By Amanda Renkiewicz / Feature Photo by Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail
If you’re thinking you’ll have to move to Florida just to remember what being warm feels like, you certainly aren’t alone. The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail is attuned to everyone’s winter blues and brought a glimmer of heat during a winter wonderland on a fantastic weekend in January. Over twenty wineries participated in the signature event Sips and Soups, where participants experienced the beauty of local wineries covered in a glistening blanket of snow, while sipping savory soups paired with delectable Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Chardonnays, and more. From mushroom brie soup, a spicy shrimp bisque, and beef stew with mulled wine, every pairing brought delectable warmth and a hearty feeling that perhaps winter isn’t so bad, after all.
With two days designated to the event, the adventure ran Saturday 11 am-5 pm and Sunday 12 pm-5 pm. Our first spot was our pickup location, where we were given souvenir wine glasses and tickets to have marked at each subsequent stop. Chateau Fontaine of Lake Leelanau was serving a local’s favorite, Art’s Tavern Green Chili Chicken Soup, paired with a choice of Semi-Sweet Riesling or Pinot Gris. They set the stage for a weekend of pure deliciousness, and the drink options were excellent and gave visitors a choice in their wine sweetness level. The wineries were rarely busy since Sips and Soups is an off-season event, which made our ability to reach more of them easy. It also allowed us to partake in the additional, complementary tastes that were offered at the bar once we finished our pairing.
Stand out locations included Laurentide Winery with their Jalapeño Popper Soup paired with Emergence White 2017. The soup was creamy and thick with a wonderful kick of spice that was just enough. Their signature, double gold winning Emergence White wine was also used for their Fall in Friday’s event’s Savory Sweet Potato Soup with Maple Pecan Crumbles, demonstrating its brilliance in cooking as well as drinking. Amoritas Vineyards featured a wonderful classic of Lylah’s Tomato Bisque with croutons paired with 2016 Chardonnay, an intensely flavored unoaked wine that had a mineral finish. Rove Estate served sizable portions of a Chicken, Lemon, and Rice Soup from Uptown Catering/Opa’s that they paired with their 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay, a wine aged in stainless steel and showcasing bright melon and yellow apple notes leading into a delicate lime zest finish. Black Star Farms again proved its unstoppable ability to provide exceptional cuisine (they haven’t gone wrong once!) with a Cider Cheese Soup, loaded with house cured maple bacon and jalapeño crème. It was paired with their 2018 Arcturos Dry Riesling, an aromatic white full of flavor. Silver Leaf Vineyard & Winery was another winner, with a homemade Italian Wedding Soup matched with a crisp and remarkable 2016 Pinot Gris. For our additional taste there, we started with a wildly luscious, fruit-filled sangria that made us hopeful for summer! It was so exceptional that we had it for our second taste too (“Hit me again!”), and picked up a howler of it to take home.
Sips and Soups is one of the top events of the year with its appetizing food and always amazing Leelanau Peninsula wine. While certainly popular, the crowds were small to nonexistent, giving participants time to learn more about the winery and their varietals. It was common to be served by the winery owners themselves, adding a personal touch that was truly special. The charming combination of sipping wine with steaming hot soup on a snowy January day was an endearing reminder that winter in Northern Michigan is incredibly enchanting, if you just know where to look.
There are many more events coming up, please visit https://www.lpwines.com/ for more information.