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Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery
by
Terry Sullivan

Crooked Vine Vineyard and WinerySummary: Located in the Tip of the Mitt AVA, Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery is proving that it is possible to grow grapes along the 45th parallel. Visitors can expect a warm welcome to the tasting room as they learn about the University of Minnesota grapes that were developed for cold climates.

Crooked Vine Vineyard and WineryDriving along Michigan Rt. 68 in Alanson, we easily spotted a sign for Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery. Approaching the vineyard and winery, we quickly observed vineyards, covered with netting protecting the Petite Pearl grapes yet to be harvested in mid-October. Signs of autumn were abundant with trees in the distance showing their colors. Along the entrance to the tasting room, corn husks, pumpkins and chrysanthemums announce the season. We entered the well lit tasting room and approached the wood tasting counter where we met Geoff Frey. Geoff along with his wife, Gail own Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery.

Soon out of college Geoff started working for Gallo, where he caught the wine bug. Careers changed and Geoff retired a few years ago. The Freys wanted to settle in the Tip of the Mitt area after retirement. Starting a vineyard and winery was a logical step for two wine lovers. Geoff studied the cold grape varieties that were developed by the University of Minnesota and decided to plant five of those varieties at the Alanson property. There were a few comments like, “You can’t grow grapes here,” but that did not deter the Freys. Several years after planting, Geoff is making wine from those grapes that thrive in this colder environment.

Crooked Vine Vineyard and WineryVineyards

Planting began in 2012 and has continued over the years. At the time of our visit, the Petite Pearl grapevines, a red wine grape variety, were still netted. They would be waiting for harvest until optimal conditions are met. Also in the vineyard there are plantings of white wine varieties La Crescent and Frontenac Gris, along with red wine grape varieties Frontenac and Marquette. The vineyards consist of five acres. Currently the Freys are producing 1000 cases of wine.

Tasting Room

Crooked Vine Vineyard and WineryWe observed Geoff in action as visitors entered the tasting room. Geoff is very informative during wine tastings and employs gentle education about the grape varieties and the Tip of the Mitt AVA. We asked about the name “Crooked Vine” and Geoff pulled out a bottle of their sparkling wine that was named L’ Arbre Crache meaning “the crooked tree.” Geoff explained that when the French explored the area, they observed trees that appeared crooked. That descriptor remained. Close by the vineyards there is Crooked Lake and the Crooked River. It made sense to use Crooked Vine as a name for the vineyard and winery.

In the tasting room, wine enthusiasts stand along the tasting counter. There is a comfortable seating area next to a window. A shelving unit displays wines opposite the tasting counter. In an alcove there is a table and barrels. This alcove is reminiscent of many of the wine caves we observed in Europe.

Wines

We tasted several wines from the vineyards on the estate. The 2018 Frontenac Gris Tip of the Mitt AVA was a light yellow color. The 12% alcohol wine had 20 g/L of residual sugar. Flowers and pineapple were noted on the aroma and taste. The finish was crisp. Use the wine as an aperitif, or pair with white meats and cheeses.

Crooked Vine Vineyard and WineryThe 2017 Cottage White Tip of the Mitt AVA was a light straw colored wine made with La Crescent. The 12% alcohol wine had 20 g/L of residual sugar. Apple and citrus were noted on the aroma and taste. The wine had a smooth mouthfeel with a hint of mineral on the aftertaste. The wine can be used as an aperitif and paired with apple pie, cheese and spicy dishes.

The 2017 2 Mom’s Blush was named after Gail’s and Geoff’s mothers. This rosé wine was crafted with La Crescent and Frontenac grapes. The wine had a translucent salmon color with 12% alcohol and 25 g/L residual sugar. Red fruits were noticed on the aroma and the taste offered red raspberry with a hint of apples. The finish was crisp.

The 2017 L'Arbre Croche (the Crooked Tree) was a sparkling wine made with La Crescent. Bubbles formed a circumferential mousse on the wine’s surface. Apple and citrus were on the aroma and taste with some mineral on the aftertaste. Serve the wine as an aperitif.

Crooked Vine Vineyard and WineryThe 2018 Marquette G & G Reserve Tip of the Mitt AVA was a translucent ruby color with a pink hue. The G & G refers to Gail and Geoff. The wine was reminiscent of cherries and baking spices. The wine had a medium/full body with medium tannins. The finish was fruity and spicy.

The 2018 Lakeview Red was made with mostly Frontenac with a splash of Chancellor grapes. The translucent ruby colored wine had 7.5 g/L of residual sugar. Cherries and baking spices were on the aroma and taste. The wine had a medium/full body and medium/bold tannins. The finish was fruity and spicy. Pair the wine with grilled foods or sharp cheeses.

Visitors to Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery can expect a laid-back atmosphere, gentle wine and grape education in a relaxing atmosphere.

Crooked Vine Vineyard & Winery
8370 Lakeview Rd.
Alanson, Michigan 49706

GPS: N45º 25.8155’ W84º 46.3461’

Article written October 2019.

 



 

                                  

 
 
   

 


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