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Winter: The Season of Tranquility at Black Star Farms

The long days of harvest are over; the color tour & wedding season have come to a close leaving the farm in a state of tranquility. The sublime winter beauty is combined with the daily happenings in the wineries, vineyards and inn creating a true sense of place that is special to both new and return guests.

Enjoy our newest video and discover the quiet nature of winter at Black Star Farms.

Fall on the Farm

As autumn arrives in NW Michigan we hope for the usual warm days and cool nights to ripen the grapes to perfection.  We never know just what Mother Nature has in store, and that’s the exciting part.  By the end of September the palette changes to all shades of gold, red and ocher, the leaf peepers arrive to take in our glorious landscape, and the grape harvest begins. 

October is our busiest month at Black Star Farms.  Wine making is in full swing with long hours for our winery teams.  The Inn is full of guests lucky enough to have booked their color tour early.  All three tasting rooms are teeming with folks stocking up for the long winter ahead.  Hearth & Vine is open for the last month of their season, still serving up delicious farm-raised fare.  And it’s harvest time for our farm animals, too, who have provided such enjoyment for our visitors all summer.  This is the cycle of life at the Farm.

Come November things quiet down, but we’re still here, year ‘round, and hoping that you’ll make a visit during one of the “off” times when we have more time to spend. 

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.

Pear and its Spirit

Many of our visitors are curious how we get the pear in the bottle of the Pear and its Spirit brandy. The process begins in the spring when the bottles are tied over budding branches with hopes that a Bartlett pear will grow to maturity inside the bottle.

This year we were able to visit Delight of Life Farm and record video of the crew tying the bottles to the trees. In the video below Heather Jordan, owner of Delight of Life Farm, is gently attaching a bottle to the budding branch. Heather explained that they do not tie bottles to every bud; it has to be “just right.” When asked what she meant by this she said the budding branch has to be facing upwards or the pear will not grow well in the bottle and the bottle is also more likely to fall off the tree.

The pear is harvested inside the bottle, cleaned and washed, and the bottle is then filled with pear brandy from the same orchard and hand labeled in a special limited presentation. The pear will calcify over time as long as it is covered with the brandy. It is important to replace the brandy with our Spirit of Pear brandy when it gets close to uncovering the pear.

Pear and Its Spirit truly captures the essence of Northern Michigan fruit. The balance of fruit and alcohol reflects both the artisan skill of the distiller and the quality of the fruit. The resulting clear Pear and its Spirit delivers an explosion of succulent pear aroma and taste, rich flavor with a dry and elegant after taste.

To learn more ask about this product in our tasting room during your next visit visit to our tasting rooms up north.

Celebrate Your Birthday or Anniversary at the Inn at Black Star Farms

Are you looking for that special place to celebrate your next birthday or anniversary? Let the innkeepers and staff at the Inn at Black Star Farms take care of you.  Enjoy luxurious accomodations, award winning wines, and fabulous meals while celebrating your special day.  Join our Birthday and Anniversary Club and receive discounts each year you celebrate with us, including a 10% discount on the first year’s stay. Learn more about this club and fill out your application to join in the pdf. below.

B-DAYANNIV CLUB pdf

“We stayed there for the first time in January and were beyond impressed.”

Shannon and Cortney Casey from Michigan By The Bottle. Learn more about their experience at the inn in this video below.

Be Dazzled: Presented by Winemaker Lee Lutes

It’s the holidays and that calls for a festivity or two, making this “the time of year where sparkling wine should be everywhere, on every table, and at every setting” says Lee Lutes head winemaker here at Black Star Farms.  A bottle of bubbly is always a good choice when hosting or attending a party.

We recommend choosing an off-dry style that will please many palates as well as a dynamic range of dishes. Our 2009 Be Dazzled is made in this style and lends itself to being a great party wine at very affordable price. Learn more about this wine from Lee in the short video below.  Save 20% on the Be Dazzled with our featured monthly coupon or pick up one of the special holiday splits available for only $8.50 in all of our tasting rooms (please note the monthly coupon doesn’t apply to these).

The Omnibus Liquor Bill is now Official!

The Omnibus Liquor Bill that was vetoed earlier this fall has finally been signed and put into action. This is great news for anyone involved in the wine and spirits industry as the bill has many benefits. Read below to learn more about the bill from our managing partner Don Coe, who was instrumental in getting this bill on the table and passed.

What is this bill called and where can others find information on it?

It is the Omnibus Liquor Bill and the actual bill number is HB 6224. Information about the bill can be found on the Michigan Information (MIRS) website.

How long have you and others been advocating for this bill?

3 years

What exactly does this bill permit?

There are several different provisions to the bill they include:

  • The ability for MI wineries to charge for tastings at their tasting rooms, without a food requirement.
  • The ability for MI wineries to host off-site tastings at retail stores across the state.  
  • The ability for MI wineries to apply for a license for Sunday morning and Christmas sales.
  • MI distillers being able to sample and sell spirits at offsite tasting rooms.
  • Allowing MI restaurants to provide the spirits at a catering event.

Why did the governor originally veto the bill?

The governor opposed the amount of wine poured at the off-site retail tastings, that being 3 three oz samples. This is a large amount that she would like to see made smaller.  She also opposed the provision which would have allowed MI restaurants to provide spirits at a catered event.  She felt that this provision impacted upon the business of MI retailers who supply the spirits and would like the individual who is hosting the event to have to purchase the spirits directly from a retail store.  

Victory

After 3 years of commuting to Lansing from Traverse City to advocate for this bill, Mr. Coe is no doubt very pleased and eager to see these provisions put into action. The one he is most excited about pertains to small Michigan distillers having the opportunity to introduce their products to consumers at offsite tasting locations. “This will lead to increased exposure of the spirits as well as an increase in the demand for them at independent retailers.  This is very exciting for all of us involved in the spirits industry,” notes Coe.  On the homestretch, we are now waiting for approval from the township and county governments where our tasting rooms are located to begin sampling the spirits at all of our tasting rooms. For now if you are interested in trying any of our spirits they are available at our Old Mission tasting room only. Stay tuned for an update on when they will be at all of our sites.don

A Re-Cap of our Sparkling Wine Twitter Tasting

 

cortcase:

 

@whavill There’s always something happy about a glass of bubbly.  #bsfbubbly

DonCoyote99: Nice active bead #bsfbubbly
bstar2009: Love this! RT@whavill: I taste green apple as well with a hint of happy #bsfbubbly
DonCoyote99: Extra dry style at least, great acidity and intensity #bsfbubbly

Bubbles make everyday special…that’s what we think as well as those who participated in last week’s Sparkling Wine Twitter tasting (Tues. Nov. 16th).  The tasting featured two new bubbly vintages, including our 2010 Be Dazzled and our 2010 Bubbly Nouveau.  The wines are very different in style and taste.  Some of the featured comments are posted above. For a more complete look at what transpired that evening take a look at the transcript here. There were 307 tweets and 24 participants.  Michigan By The Bottle also posted a great re-cap video just after the tasting.  Take a look at their video below.

 

Nice Article About Michigan Wines

Howard W. Hewitt  newspaper columnist and blogger of  Grape Sense – A Glass Half Full  visited us this summer to learn more about  the Michigan Wine Industry. On his trip Mr. Hewitt  found that he was pleasantly surprised…Read more of what he has to say in this great article posted on Palate Press, The Online Wine Magazine.

 

Hard Apple Cider at Black Star Farms

In the last year hard cider has become more popular amongst beer and wine drinkers. Knowing that cider production dates back to colonial times it is fun to note that it is a beverage making a comeback.  In recent years we have been making cider from a variety of different apples. Our winemaker Lee Lutes is proud to be part of an emerging cider making movement in Michigan as well as in the Midwest and Washington.

The ciders we make at Black Star Farms are made in a “winemaker’s” style.  What we mean by this is that we aim to keep the fruit component very fresh and bright, and retard any oxidation or degradation of aromas and flavors.  In other words, this cider should taste like fresh apples right off the tree, and not like apple beer (not to take anything away from that style, but it is not what our focus is).

In addition to this style our winemaking abilities allow us to do some production processes that make the cider deeper and more complex – things like lees aging and stirring as well as some oak aging programs.  These processes are intended to make our ciders more interesting and dynamic to drink.

We use approximately 8 different apple varieties in these ciders including, Rhode Island Greenings, Winesaps, Spies, Red and Golden Delicious, Galas, Jonathon, and Crabs.  These are mostly eating/cooking apple varieties, as local farmers have not created extensive plantings of “traditional” cider varieties, but this plays out well for the style we are striving to create.

Lee and two other prominent cider producers including Dan Young from Tandem Ciders and Mike Beck from Uncle John’s Winery will be representing the state of Michigan at the upcoming Cider Days Festival in Franklin County, Massachusetts. This event represents all things cider. Lee and the others will be participating in a series of educational events including round table discussions, specialty tastings, and research to find the next best apples for cider production.

This year all of the apples for our Hard Apple Cider were pressed at our Old Mission winery. We had a large lot of up to 75 bins. This kept the winery staff busy loading, pressing, pumping, and cleaning. The end result is sure to be a cider bubbling over with the fresh taste of Northern Michigan apples. For a glimpse at the process take a look at this short picture video.