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Cogdal Vineyards
Kathy Sullivan

Cogdal VineyardsSummary: Cogdal Vineyards is a boutique, family-owned and operated winery not far from the shores of Lake Michigan. While visiting Cogdal Vineyards, ask for directions to the nearby park at scenic Lake Michigan. Visitors will also want to purchase a bottle of wine and Michigan maple syrup produced from the maple trees on the property.

On our May journey to discover more wineries in Michigan, we arrived at Cogdal Vineyards where a large rustic-style sign announced we were at Cogdal Vineyards, “Home of Little Man Winery.” The outside of the tasting room was decorated with red, white and blue Americana buntings below the windows. Seating was available outside on the patio and soon we discovered tables and chairs were also available inside. Vineyards can be seen from the winery and tasting room building.

Cogdal VineyardsWe enjoyed a visit with Jack Murdoch, the grandson of the original owner of the land who had purchased the property in 1927. As time passed, Jack’s parents lived on the property. Jack and Deb Murdoch are the owners. Jack, also the winemaker, explained that the property once belonged to his grandfather, Harry Cogdal, “The Original Little Man.” Throughout the years, the farm was home to cows, corn, peaches, cherries and asparagus. Even a nursery that included Christmas trees was established. Eventually Jack’s mother and father lived on the property. The back label on wine bottles reads, “Our farm has been providing the Lakeshore with fruit, nursery stock, and now grapes for over 100 years.” The reference to growing grapes refers to the decision on what the family could do with the property to make it sustainable.

While talking with Jack he mentioned that he likes to discuss the “interpretation of the wine” and is happy to talk about wine with everyone. He noted “when people are on vacation they want to do more than taste wines.”

Vineyards and Winemaking

In early May the vines were just beginning to bud. Cogdal VineyardsIn 2008 the Murdochs began planting grapevines. In the vineyards, the Murdochs use sustainable farming techniques. In 2017, the vineyard is planted with eight acres of grapevines that include Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Traminette, Chambourcin and Montepulciano. To protect against the harsh winter temperatures that can occur, vines are buried past the graft. Jack commented on the attributes of the lake affect provided by nearby Lake Michigan. On winemaking, Jack stated that it is easy to make wine until something deviates from the norm. He noted that a rainy season can provide such a deviation.

In early May the vines were just beginning to bud.The tasting room was built in July 2014. The winemaking area is located behind the tasting room. The tasting room offers a tasting counter made with cherry and/or maple wood sourced from the farm property. The tasting room walls are decorated with wine-related decor including framed photos of the wine labels. Pure maple syrup, produced from the maple trees on the farm property, is available for purchase. A nearby neighbor processes the sap into syrup for the winery.

Cogdal is producing two lines of wines. The single varietal wines are named Cogdal. The Little Man wines are blends. These were named for his grandfather, Harry Frank Cogdal, who was 5’2” (a Little Man).


Dry Riesling 2016 was a light yellow color. The wine offered notes of mineral, citrus and floral. The taste included notes of citrus and yellow stone fruit. The finish was crisp with a bit of mineral. Pairing suggestions include Asian dishes, Mexican dishes, fish and chicken. Semi-Sweet Riesling 2015 had15g/l residual sugar. The wine was a light yellow color. The wine offered apple notes and mineral on the aftertaste.

In early May the vines were just beginning to bud.Charlie’s Choice was produced with a blend of Traminette, Vidal and Vignoles. The wine was dry with notes of yellow stone fruit including peach pits and citrus. The wine finish had notes of mineral. The taste reminded one of sweet and sour dishes. Pairing suggestions included Asian dishes, Tha dishes,i fish and seafood.

Big Lake 2016 was a blend of Marquette, Cabernet Franc, Chancellor, and Marechal Foch. This wine was a translucent ruby color. There was an aroma of cherry. The wine was medium-bodied with bold chewy tannins. The finish had fruit yielding to spices. Cogdal Vineyards suggests pairing this wine with pizza, BBQ and stews. Vision was a blend of Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, Marechal Foch, Merlot and a bit of Syrah. This ruby colored wine offered notes of dark fruits including cherries, black caps and spices. The wine was full-bodied with bold tannins. Pair this wine with salmon, turkey, pork and beef. Cabernet Franc 2016 was a translucent red color with an aroma of spices including pepper. The taste was dry with notes of pepper, cherry and and the wine had bold tannins. The wine lingered on the finish. Pairing suggestions included pasta, cheeseburger and steak.

Visitors will enjoy the warm, friendly atmosphere while tasting the Cogdal Vineyards’s red and white wines. Take time to also browse the gift items and perhaps include a bottle of the pure maple syrup. Be sure to ask for directions to the nearby park at Lake Michigan.

Cogdal Vineyards
7143 107th Ave
South Haven MI 49090

GPS: N42º 28.4766’ W86º 14.4292’


Article written June 2017







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