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.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p96pNWof90U[/youtube]

Cortney Casey from Michigan By The Bottle shares the story behind the popular Tweet & Taste Michigan Twitter Events. Thanks Cortney and Shannon for all that you do to promote the Michigan wine industry!

For wine lovers, few experiences are as enlightening as sitting down with local winemakers and picking their brains on the labor and love behind transforming what’s in the vineyard to what’s in your glass.

That’s the concept that spurred MichiganByTheBottle.com’s Tweet & Taste Michigan series, which built upon similar successful “virtual tastings” in other wine-producing regions across the country. The weeknight event encourages Michigan wine fans to purchase specific wines from a featured winery or wine trail (typically with discounted shipping), then “meet up” on Twitter to discuss their impressions and directly ask questions of the winemakers themselves, who also take part.

You name it, the winemakers have answered it, from queries about their vineyard practices, grape sourcing, oak techniques and appropriate cellar-stashing periods to tasting room ambiance, pricing and distribution, winery history and popularity of specific wines.

Everyone uses a hashtag, #ttmi, at the end of their “tweets” to ensure they can follow the conversation, creating a chat room-like environment. Helping augment the conversation are several facilitators, including myself and my husband, Shannon Casey, founders of Michigan By The Bottle; Claudia Tyagi, a master sommelier; and several wine bloggers from throughout Michigan and beyond.

Black Star Farms was the first to team up with us when we launched the project back in March, and the inaugural Tweet & Taste was a resounding success, attracting 70 active participants contributing nearly 900 tweets. We’ve since followed up with successful TTMI events highlighting Shady Lane Cellars, Lake Michigan Shore wineries, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula and, most recently, Silver Leaf Winery. We’re already working on plans for the next one!

While admittedly nothing can top a face-to-face rendezvous with the makers of our favorite Michigan wines, not all of us fanatics are lucky enough to live along a wine trail, where such interactions might be more feasible. And meeting up in person with wine lovers scattered across Michigan would likewise be a challenge. Tweet & Taste is the next best thing — with the added benefit that virtual wine tasting “party” can be attended in such haute couture as slippers and PJ pants!

On Nov. 16, Black Star Farms will be hosting its own virtual tasting on Twitter, and we’re eager to take part. An ardent fan of sparkling wine, I’m chomping at the bit to try the two new releases slated for sampling that evening: the 2009 BeDazzled and the 2010 Bubbly Nouveau (soon to be listed on their website).

Twitter tasters can give their impressions and get answers from Black Star Farms’ affable winemaker, Lee Lutes. The event starts on Twitter at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 using hashtag #bsfbubbly. To find Black Star Farms on Twitter look under @bstar2009.

To ensure you catch all the action, we at MichiganByTheBottle.com recommend using a Twitter client like TweetChat.com, which will automatically add your hashtag to each tweet and help you easily follow the fast-moving conversation.

To encourage participation, Black Star Farms will be offering the pair of bubblies for $20, a 20 percent discount off the regular price of $12.50 apiece. They’ll be available in all three Black Star Farms’ locations (the Bubbly Nouveau is being released at the BSF wine dinner Nov. 12, and available to the public after that) and also can be shipped throughout Michigan and to various other states. For more information, call Coryn Briggs at (231) 944-1311.

 We hope to “meet” you online Nov. 16! Cheers!

Roasted Corn and Butternut Squash Saladblogpicture

  • 12 ears of corn
  • 5 cups of diced butternut squash, about the size of the corn kernel
  • 1 cup of chopped green onions
  • ½ cup minced roasted garlic
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup finely diced red pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tbsp chopped chives
  • ½ cup of good olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Apple Cider Reduction

  • 2 Gallon apple cider
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup maple syrup

Roast corn, husk on, in preheated oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Let cool, peel cob and remove corn. Boil butternut squash for 10 minutes or until tender. Don’t overcook as they become mashed quickly. You want them to still be a bit firm. Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix well but gently as to not mash the squash. Let it set in the refrigerator for an hour or so to let the flavors infuse. Add all reduction liquids in a pot and bring to a boil. Be careful as this mixture tends to really bubble up. Simmer and let reduce for an hour or more until liquid becomes almost syrup like. I made a 4 gallon batch that reduced to maybe 4 cups. Set aside and let cool.

This is a great multi functional salad. I used this as a room temperature salad in a baked won-ton cup garnished with the reduction and pumpkin seeds for the LPVA event. The next day I used it as a hash for breakfast with a poached egg and hollandaise. Then I turned it into cakes for an appetizer! And finely, I added this mix in with some risotto and stuffed that in a portabella mushroom for dinner. Be creative and be sure to use seasonal local ingredients. Enjoy!

Join us at the farm for a casual FAMILY FARM DINNER on the patio at the Hearth and Vine Café on Sunday, July 25 from 6-9pm Featuring foods from our farm and our neighboring farms Just give us a call for info or to let us know you’ll be stopping by! 231.944.1297

We are excited to be a part of the upcoming Grow Benzie summer picnic on their farmstead in Benzonia. The picnic will feature gourmet summer fare prepared by chefs Hosea Rosenberg and Dave Query. Hosea is a chef at Jax Fish House in Boulder, CO as well as the season 5 winner of Top Chef.  Dave is the owner of 7 Colorado restaurants under the umbrella name of Big Red F Restaurant Group. Alongside their fabulous creations we will be serving a selection of our wines including, Arcturos Pinot Gris, Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay and our Red House Red.  

Grow Benzie is a community farmstead dedicated to enriching the lives of Benzie County residents by fostering self reliance through education in agriculture, nutrition, job training and life skills.  Their site is a demonstration and training center for sustainable gardening and is a symbol of hope from both our past and our future.  Their focus is on Growing Healthy Children and Communities, bringing people back to their “roots” of self sufficiency and taking care of each other. 

What an honor to support this organization and share our wines with the community involved in this project!

 For more information please contact the Grow Benzie office at [email protected].

Cherry harvest has begun and the National Cherry Festival is underway…this calls for a nice chilled glass of good ol’ cherry wine. It is surprisingly refreshing and it pairs well with a multitude of summer inspired recipes. We love it with BBQ ribs, coleslaw and corn on the cob. It is also lovely when mixed with a bubbly and makes a crisp cherry sparkling cocktail.  Yet another use is in salad dressings and marinades…really the possibilities are endless.

In honor of the annual Cherry Festival we are offering a great discount on our Cherry Wine. Already on sale for $8.50 we are offering an additional 20% savings on this delightful wine making it a mere $6.80 a bottle.

Use this coupon to receive your discount. Don’t delay as the coupon expires July 31st!

julycoupon

Here is a great photo video compiled by photographer, Laura Teeple. The photos were all taken during the Marigold Cork and Fork event in March at the Hearth & Vine. There are plans for another Cork and Fork event in September at TASTES of Black Star Farms. More details will follow…

Thanks Laura and the Marigold crew for the photos and the good time!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9airTfXqd8k[/youtube]

Pure Michigan is previewing their 2010 ad campaign this week.  Part of Fresh was filmed at Black Star Farms.  Can you spot us?

If you’re having trouble finding us, look below for a peek at just how much goes into making a 30 second ad.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn6JptKROF4[/youtube]

Planning your travel itinerary for the season? Let us help you discover why Traverse City should be on your list of places to visit – especially if you are a wine lover and a foodie.  Top five reasons to visit include:

1. Traverse City is number one on Livability.com Foodie Finds: 10 Surprising Food Cities. 

“Known as the Cherry Capital of the World, the Lake Michigan resort town of Traverse City does a pretty good job with other foods too. With plenty of award-winning restaurants, wineries, farmers markets and dairies, Traverse City has been called “a new foodie haven” by The Huffington Post“…read more.

2.  The area was recently named one of the Best Midwest Food Towns by Midwest Living.

“If Disney World had a Foodland, it might look a little like Traverse City, Michigan (population: 142,000). Too-cute-to-be-true storefronts line downtown’s Front Street”…read more.

3.  We have world class award winning wines with Riesling being the most popular variety in the region.

“This complex and cold-hardy German varietal, the stuff of youthful hangovers and wine-geek reverence, has put Michigan winemaking on the map and runs the spectrum from racy and dry to thick and sweet”…read more.

4.   If you are a Michigander or a Midwestner that has never tried our wines you may be pleasantly surprised like former Midwesterner Andrew Putz, Editor in Chief of Boston Magazine.

“The more I heard friends gush about the wine country near Traverse City, Michigan, the more curious I became. So I began to investigate. I’d always thought Michigan too cold to grow grapes, but I learned that this part of the state lies near the 45th parallel, just like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace”…read more.

5. We have chocolate, cherries and plenty of wine – all of which can be sampled in one form or another at our wine trail events throughout the year. You can find a complete listing of events on either the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail or the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trial websites.

There are also art galleries, brew pubs and miles of beaches…What more do you need? For more information about the Traverse City area including lodging and special offers visit the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau.