Founded by Traverse City natives Sam Porter and Abby Walton Porter, Porterhouse Productions operates several festivals and special events in the northern Michigan region. The company has run the annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival, an Evening with Mario Batali, and other recreational events, from concerts to culinary events.
St. Julian is Michigan’s oldest, largest and most awarded winery. This family-owned winery, founded by Mariano Meconi in 1921, is nestled in the picturesque fruit-growing region along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Today, grandson, David Braganini, has adopted the family tradition of wine making.
Appreciation begins with understanding. PRP Wine International helps its clients become true connoisseurs by introducing them to the culture surrounding fine wines from around the world. Private and public tasting events allow guests to learn more about artisanal fermentation from the company's impassioned consultants. They pour small samples of wine from around the world while explaining each wine's general characteristics or more nuanced traits. In addition to laying a foundation that helps visitors appreciate the process of tasting new varietals, the consultants also explain how to properly pair wine with food or scratch-and-sniff stickers.
Low-stress education remains a priority at PRP Wine International, but the company also boasts a curated selection of wines from Germany, France, and Italy, as well as an assortment of bottles and glassware that customers can order with custom etching.
Casks of award-winning vintages tempt guests at Bowers Harbor Vineyards, which earned Best of Class for its 2007 Cabernet Franc at the 2010 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, among multiple other awards and pleasantly slurred compliments. Surrounded by verdant hills near the lapping tongue of Lake Michigan, Proprietor Spencer Stegenga oversees the harvest, fermentation, and self-defense training of a delicious range of reds, whites, and sparkling wines, as well as hard cider. Visiting sippers can silence their thirstily jabbering tongues with Bowers’ signature reds—the 2896 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, touched with a bit of cabernet sauvignon, or the Meritage blend, whose soft tannins create a smoothly quaffable mouthful. Or try the 2009 Rosé, redolent with the flavors of flowers, berries, and wine.
After respective careers as a research scientist and an educator, Larry and Pam Satek were ready to settle into retirement. They anticipated relaxing on the plot of land purchased by Pam's great-grandfather in 1915—a verdant space that had matured from an apple orchard into an overgrown tangle, and which the Sateks turned into a commercial vineyard where other Indiana wineries bought their grapes. Now that they had escaped the daily grind, the Sateks' plan was to begin crafting their own wine. They did so with well-recognized aplomb, and soon, their "retirement business" was winning awards at the INDY International Wine Competition. In the past three years, almost 80% of their wines have medaled—the 2012 contest alone landed them 23 awards, including two Concordance Golds, which signify a unanimous decision by the judges. Their success is hardly surprising, though, if one looks at the descriptions of their wines. They deem their Old Vine red zinfandel "a searing of lightning and poetry," and liken the sweet Mango Mania to "sunshine in your glass."
The Sateks remain continually tapped into the community in an effort to share these wines, many of which are made from exclusively locally grown fruit. Their Twitter feed and Facebook page keep fans posted regarding new releases and suddenly sold-out varieties, and those hoping for a closer look can take a tour of the vineyard and bottling facilities. Additionally, special events such as dinners and pairing classes teach visitors how to expertly marry sips to bites without disappointing both of their families.
The strumming of an acoustic guitar lets you know you’ve found The Northville Winery’s outdoor patio. Live bands regularly serenade guests enjoying the patio’s view while sipping on the winery’s selection of wine and hard cider, as well as beer brought in from Michigan microbreweries. Guests can get a taste of the house’s signature vintages in preselected tastings, which bring together a flight of five wine and cider samples. The tastings can include pours from Northville's bottled vintages or the tasting room’s special menu of ciders, which only flow from the winery's taps and the cider fountain at the owner's home.