Taking Booklets to the Vineyards
It was an ordinary Friday – some writing, a few errands and a bit of volunteering – nothing too challenging or exceptionally interesting. But the sun came out, the temperature was headed for 63, and the afternoon had the promise of a perfect Up North Spring Day.
Ann was painting at The Barns with her Plein Air group, part of a workshop to refresh and hone everyone’s outdoor skills before starting their weekly open air painting excursions. I dropped her off, then took the back road to the kitchen that makes the dips for one of our vineyards, doubled back to Crooked Tree Art Center to pick up boxes of the Art & Craft Trail Guide, my volunteer effort for the day, and over to Cherry Capital Foods to get the artisan crackers for the vineyard. Less than 10 miles for all of it, but a fun jaunt.
Back home I organized the brochures for the day’s deliveries on Old Mission Peninsula, answered my email, jumped back in the car for my route. First stop was Peninsula Cellars, in an old school house, with cherry orchards blooming all around. With the blue sky, the white blossoms and the red-roofed Tasting Room, the contrasts were stunning.
Adding the ballads
I paused before taking in their brochures to look around the immediate countryside. A moment for friendly chatter while I delivered the brochures, and I was back on the road. John Denver’s Greatest Hits was in the CD player, so I turned it on. It was the ideal mix for my afternoon activities.
Up to Brys Estates Winery. As I turned east on Blue Water Highway, the cherry blossoms against the brilliant blue of East Bay made my breath stop. I paused at the crest of the hill and stared. Gawked actually. Regaining my composure, I walked into their tasting room for more chit-chat and saw the observation deck right outside, with the same views I had just inhaled. Funny, I hadn’t noticed that deck before. Their secret garden, full of lavender, wasn’t open yet, but that will be worth a trip in July.
Next stop Chateau Chantal, beautiful grounds, architecture and infinite views east and west over both Bays. More talk while dropping off, then back out to wind down their drive to the road. This year the “Blessing of the Blossoms” took place here, a ritual that began in 1910 to pray for a good cherry crop and became the beginnings of the National Cherry Festival. It continues as a non-denominational service open to all, recognizing the importance of sweet and tart cherries to Up North. Of course, it wouldn’t be Old Mission Peninsula without wine involved, so there is a Blossom Days vineyard tour, with tastings of traditional offerings and unreleased wines.
The Beauty in Front of Me
That’s when it really hit me – the incredible beauty, variety, atmosphere and aura of everything around me. At the moment, I wasn’t really thinking of it as anyplace special – I drive these roads frequently, and as with most things experienced frequently, one stops seeing the details of what is right around him.
But the whole experience overwhelmed me and said “look at me, can you imagine a more perfect view, a more perfect setting, or a more perfect time?” I stopped before continuing my journey south down Old Mission Peninsula and simply gazed at the cherry blossoms, the water and the sky. I smelled the intense perfume that you only get from Big Fresh Water, while it is still cold from the winter.
On to Bowers Harbor Vineyards, always special for us. It’s small, family-run, with a boutique feel – very intimate and very familiar. More brochures, but BHV was also my stop for the dips and crackers, so I spent a little extra time talking with friends there, how things were ramping up with the Spring weather, how it looked for the grapes this year; I met a new associate for the tasting room – all ordinary but special acts. And once again I saw a view that blasted me with beauty – looking out over Bowers Harbor, with a few boats already in the small marina.
Around the corner, I made a quick stop at Tinker Studio, a fun venue with equally fun art by Mary Kay and Elizabeth Burpee, took a minute for a quick catch-up on what they were up to, then back out to the main road for my last stop. Chateau Grand Traverse is the one that started it all up here – the Grand Daddy – and proved that not only could you grow grapes on Old Mission Peninsula, but with some time and experience you could grow excellent grapes and make superb wine. Even Food & Wine’s Andrew Putz had to come out to see for himself and he gave Old Mission rather high marks for its quality wines.
Even though my visit came early in the day and early in the season, I had to wait for a couple of vineyard-touring groups to check out before my final conversation of the afternoon. After catching up on their early season news and status of the grapes, I pulled out of the drive and immediately stopped at the Scenic Turn Out at the crest of the road. West Bay and East Bay jumped at me in full glory, colors from the Caribbean, but the pure blue of the Great Lakes.
I might have stayed longer, but it was time to retrieve Ann from The Barns for an evening art show. I kept a comfortable pace back down, no one behind me to be impatient, and let myself mellow during the last of my jaunt, my trek, my adventure, all in a less than twenty mile excursion.
It’s easy to stop seeing what you have.
Take time to look around.
© Rod Robinson