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Seasons of the North Winery
by
Kathy and Terry Sullivan

Seasons of the North WinerySummary: Seasons of the North, a family-owned winery, wants to be known for its Michigan-only products. The owners of Seasons of the North produce grape wines, fruit wines and hard ciders. The owners also produce Burt Lake Brewery beer, available in the tasting room. The boutique winery offers customized wine bottle labels.

Upon our arrival at the Seasons of the North winery, we noticed a long patio area enhanced with wine barrels and seasonal decor including fall flowers, pumpkins and cornstalks. The outside of the building is an intriguing mix of brick, stone and cement. Nearby the winery, sits a large wine bottle tree.

Seasons of the North WineryWe enjoyed visiting with Sid VanValkenburg (pictured left) to learn the story of Seasons of the North. As co-owner and winemaker, Sid’s enthusiasm for producing wine was evident. Looking to the future, Sid commented that he would like to have a larger building.

Seasons of the North was started in 2012 by Sid and Rachel VanValkenburg and Rachel’s parents, Mike and Brenda Passino. Prior to that time, Sid and Rachel, made wine for years for their personal use. Eventually, Sid and his father-in-law, Mike Passino took winemaking classes at the North Central Michigan College in Petoskey. Sid began working with Justin Stabil who is the winemaker at Mackinac Trail Winery. Sid also produces the beer.

Today, Sid and Rachel with their parents are producing wine, hard ciders as well as beer under the brand Burt Lake Brewery. Sid is the winemaker and the brewmaster.

Tasting Room

Seasons of the North WineryThe tasting room features an eclectic mix of decor. Just inside the tasting room door is a popcorn machine. The wide U-shaped tasting counter, with stools, is made of polyurethaned honey-colored wood. The tasting counter sits atop several wine barrels. Artwork includes wine related photos as well as flamingo-style dancing. A couple of glass-topped tables provide seating for two. Wine-related gifts are displayed around the room.

Snacks available in the tasting room include: Whiskey Pretzels, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Bavarian Pretzel Sticks, Cheese Platters and Pork Sliders.

Vineyards

The first grapevines were planted six years ago. Mike and Brenda have a 120-acre property in Afton on which six acres are planted with grapevines. Varieties include: the white wine varieties Elvira and Swenson White, a rosé variety Pink Catawba, and red wine varieties Frontenac, Marquette, Petite Pearl and Valiant. Currently the winery also sources grapes from Mackinaw Trail Winery in the Tip of the Mitt region.

Seasons of the North WineryOn the site of the tasting room, there is a demonstration vineyard beyond the winery sign. Grapes planted include: white wine grapes Delaware and Frontenac Gris, and red wine varieties Concord, Marquette and Valiant.

This family-owned winery wants it known that they are “trying to stay local-making everything with local” products.

Wines at Seasons of the North

In 2019, Seasons of the North is producing 2,500 cases. The wine bottles feature an image of the state of Michigan with a single wine glass in the center of the Lower Peninsula and a wine bottle image in the Upper Peninsula. The wine bottle is pouring wine into the glass.

Seasons of the North WineryThe 2017 Lake House Vidal Blanc was 10.5% alcohol. The wine was a light straw color. There was a floral aroma with tropical fruit notes. The taste included notes of roses, daisies, honeysuckle, melon and pineapple. The wine had a floral and fruity aroma with with an earthy aftertaste. The wine was sweet. This wine pairs well with spicy foods or used as an aperitif.

The 2017 Backroads was 11.5% alcohol. The wine was a blend of Niagara, Delaware, Valient and Concord grapes. The wine was a bright translucent red color. The aroma was reminiscent of American native grapes. The taste was tart with red fruits and flowers. The finish was very crisp, cutting the sweetness of the wine. This medium sweet wine is good as an aperitif, especially on a rocking chair.

The 2017 River’s Edge wine had 12.1% alcohol. This wine was produced with Chardonel grapes. The wine was a light yellow color. The aroma and taste were of apple and citrus. The very crispy finish had apple and a hint of daisy on the aftertaste. This dry wine would pair with cheeses and white meats.

The 2018 Burt Lake Breeze produced with Seyval Blanc had 12.4% alcohol. The aroma was of flowers. The taste included notes of daisies, white roses with some apple and pear. The finish was crisp with fruit and mineral. This medium sweet wine can pair with cheeses or used as an aperitif.

While tasting wines and ciders at Seasons of the North, consider enjoying a snack available in the tasting room. For those beer enthusiasts there are also beer tastings.

Seasons of the North Winery
9090 West M-68
Indian River, Michigan 49749

GPS: N45º 24.3754’ W84º 40.2973’

 

Article written October 2019.

 



 

                                  

 
 
   

 


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