprised of vineyards (14 acres) and natural areas protected under a conservation easement.  The current owners Jay and Marie Hooper purchased the property in 1996 and began planting vines in 1999. The first small harvest followed in 2001 and they’ve been at it ever since.

“The property itself has quite a history beginning with Mr. Amos Montague for whom the vineyard and road it sits on is named after,” says Marie Hooper. Marie further provided insight into the ownership timeline that followed Mr. Montague and included two other individuals. “The original house and old barn foundation are still on site,” explains Marie. There have been renovations done but the Hoopers have kept most of the original flooring and woodwork. The beauty of their home is an integral part of the art on this label and was painted by local artist Christopher Smith.

The vineyards are planted on the higher elevation points on the property and are thus more suited to growing grapes. The advantages of where they are located include better water drainage and air flow (less chance of frost) as well as increased sunlight because they are both Northeast and Northwest facing slopes. Vineyards are managed by Jeremy Hooper who can be seen riding around in the “Grapes of Wrath Rover.” Invented by Jeremy this vehicle helps him move around in the vineyard rows when he is pruning and maintaining the vines.

“It has always been our dream to have a wine label and with the grower partnership we have with Black Star Farms it has become a dream come true,” says Jay Hooper who is also honored that this wine is the first one in this series.

Tribute to the Montague Estate Vineyard ($18/btl) is a dry Riesling from the 2011 vintage. There are citrus and stone fruits aromas followed by very subtle minerality. Fresh apple, orange and apricot fruit flavors combine with a hint of spice for a crisp and refreshing finish. It is a delightful wine well suited for many occasions. It is available for sale in our tasting rooms or by calling 231.944.1270.

 

 

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Managing Partner Don Coe Recieves a Distinguished Award

The Michigan Land Use Institute honored those who help carry out its important mission at the annual Milliken Reception on July 27, 2012.

The reception bears the Milliken name in honor of Governor William Milliken and his wife Helen, longtime member of the Institute Board of Directors, who dedicated their lives to defending Michigan’s environment. They believe that a clean, healthy environment is necessary for a prosperous economy.

The event is the Institute’s yearly celebration where members of the Milliken Circle are honored for their support and it gives the MLUI a chance to honor supporters who have helped in other significant ways.

This year, recognition was given to Managing Partner, Don Coe, a strong proponent of the local economy; Denis Pierce, president of Chicago-based law firm Pierce & Associates and a philanthropist with a deep belief in sustainability and fairness; and former MLUI staff member Janice Benson, who was responsible for much of the success of the Taste The Local Difference food local marketing program.

“Without the input and support of people like Don and Denis, and the work of people like Janice, our efforts to promote clean energy, support local food and farming, build thriving communities, and encourage a strong local economy would be impossible,” said MLUI Executive Director Hans Voss.

In 14 years of ownership and management Black Star Farms has emerged as a world-class winery and a shining example of the importance of local food to a local economy. Don’s actions are tied to a simple but powerful belief that farming matters in Michigan; and a conviction that if we take bold steps now, we can create a durable agricultural economy that creates lasting opportunity for generations to come. Coe received the Milliken Distinguished Leadership Award for his work.

We are honored to have managing partner Don Coe be the recipient of this special Miliken Distinguished Leadership Award. Congratulations Don!

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Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc

Is wine “made in the vineyard?” Winemakers and viticulture experts often agree to disagree on this topic. Head Winemaker Lee Lutes generally believes that it is the symbiotic relationship of viticulture and oenology that make for a phenomenal wine.

“Walk with me”…says Lutes on a crisp fall afternoon while visiting the magical Leorie Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula. This vineyard is home to the Merlot and Cabernet Franc that make the distinguished Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc. A brief bit of history ensues as we journey through the rolling hills overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay.

In its olden days this 15 acre plot was a gravel pit built into the hillside. When it was purchased 30 years ago its amphitheater shape was originally designed for development. However, with the assistance of local vintner Bernie Rink the owner was convinced of its prime suitability to grow grapes. What followed was the planting of Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The 15 year old Riesling and Cabernet Franc are located at the bottom half of the hill preceded by the 20 year old Merlot at the very top. The entire plot faces South West, another added advantage for growing red grape varietals in a cool climate. “The directional element and hillside placement provide numerous benefits for these grapes,” notes Lutes as we continue to walk through the rows of meticulously cared for vines.

Facing South West this site typically retains heat and provides more insulation to the vines. The benefits of this are two-fold, one being that it warms the soil earlier in the season and reduces the risk of frost damage and the other being that it extends the growing season further into the fall. Both of these maximize the total growing degree days, a much needed strategy for growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc in a cool climate.

“Have you ever stood at the top of a hill and felt as if the air was warmer?” asks Lutes. Being on the hill is advantageous throughout the growing season because it results in more heat than being at the bottom. In this vineyard the average difference from top to bottom is typically 15o – 20o with the hottest part being at the top where the Merlot is located. This is another advantage for growing this varietal in our region.

Lutes picks up a handful of the gravel soil and proceeds to explain how this course and porous soil provides better drainage and helps keep the vines “feet” dry throughout the season. He also notes that this soil type is very similar to that of vineyards sites in the Bordeaux region of France.

While standing on the hillside overlooking West Bay, Lutes elaborates more about the exceptional care this vineyard receives and how this in addition to all of the above leads to the birth of his prized red wine. “When these grapes arrive at the winery they are never diseased, they are ripe (often averaging 23-24 brix) and they are picture perfect. It is then the skillful job of our winemaking team to take it to the next level.”

The grapes are individually batch fermented and blended the following spring. The wine is left to meld and age for 12-16 months in new and nearly new American, French and European oak barrels. This wine is very reminiscent of a Bordeaux style blend with a higher percentage of Merlot than Cabernet Franc. The end result being a full-bodied red wine rich with dark berry fruit flavors, earthy spice and complementary oak.

When asked again if he believes that a wine is made in the vineyard, Lutes nods his head and says, “A wine may be conceived and born in a vineyard but it is carefully raised and aged in the winery.”

Double Golds for Black Star Farms’ Arcturos Rieslings

Arcturos Rieslings Win Awards at One of the Oldest Wine Competitions in the United States

Black Star Farms is proud to be part of a wine region that has continued to receive accolades for its quality wines and food destinations. The winery is honored to announce four new awards received at the 36th annual Eastern International Wine Competition.  

The International Eastern Wine Competition (IEWC) is one of the oldest and largest professional wine competitions in the United States. Judges were comprised of the most experienced and unique pool of wine industry professionals. Wines were judged from a field of over 800 wines. Judges awarded a total of 15 Double Gold, 73 Gold, 216 Silver, and 235 Bronze medals.

Two of the Double Golds were awarded to Black Star Farms’ Rieslings, including the 2010 Arcturos Dry Riesling and the 2010 Arcturos Riesling (semi-sweet). Other wines to receive medals include the 2010 Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay and the 2010 Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling – both awarded silvers.

“It’s always an honor to be recognized for the quality of our region. 2010 was certainly an exemplary vintage showcasing many of the best attributes of Riesling growing in this climate. These medals will further raise the standards by which we continue to create our wines.” – Lee Lutes, Head Winemaker

For more information about the IEWC including the full list of awards click here.

Video Feature with Don Coe & The Michigan Land Use Institute

Black Star Farms and Managing Partner Don Coe have been longtime supporters of the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) and their Taste the Local Difference program. Learn more about the environmental and community initiatives from the MLUI by visiting their website or by viewing the video below featuring Don discussing local agriculture.

 

We are proud to support this dynamic organization that continues to work for a healthy and green future.

Taste the Passion Recipes

Recipe for Spirit of Raspberry Royal

Recipe for Molten Chocolate Cakes  – Serves 4

  • 1/2 c butter – cut into chunks
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs, separate yolks and whites
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F spray four – 6 to 8 ounce ramekins and dust the insides with granulated white sugar. In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside.          

-With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.                               

 -In a clean bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and whip just until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. -Divide the batter between the prepared molds. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks moist.  Remove from oven and cakes can be served in the ramekins or popped out and served on a plate. 

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Regional Agriculture Inspires Black Star Farms’ Executive Chef

The local food movement is at the forefront of the Traverse City culinary scene. We sat down with our Executive Chef Jonathan Dayton to discusses his culinary background, his dedication to the farm to table concept and what’s instore for the culinary future at the Inn at Black Star Farms.

1. How long have you been working in the Traverse/Northern Michigan restaurant industry?

I started working in the restaurant business back in 1987 as a dishwasher at Sweitzers by the Bay. It was an easily available job in this tourist town for a high school student and I was quickly addicted to the fast pace and sense of community and family in the kitchen. I was a quick learner with a good work ethic so it wasn’t long before I was moved out of the dish pit and into prepping food and then cooking on the line. I’ve always joked that this career is one that chose me. I never went to culinary school for this chef’s life I now live. The kitchens I’ve worked in, the chefs I’ve cooked alongside and the owners that have employed me have been all I needed in this life degree. This is an ever-changing industry with new trends and techniques coming along constantly. Being a chef has been a lifelong education. I learn, see, smell or taste new things everyday I am at work. I have to evolve constantly to keep pace with it all.

2. How would you define the “local food movement?” How long have you been a part of this movement?

The attention the local food movement has been getting the last few years is nothing but positive for all involved, but keep in mind this so called “movement” has been being practiced by people and businesses for a very long time. I think the biggest difference in the last 10 years alone has to do with the availability and amount of product at hand. There has been an explosion in Northern Michigan for produce and proteins being accessible to the homeowner and restaurants like never before. The definition of this movement changes based on the consumer and what the needs for the consumer really are. Whether for yourself, a family or a business, the idea should be practiced the same throughout. Support yourself first, then your community, followed by your state and finally your country. You want to purchase any given product from a source as close to you as possible and you want this product grown or raised by methods that are healthy for the environment and humane to the animal. You also want the people who provide these services to make fair wages. Sustainability. It feels better knowing where your food comes from and I think that feeling makes it taste better. It was somewhere in the early 90′s that I really started noticing the farm to table idea catching on in local restaurants in this area. An elevated sense of pride went into each plate with the knowledge of where the food that was on it came from.  This feeling is even stronger today working where I do.

3. What do you consider “best practices” that support using locally grown produce and locally raised animals?

Well the best practice to use for me is taking advantage of what is supplied from the property I work on. The beauty of Black Star Farms in a culinary sense is that what I cook revolves around the availability first and foremost of the ingredients that are outside my kitchen back door. I have the fortune of having a creamery, bakery, winery and distillery on this property, along with the raising of some of our own proteins and the harvesting of our own agriculture. However, our food service department is far too busy to be supplied by this location alone, so other than the farmers markets and food stands I shop at the best thing that has helped supply me and other Northern Michigan restaurants with locally raised and produced products is a company called Cherry Capital Foods. They focus on sales of products primarily grown and raised in the region and state. I am supplied with a weekly availability list of produce, proteins and dairy and my menu offerings are often based off of that availability. Vice versa I can tell them what it is I’m looking for and they take that knowledge back to the farmer. It’s a very unique and involved working relationship.  I consider my work with them a key component to my success in supporting locally grown produce and products.

4. Do you at times find it difficult to adhere to using only local foods throughout the year? If so, what do you do to plan for the winter months when local produce is not as abundant?

It is difficult living in this place on the planet and staying true to buying local. As a chef, creatively it can get a little boring in the long months of the winter. Fresh produce is by far the hardest do deal with out. There are only so many things you can do with root vegetables. Believe me, I’ve tried them all. But with the darkness of winter come slower times. You just have to plan ahead the best you can by preserving as much as possible and filling up the freezer and pantry. With the emergence of farmers using more green houses and hoop houses the season can be extended later or started early but even then produce is difficult to find. I guess at the end of the day it comes down to the business you’ve built and what the clientele expect from it.

5.  Do you believe there is a future for culinary tourism in N.Michigan? If so, does it revolve around this region’s acclaim as a local food haven?

The future for culinary tourism has already arrived. It’s been fascinating to watch and a privilege to be a part of this growth in Northern Michigan. Agriculture and tourism in this state are the second and third largest industries. People have always traveled to this area for the beauty and way of life. I believe culinary tourism has been here for some time, but I do believe a significant rise has come from the emergence of our wine industry. The wine trails, both on Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula have been essential for pulling in a whole other type of crowd, the foodie type of tourist, not only from our own state but more importantly from out of state. It’s given our region notoriety in national papers and magazines, and with the rise of the restaurant also comes the rise of the farmer. The interest from this clientele for a more creative meal and wider range of offerings has expanded the culinary industry, which then allows the farmer to grow and evolve as well.

6. What are your current and future plans in the kitchen that support this movement?

Currently during these winter months I’m buying what’s left out there of the available produce. Apples and pears are still around so preserving those for the winter. Root vegetables and squash are also still abundant and if properly stored last for months. We had a huge basil and tomato harvest in my own garden here at the farm this past summer so a lot of pesto and purees were made along with soups and sauces, they are all in the freezer for upcoming menus now. As far as the future, we are just planning on doing more. Growing more produce. Raising more animals. Taking what we have at the different times of harvest in the year and creating better ways of preserving. Trying to stretch the season out. Always thinking ahead and improving. Expanding. Always learning.

Stables’ Veterinarian Receives Special Award

Last week one our Stables’ veterinarians, Dr. Tanja Molby received the Legend of the Year Award. This is an award that is considered the equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize in the horse world, and is sponsored by Bayer Animal Health.

Dr. Molby runs Equine Veterinary Services of Leelanau County and provides services to half of the horses we board in our stables. ”We are so proud of her for receiving this special award,” notes Stables Manager Kari Merz.

Read more about Dr.Molby and the award from the Ticker story here.

Award Winning Macaroni and Cheese at Black Star Farms

Executive Chef Jonathan Dayton created the most fabulous macaroni and cheese at last weekend’s Great Macaroni and Cheese Bake-Off. Their unique and savory creation was a Baked Macaroni with Leelanau Cheese and Lamb Shoulder Confit. It was topped with toasted pine nuts and house made roasted garlic basil oil (a recipe is below). Only 30 votes separated the top three restaurants, with The Cooks’ House and Jolly Pumpkin in 2nd and 3rd.

Chef Jonathan is always creating culinary magic in the recently renovated kitchen at the Inn at Black Star Farms. Inn guests are delighted at his gourmet breakfasts and hospitality hour hors d’oeuvres.  His artfully prepared dishes inspire one to savor each bite.

Dinners are also offered at the Inn on select Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and are open to the public. Meals are prepared from ingredients grown or raised on the farm or sourced from within a 100 mile radius. A complete list of dates can be found on our website calendar. For more information or to make a dinner reservation please call the innkeeper at 231.944.1251.

Baked Macaroni with Leelanau Cheese and Lamb Shoulder Confit

Lamb shoulder

1 lamb shoulder roast, netting removed

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup fresh ground black pepper

5 dried bay leaves crushed

8 cloves garlic crushed

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

6-8 cups duck fat, lamb fat, lard or extra virgin olive oil -Cure the lamb shoulder

Trim lamb into 4-6 pieces. Rub the meat with the salt, pepper and bay leaves and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Marinate the lamb

Rinse the lamb of the salt mixture and dry well. Place in a clean bowl with the rest of the mix and incorporate. Cover again and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Confit the lamb

Place lamb in a large enough pot/dutch oven so there is at least 4 inches of space between the meat and top of the rim. Cover meat with the chosen fat or olive oil and bring to a temperature where you see just a few bubbles rising, the key being to cook at a very low temperature at a slow pace. This can also be done in an oven at around 225F. Cook the lamb for 8-12 hours until the meat is soft and almost falling apart to the touch. Cool the meat on the counter at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted garlic basil oil

12 cloves garlic

4 cups extra virgin olive oil

½ pound fresh basil cleaned and de-stemmed roast garlic on stove top at medium until garlic rises to the top. Pull off burner and let cool to room temperature. Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil and drop basil in for 10-15 seconds. Pour into colander and then ice bath the basil immediately. Dry basil well by pressing with kitchen towel until all moisture is absorbed. Use multiple towels if necessary. Add basil and roasted garlic oil in blender and puree well. Place oil in refrigerator for 12 hours. Strain the oil thru some cheesecloth into a container and then pour into a squeeze bottle.

Macaroni and cheese

1/2-pound macaroni

3 tablespoons lamb fat

3 tablespoons flour

½ cup leeks

3 cloves roasted garlic

3 cups milk

6 oz. fromage blanc

6 oz. raclette

2-3 cups lamb confit

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup panko

1-tablespoon butter

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta al dente. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot warm the lamb fat over medium heat and add leeks. Caramelize the leeks stirring frequently for 4 -6 minutes. Whisk in the flour and garlic, keep the mixture moving for about 5 minutes to create your roux. Make sure it is free of any lumps. Whisk in the milk and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Incorporate the cheese until melted. Fold in your pasta and lamb confit and season to taste. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish. Melt butter in a saucepan and add panko and pine nuts to coat. Top the macaroni with the panko pine nut crust and bake for 30 minutes at 300F. Cut and plate garnishing with the roasted garlic basil oil.

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Toast the Season Chocolate Truffle Torte Recipe

Here is Chef Stephanie’s recipe for the decadent Chocolate Truffle Torte served at the Toast the Season event.

 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whipping cream

1 lb. quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 oz. strong coffee

1 tablespoon Sirius Raspberry Dessert wine

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon flavorless, granulated gelatin

Directions

Use chilled 1 1/2 cups of the whipping cream and beat cream to medium peaks.

Using a bowl in the top of a double boiler, or microwave safe bowl combine chocolate chips, coffee, dessert wine and butter then melt together until smooth.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream into a metal bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin. Allow gelatin to “bloom” for 10 minutes. Then carefully heat by swirling the bowl over a low gas flame. Do not let the gelatin boil.  Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.

Fold in the whipped cream in two doses and freeze in pans until solid.  You can then cut into whatever form you like or use cookie cutters to make shapes.  Finish with chocolate ganache or any sauce you would like.

By |November 12th, 2011|Inn|4 Comments