By Amanda Renkiewicz / Photos by Kennedy Grace
The setting is everything that an antiquated schoolhouse should be. Giant trees shade the white building that sits upon a slight hill by the road. Accented with a red roof, red trim, and a steeple with a bell, one can imagine laughing children running up to the former Maple Grove Schoolhouse for their one room classes on a crisp fall day. Today, the school provides education of a different sort: oenology.
“I will only drink good wine,” the written lines on the chalkboard declares. The tasting space hosts a large bar in the center where teachers, I mean, wine hosts, provide a history of the winery and a generous tasting list. This is Peninsula Cellars, a unique and entirely Peninsula made winery. Owned by sixth-generation farmer John Kroupa, the family-run business has become a way of life and an acclaimed spot for visitors and tourists alike.
Following a minimalist philosophy towards wine making, Peninsula Cellars allows the regional expression of the fruit to come through. The sun, the rain, the wind, and the soil, all under the watchful eye of the grower, are what make their wines so exceptional. Many of the vines are grown on the very same land where the first Kroupa family settled, nearly 118 years ago. The 2017 Manigold Gewurztraminer is their driest white wine, and has a floral bouquet, as well as a surprising spiciness. The Kroupa Orchards Apple wine is impossible not to love, especially as the fall weather arrives. While not all wineries in Michigan have been able to produce satisfactory reds due to the climate, Peninsula Cellars has it down to a science with the 2017 Cabernet Franc Merlot Reserve. The deep red wine carries aromas of violets, dried blueberries, and cedar combined with the rich flavors of blackberries, dark chocolate, and coffee.
Along with the high scoring wines are seasonal and special offerings. Their semi dry hard cider, with rotating flavors, is made in the Old English style from apples grown on their centennial farm. A sangria is always available, and the current recipe is the “Cheers to Cherries”, with their Hot Rod Cherry wine, orange slices, lime, strawberries, and ginger ale soda. Newly released is Montage, an apple dessert wine aged in bourbon barrels, and fortified with apple brandy. The delicious wine is smooth, warm, and has hints of vanilla and caramel. A non-alcoholic old fashioned root beer is also available for tasting.
Their wine bottle labels provide a laugh and a lesson in how to live life with a smile. With names like Detention, Homework, and Pop Quiz, the wines are a perfect gift for the teachers in one’s life. The Kroupa family’s love and devotion to Old Mission Peninsula is demonstrated in their saying of “Peninsula Proud”, which doesn’t simply mean you are proud to be from Old Mission. “It means you are proud of your traditions, your hard work, and your history,” they explain. Their singular tasting room, esteemed wines, and illustrious history earns Peninsula Cellars a straight A report card!
Tasting Room Hours:
April – October: Daily 10 AM-6 PM
November – March: Daily 10 AM-5 PM
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