A Taste of Northern Michigan Spirits

We are pleased to add Grand Traverse Distillery as a co-licensee at TASTES and are now able to add their grain-based distilled products to our fruit based brandies to offer visitors a “taste” of Northern Michigan distilled products.

Grand Traverse Distillery has won numerous national awards for their small batch wheat and rye-based vodkas, cherry and chocolate flavored vodkas and their Ole George 100% rye whiskey.

Learn more about Michigan distilled products by stopping to sample our extensive line of spirits. There is a $5 fee for tasting any three spirits.

For the connoisseur and collector of fine barrel aged spirits we provide the opportunity to make your own whiskey. We stock empty barrels in 1, 2 and 3 liter sizes, and you can pick from among five un-aged spirits. These include two styles of bourbon, a 100% rye as well as Irish or Scotch blends. Simply fill your barrel, age to your taste and amaze your friends with your own distinctive spirit.

TASTES of Black Star Farms is housed in one of North America’s largest and most innovative redevelopment projects – the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. They are open:

Sunday from 12 to 4 pm

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am to 7 pm

Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 p.m

For more information please call 231.944.1349.

5 Delightful Days in Northern Michigan

The Grand Traverse Bay area abounds with possibilities. There are endless miles of beaches alongside quaint towns with unique shops and galleries, wineries and breweries galore, and an array of culinary destinations. There is certainly something for everyone. Here we have compiled 5 days of itineraries filled with activities that will delight your senses and leave you with the most memorable experiences.

Day One:

Start your tour in the village of Suttons Bay. The main street is lined with colorful store fronts where you could easily shop and spend several hours. There are beaches, galleries, antique shops, boutiques featuring clothing and accessories, as well as the historic Bay Theater dating from the 1940’s. There are 14 different dining choices in the village ranging from deli-style to sit-down featuring gourmet local fare.  The schooner Inland Seas, a schoolship fostering knowledge of the Great Lakes, is moored in the harbor.  If you are up for more we recommend visiting the nearby Leelanau Peninsula Wineries for wine tasting. Several are close to the village, including L. Mawby, Shady Lane Cellars, Ciccone Vineyard and Winery, Chateau de Leelanau, and Willow Vineyard. Close out the day with a casual meal at one of Suttons Bay’s most popular pubs, Boone’s Prime Time. They feature superb steaks, fresh seafood and great burgers in a cozy rustic atmosphere. 

Day Two:

Relax and take your time on a scenic drive north along M-22 that hugs the western shore of Grand Traverse Bay. Cherry and apple orchards dot the landscape along this sublime route to Leelanau State Park with its Grand Traverse Lighthouse. A mid-route must is a stop at Tandem Ciders just off Setterbo Rd. where you can nibble on peanuts and sample sweet and hard ciders in a quaint tasting room filled with antiques and unique art. After visiting the State Park drive back through Northport and continue your scenic drive southwest along M-22 to Leland, a picturesque 145-year-old fishing village. Be sure to visit the historical district, known as Fishtown, where you can browse in shops that were once rustic fishing shanties alongside docks reminiscent of life and commercial fishing one hundred years ago. Stop for lunch and a bowl of locally renowned seafood chowder from the Cove or pick up a sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty.  In Fishtown you can stock up on sweet treats at the Dam Candy Store where you’ll find old fashioned sweet treats along with ice cream or coffee. After a day of exploration relax for dinner back at one of the fine restaurants in Suttons Bay or in the Arcturos Dining Room at the Inn at Black Star Farms (subject to availability, please call ahead to make a reservation, 231.944.1251).  

Day Three

Plan a day of shopping and dining in downtown Traverse City. You will find more than 150 unique boutiques, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops along Front St.  Shopping highlights include Wilson Antiques, The Cherry Stop, and Ella’s Fashion and Furnishings. During the summer and early fall on Wednesday and Saturday mornings don’t miss the downtown Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market. It’s a delight to the senses! Rainy day activities in Traverse City could include a visit to the Dennos Museum on the campus of Northwest Michigan College or a first-run movie at the renovated State Theatre. For lunch try the Green House Café for fresh homemade soups and sandwiches. After lunch head a few blocks west over to the Village at Grand Traverse Commons; one of North America’s largest historic redevelopment projects. Here you will find the century-old Victorian-Italianate style buildings that were once part of the Traverse City State Hospital, and previously, the Northern Michigan Asylum. The Village is a marvel to explore. From the miles of hiking trails and expansive lawns to the shops in the Mercato, one can easily spend several hours here. Don’t miss wine tasting at Left Foot Charley followed by a Matterhorn Grill Dinner at TASTES of Black Star Farms.

Day Four

Take a leisurely drive to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park with its variety of touring options.  The Dune Climb is a must, as is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and you can also step back in time with a visit to the U.S. Coast Guard Museum. Dine where the locals do for lunch at the one-of-a-kind Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor. Just a walk up the road from Art’s is the original home of the Cherry Republic, a haven for all things cherry!  You can sample cherry salsa, cherry ice cream and even cherry wine. Take the scenic route back to Suttons Bay and enjoy wine tasting at any of the nearby Leelanau Peninsula wineries, Good Harbor Vineyards, Bel Lago, and Chateau Fontaine.

Day Five:

Start the day with a south-bound drive on M-22, along the bay in Traverse City, and towards the Old Mission Peninsula. Follow M-37 all the way to the top of the Peninsula, ending at the Old Mission Point Light House.  You can tour the grounds of this historic 1870’s lighthouse and see how the peninsula people lived in the adjacent turn of the century Hessler Log Cabin. Stop at the historic Old Mission General Store for a gourmet deli sandwich or pizza and a few pieces of penny candy. A visit here is like stepping back in time.  Continue south on M-37 with stops along the way at the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula. There are seven wineries all situated right off of M-37. Each winery has a signature wine and they are all different in décor. With a designated driver one could easily visit all seven. A day of wine tasting will no doubt work up an appetite.  No visit to the Old Mission Peninsula would be complete without a meal at the Jolly Pumpkin featuring microbrew beers and artisan cuisine served in a uniquely historic building.

Do you have more plans on your intinerary? We’d love to hear how you spent your days in N.Michigan, please share your story and photos, cbriggs@blackstarfarms.com.

Up on the Farm – June 6th

On tap this weekend – the Leland Wine and Food Fest under the tent in Historic Fishtown. This is one of this area’s premier events – the official start to the Leelanau Peninsula summer – the place to see and be seen, sip a little local wine, taste the local fare, enjoy the music, and kick off the summer season. We’ll be there, as will Anne with her Leelanau Cheese Co. tastes, so stop by on Saturday from 12 to 6 and say hi. If you find a wine you’d love to take home and can’t wait to get to our Tasting Room on Sunday (open noon-5) just head over to the Village Cheese Shanty or the Merc. Both have a good supply of our wines and Anne’s cheese. Or, better yet, bring your wine fest glass to our Tasting Room on Sunday (June 10th) we’ll give you 10% off on your wine purchases.

We’re booked at the Inn this weekend, but have rooms available all next week (June 10-17) including the weekend. This doesn’t happen often. It’s the perfect time to visit. Give Jill or Kelly a call at 231.944.1251.

Lee and the crew hung bottles last week in the nearby Mikowski orchard for our Pear and its Spirit, our pear-in-the-bottle brandy. That’s Ray getting ready to tie a bottle to a branch for ray-hanging.jpgsupport. The neck of the bottle must point down to keep the rain out. With any luck in September we’ll have 400 good, usable pears from the 600 bottles hung.

Last week’s warm weather and this week’s rain have made the grapevines pop. Workers tied the new shoots to the first wires last week in the vineyard.

Our petting zoo is open. The momma goats have returned and are expecting any time late in June. Popcorn is the newest kid and joined Cinnamon and Nutmeg. Lambs, llamas, pot-bellied pigs and miniature horses round out the menagerie. Baby bunnies are ready for new homes – and we have a whole new batch of kittens that’ll be looking for homes in a few weeks. Let Diane know if you’re interested – dainek@blackstarfarms.com.

The sheep shearer was in last week to give the lambs their summer clip. It was so much fun to watch that we’re making it a spring event next year. We’ll let you know when. During the course of shearing we discovered that “Flower” our little black sheep is actually a boy! Big OOPS there. We’re looking for a new manlier name for him.

Nic has been busy with more planting of vegetables. He reports that there are still places available for our inaugural CSA. You can find a sign-up sheet on this website and enjoy fresh produce weekly or bi-weekly all summer. Work is moving along on our farmers market with an end-of-June opening day soon to be announced.

Leelanau Cheese Co. is featured in the newly published The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese by Jeffrey P. Roberts. Anne and John are the only producers of traditionally made Raclette in the US, and they have the medals to prove just how good their cheese is. They make about 21,000 pounds of Raclette yearly which sounds like a lot, but it’s only distributed in our local area, and tripling production would still not be enough to satisfy their customers.

We hope to see you soon, up on the Farm

BlackStarFarms.com tapped as a top-10 Michigan web site!

Black Star Farms web siteThe Midwest Business and Technology News has named the Black Star Farms web site as the 9th best business web site in the state of Michigan.

The publication rated web sites based upon navigation, look and feel, uniqueness, useful and fresh content, and we feel honored to be included on their list. They did suggest we do a little work on our content. Any readers have ideas for enhancing it?

Check out MidwestBusiness.com’s List of Top 10 Web Sites in Michigan.

Leland Festival a hot ticket, Arcturos a hot label

Arcturos Pinot Gris

Detroit News wine writer Sandra Silfven reminds you that the hot ticket Up North next weekend is the annual Leland Wine & Food Festival. The event is held next Saturday (June 9) and features 15 wineries, 14 food vendors and live music at Leland harbor from noon to 6 PM. Black Star Farms will be on hand – drop by and say hello!

Can’t make it north? How about the Great Lakes Great Wine Tasting, held from 6-8:30 PM next Thursday (June 7) at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills. Sandra taps Black Star Farms’ Arcturos as a “Hot Label”.

Read Regional wines on parade in the Detroit News.

Chairman's Award

Our Arcturos ’06 Semi-Dry Riesling has earned the Chairman’s Award – unanimous gold – at the 2007Riverside International Wine Competition. This prestigeous California competition also awarded bronze medals to Arcturos ’05 Pinot Noir and to Arcturos ’05 Pinot Gris.

Wine touring in Northern Michigan

The Inn at Black Star farmsDetroit News wine writer Sandra Silfven has a nice feature about spring and early summer wine touring in Northwest Michigan that begins:

If you’re planning a wine trip to Northwest Michigan, now is a good time to go: The inns have a few spare rooms, restaurants that close for the winter are open again; tasting rooms have longer hours; traffic is not as heavy.Here’s a preview of what’s new and what you should look for.

At Black Star Farms: The 160-acre farm/winery/luxury inn just south of Suttons Bay is always finding a new way to showcase Michigan agriculture. The latest is the conversion of one of the barns into a farmers market, opening in June, which will eventually also house a commercial food kitchen for making the inn’s jams, jellies and toppings.

The farmers market, explains managing partner Don Coe, will operate year-round and feature produce grown at Black Star and at area farms.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate the connection between the local farm community and consumers, and demonstrate sustainable agriculture,” said Coe.

Read the rest of Northwest Michigan wineries gear up for summer travelers from the Detroit News.

BSF Blog

Have you ever wanted to add your two cents worth about any of our news items? Well, now you can. Just click on “comments” below any article and let us know what you’re thinking. We’d love to hear from you.

Silver Medal

Leelanau Cheese Co. has won a Silver Medal for their mild Raclette at the 2007 United States Championship Cheese Contest. The medal in the Open Class for Semi-Soft Cheeses was announced by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association on March 14th.

Pinot Noir in The Wall Street Journal

They really like us! We received another mention in The Wall Street Journal on December 22nd in the weekly Tastings column by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. They said,

Good wines are being made all over the US now…we had a lovely Pinot Noir from Michigan a couple of weeks ago, 2004 Black Star Farms Arcturos reasonably priced at $22.50.

Unfortunately, the ’04 vintage is just about gone, but the ’05 is ready to be released, and our winemaker thinks it’s our best ever Pinot Noir.