Celebrating Michigan Wine Month


Being a native Michigander and avid wine lover, it should come as no surprise that our visits back to my home state  include wine tasting excursions, typically in Northern Michigan around the Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula and Traverse City areas. When we are not able to visit northern Michigan during our visits, we still find a way to enjoy Michigan wine by visiting Michigan By the Bottle, a wine bar dedicated to Michigan wine.

A northern, mid-western state, Michigan’s native varieties are the Concord or Niagara grapes making up around 3 percent of its wines. Similar to North Carolina, perceptions that all the state produces are sweet wines is simply not true. Michigan is producing European, Native-American and French/American Hybrids. Dating back to the mid-19th century, the wine industry has more than doubled in the past 10 years, produces more than 20 varieties of grapes and welcomes approximately 1.7 million visitors per year. Not bad for a state shaped like a mitten!

May is Michigan Wine Month, so we decided to celebrate here in North Carolina by opening up a bottle of Michigan wine we picked up on our last visit home. We will be enjoying, and reviewing, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Aeronautique Winery out of Jackson, Michigan. We picked up this bottle from Michigan by the Bottle and have yet to visit the winery – but are looking forward to planning that during our next visit.  

Most every winery has a story behind it, just as every person has their own, unique story. The story of Chateau Aeronautique began with the passion from international pilot, wine lover and winemaker, Lorenzo Lizarralde, who founded the winery in 2008. Chateau Aeronautique has two locations: the original location in Jackson, and a second, larger location in Irish Hills. The Irish Hills location houses the production facility where wine, cider and beer are produced.

With an extensive wine list to choose from, Chateau Aeronautique produces Bordeaux-style wines made from 100 percent Michigan grapes using French yeast and aged in French oak barrels. We opened a bottle of 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Michigan Wine Competition Gold Medal Winner.

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Upon first opening the bottle of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Aeronautique, we knew we were going to be in for a pleasant treat. From the pop of the cork your nose is introduced to what you expect a Cabernet Sauvignon to smell like. Lately, the Cabernet Sauvignon’s in our neck of the woods have had a lack of that je ne sais quoi, due to its light body and sometimes metallic taste that resides in your mouth. But this wine was extremely fulfilling. It poured a deep, purple hue and instantly we picked up hints of spice and black liquorice. On the mouth, that expectation you want of black cherries, dark plums and a subtle hint of white oak. The balance was there. The tannins you like in a typical cab sat in your mouth and played around in there before slowly fading away. After decanting the wine for an hour, we noticed the wine mellowed and so did the tannins. Everything seemed to round out with this wine, and it’s something we’d go back to again.

If you ever find yourself planning a Pure Michigan vacation, consider adding some wine tasting excursions to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!