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Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and Winery
Kathy Sullivan

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WinerySummary: Pond Hill Farm is a destination site which has 230 acres. The site offers relaxation, fun and games for adults and children. Adults will enjoy tasting wines and beers; children have fun playing games and everyone will enjoy walking trails around the property. A farm market is also available onsite. Pond Hill Farm is open seven days a week.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WineryPond Hill Farm began well before adding the vineyards to the property. After arriving at Pond Hill Farm, in Petoskey, Michigan, we quickly met Jimmy Spencer (pictured left) who recounted that he had worked on a farm since he was five years old. His family moved to the abandoned farm property in 1980. The family tried establishing a vegetable garden and they were not successful for a variety of reasons including pests and deer problems. However, they were “bit by the bug” of growing things. They started a roadside stand selling eggs.The proximity to Lake Michigan provides good airflow which helps with vegetables, fruits and grapevines.

While Jimmy was growing up, his mother, Sharon, made wine out of a variety of things including dandelions and sumac. Today Sharon’s focus is on the canning of products available in the market.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WineryPond Hill Farm is a destination site with a focus on adults and children. The farm offers games for children including pumpkin bowling and apple baseball. Tickets can be purchased for the different activities. Pumpkin bowling takes place on the vineyard covered hill. A path leads up past grapevines where visitors will find a selection of medium-sized pumpkins. A string line establishes the starting point. Large barrels are scattered on the downside of the hill. Children and adults stand behind the line and try to toss/roll a pumpkin into the barrel. On the day of our October visit, Jimmy demonstrated rolling a pumpkin down the hill and into a barrel. We followed and were also successful rolling a pumpkin into a barrel, although it may not have been the first barrel we were aiming for.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WineryThe Pond Hill Farm market offers fresh vegetables and hundreds of canned goods for sale. Forty-five different products are available and 30,000 jars of food are canned each year. A dedicated kitchen, supervised by Sharon, cans many different foods including: salsa, strawberry jam, raspberry jam, cranberry sauce, dill pickles, brandied sweet cherries, rhubarb chutney, dilly beans, basil marinara and more.


Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WineryA few years ago, someone suggested to Jimmy that the farm should add a winery to the property. Eventually Jimmy, his wife, Marci, and Sharon partnered with Jim and Kim Palmer. They decided to clear a knoll and plant vineyards. Today the vineyards consist of five and a half acres planted with Marquette, Vignoles, Brianna, Summerset Seedless, La Crescent, Osceola Muscat, St. Pepin and St. Croix.

The vineyards are in two locations. One on a hillside overlooking Lake Michigan in the distance. The other vineyard is on a flat area. They applied for a winery license in 2010.

Estate Wine Tasting

We tasted several Pond Hill Farms estate wines while talking with Jimmy. We discovered Jimmy has a passion for building. Using wood from the property and milling it, Jimmy built the wine tasting room and the adjacent restaurant using wood from the property.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WineryJimmy commented that the winery is “approachable for people to come. People from all walks of life feel welcome.”

In 2019 eight of Pond Hill wines are produced from estate grown grapes. Grapes for other wines are sourced from the Leelanau Peninsula.

Pond Hill White 2018 was a blend of La Crescent, Riesling, Vignoles and St. Pepin. The wine had a residual sugar of 30 g/L. This wine was a light yellow color with an aroma of flowers, spice and citrus. The mouthfeel was smooth with notes of mineral, grapefruit, daisies and roses. The finish was crisp.

The Rosé 2018 had 25 g/L of residual sugar. This was a blend of Osceola Muscat, Vignoles, La Crescent and a bit of Marquette for color. The blend was a light salmon color. The aroma was floral with a very smooth mouthfeel. The wine had notes of daisies and roses. The finish was crisp.

The Pond Hill Red 2018 had 12% alcohol. This wine was a blend of Marquette and St. Croix. Oak staves were used to add oak influences to this wine. The wine was a translucent red color. The aroma had notes of red berry fruits and oak. The very smooth taste was of red raspberries, blackberries and a bit of leather. The medium-bodied wine offered mild tannins. The finish was fruity with a bit of oak.

The Cottage Red 2017 had 13% alcohol. This wine was made with Marquette grapes and a touch of Marechal Foch. The wine was a translucent dark red color with a dark pink hue. The winemaking process included 18 months aging in Hungarian oak. The aroma included notes of leather and dark fruit. The taste offered cassis, blackberries, leather and baking spices. The wine was medium-full bodied with medium tannins. The finish included leather and fruit and had a long aftertaste.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and WineryThe School House Red 2017, with 13% alcohol, was produced with Marquette grapes. The wine was aged with bourbon barrel chips. The translucent ruby colored wine with a dark pink hue had 30 g/L of residual sugar. The wine offered an aroma of dark fruits. The medium-bodied wine had a smooth mouthfeel with mild/medium tannins. The taste was mildly sweet. The finish was fruity.

Regatta 2017 was produced with 100% Marquette grapes. The wine, aged in French American oak, had 13% alcohol. The wine was a translucent red color with a dark pink hue. The aroma was of dark fruits. The wine was medium bodied with medium tannins. The taste included notes of cassis, baking spices and leather. The finish had fruit, leather and spices.

Northern Light Sparkler produced with 100% Brianna and peach extract had 12% alcohol. The residual sugar was 40 g/L. The aroma included fruit and flowers. The wine was palate cleansing with notes of white roses and peaches. This was a delicious wine.

The 2017 Sweet Summertime wine was a dessert wine with 10% alcohol. The wine had 60 g/L of residual sugar. The wine was a light straw color with notes of flowers and some yellow stone fruit. This is a wine to enjoy in a rocking chair on the porch.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards and Winery has a lot to offer wine enthusiasts and their families throughout the year. Plan to spend some time at the farm.

Pond Hill Farm Vineyards & Winery
5699 S Lake Shore Dr.
Harbor Springs, Michigan 49740

GPS: N45º 28.3663 W85º 03.3584

Article written October 2019.







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