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A Suprising and Incredibly Local Wine Experience

June 27, 2013

Having just moved back from Northern California one has some preconceived notions about wine from other regions. For the past two days I’ve had the pleasure of training for Farmhouse Evanston, the second restaurant that a unique group of investors has decided to open. Tucked away nine floors above the restaurant in a board room housed by the Hotel Orrington the new staff and myself have had an incredible array of craft beer brewers, farmers, and local wine producers come through in order to provide us with intimate product knowledge. Not to be forgotten, some excellent distributors made appearances as well. By and large the biggest surprise to me was the unbelievable quality of the wine one can buy just hours from, and in some cases minutes, from Chicago.

This clip is from a Trib local segment I found on youtube features Michael Faltz of the Fox Valley Winery. He has some great insight and tips for making your wine last. The Winery is located in Oswego, Illinois and they also have a tasting room and coffee shop in Sandwich, Illinois. They will be providing barreled wine poured by draft and many other selections at the new location. I actually found that these wines had a more earthy, intense taste than what I had been used to sampling out West, and it really is interesting to taste how the different climate and soil interacts with the vines and their flavor profiles. The grapes all come from Illinois and Southwest Michigan and they owners seem like really good people who are doing what they love.

The Michigan wines were probably the biggest surprise of all, most notable the ice wine that was brought by Kelly from Fresh Coast Distributors. She explained how Michigan, and Chicago for that matter, are located at the same parallel of our globe as some of the most famous wine-producing regions in the world. The 42nd to the 45th parallels to be exact. Michigan’s soils have completely different mineral components than those out West and are lucky to be conveniently located on the good side of Lake Michigan. This allows for a milder, longer fall, as well as a ton of lake effect snow that we don’t get over here on the West side of the lake. All of that snow is nature’s insulator, and it actually serves as a protective barrier for the vine’s root crowns from the cold.

The picture below is the Domaine Berrien Cellars 2010 Cab Franc Ice Wine. I had never tried this type of spirit and it is literally something that anyone into food would do back flips over. It smells of a sweet, vanilla grape juice and it’s hard to believe that it contains alcohol. By that I mean that it is beyond smooth, and would go great with any desert, I was thinking about buying some to have with some goat cheese while drinking it. This is expensive, but there’s a reason for that. The grapes have to be frozen rather quickly down to fifteen degrees fahrenheit, than it’s a mad dash to get them off the vine, keep them completely frozen and then press them at that temperature. This process prevents most of the water from entering the fermentation process and seriously diminishes the overall volume that is obtained.  It reminds me more of an extract than a beverage. I almost wish I never knew about this, I’m budgeting a bottle a month into my future plans!

Drink this and feel spoiled

Drink this and feel spoiled

For more information on some of the great people I’ve had a chance to be exposed to this week please look below as I’ve listed all of their contact info. Knowledge is the key to sales, and they have it. Their love of the products they sell is contagious and I’m already looking at fall trips over to the Traverse City, MI area to achieve full exposure to what’s out there. Enjoy!

Farmhouse:    Evanston location:  703 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois 60201 located on the South side of the Hotel Orrington

Fox Valley Winery:  5600 Route34, Oswego, Illinois 60543  or 207 E. Church Street, Sandwich, Illinois 60548

Fresh Coast Distributors:

H2 Vino:

Hickory Creek Winery:  750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, MI 49101

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