The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLWIC) is noted as the “world’s largest charitable wine competition” with a truly international diversity of wines and judges. Wines from all over the world and from each of the 50 states are judged at this event.
All of the entries are evaluated by a world-renowned panel of judges representing distributors, educators, enologists, sommeliers, restaurateurs, winemakers and writers. These diversified experts came from all over the United States and around the world.
Throughout the competition, each wine is judged on its own merit – its presence, balance and varietal character. Wines are blind judged and all wines are presented to the judges in Riedel crystal stemware. Medals are awarded for the unanimous Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze winning wines and all award winning wines are featured here.
Black Star Farms’ wines to receive medals include:
2011 Arcturos Pinot Noir
2011 Arcturos Riesling
2011 Arcturos Barrel Chardonnay
2011 Arcturos Dry Riesling
2011 Arcturos Cabernet Franc
2011 Tribute Riesling
2011 Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling
2011 Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay
All net proceeds from the competition benefit Camp Good Days and Special Times. Located in the heart of New York State’s Finger Lakes wine country, this not-for-profit organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life-threatening challenges.
For more information check out the FLIWC video.
All information for this blog entry has been obtained directly from the FLWIC press release pages.
The wine making team at Old Mission was delighted to receive this letter announcing the results of one of the oldest wine competitions in the United States. “It’s always a great honor to have our wines compete in the international competitions and have them win these accolades,” notes Head Winemaker Lee Lutes.
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. For over 30 years, they have recognized the best wines produced in the U.S. and Canada.
Wines were judged from a field of over 1037 entries. Judges awarded a total of 15 Double Gold medals, 104 Gold medals, 298 Silver medals, 308 Bronze medals and 35 Best of Class. There was also an overall Best of Show, a Best of Show Fruit Wine, Best of Show Red, Best of Show White, Best of Show Sparkling Wine and a Best of Show Rosé.
One of the Double Golds was awarded to the 2011 Arcturos Dry Riesling; two of the Golds to the 2011 Arcturos Riesling and the 2011 Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling (also won Best of Class). In addition the 2011 Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay was awarded a Bronze.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week we were thrilled to host Shannon and Cortney Casey from Michigan By The Bottle at the Inn. As avid readers of their blog we were excited to share our corner of Northern Michigan on the farm with them.
As ambassadors for the Michigan wine industry the Casey’s had visited Black Star Farms many times in the past. During this recent visit their knowledge of Black Star Farms beyond the winery was broadened as they were pampered at the Inn and given a grand tour of the property. We love how they share their experiences in this recent article on their blog and are grateful to them for all of the work they do to promote the Michigan wine industry.
A few of our favorite quotes from their article include:
“The foyer is telling of the elegance throughout, with a giant black star — the facility’s namesake — set into the white marble floor, a curving staircase, a bubbling fountain, an elegant chandelier and a long, open hallway providing views from above.” – In reference to the Inn
“It gave us more time to breathe and soak in the ambiance: the soaring ceilings, the sunlit star skylight, the vivid paintings of rural vistas. Not to mention the wine.” – In reference to their visit to the tasting room
“Down the hall is the kitchen, the source of delectable aromas every morning as Chef John ‘Street’ Dayton whips up breakfast for the guests. The Sunday morning we were there, he was preparing a concoction that both looked and smelled amazing: a potato, leek and roasted pepper hash wrapped in prosciutto, forming a column, with a Late Harvest Riesling basted egg perched atop it.” – In reference to breakfast served on Sunday morning
Thanks again Shannon and Cortney! We look forward to your next visit in the summer.