Terroir: What Makes the Wine of Old Mission Peninsula Unique?

Posted August 14, 2018 in

What Makes Old Mission Peninsula Wine Unique?

When it comes to understanding a world-class winemaking region like northern Michigan, it’s easy to focus on the grapes. They’re the star of the show, right? The grapes are what eventually become the wine that we love to smell, taste and consider. But the terroir ‒ the soil, topography and climate ‒ is the key to a vineyard’s memorable harvest. Terroir is the French word describing the land and “sense of place” found in your wine glass, and it’s the great influencer of the grapes that eventually become wine. The terroir of Old Mission Peninsula is what makes Chateau Grand Traverse wine, and the wine of the region, so undeniably unique.

On Old Mission Peninsula, we’re located halfway between the equator and the North Pole on the 45th parallel. Nestled between east and west Grand Traverse Bay, grapes can thrive within the microclimate created by Lake Michigan. They taste different, and the finished product is clearly influenced by its surroundings. The lakes keep the fall harvest season warm and the spring growing season cool. This leads to crisp whites and acidic reds that have character unlike those from a California harvest. You can taste the profile of the peninsula in your glass.

No matter where grapes are grown, winemakers spend years perfecting the characteristics and flavor brought out by the soil, slope and drainage of a vineyard. A Riesling could be made on a small plot of their land, and just a few hundred feet away, a sauvignon blanc could flourish thanks to the specific location where the grapes were planted. The terroir of Old Mission Peninsula, a narrow strip of land projecting out between the bays, provides winemakers with a canvas on which they can create world-class varietals.

In addition to the warm harvest and cool growing seasons, the terroir of Chateau Grand Traverse presents opportunities for ice wine. A challenge for winemakers to produce, our ice wine is a dessert wine made from Riesling grapes left on the vine until frozen. They must be harvested early in the morning or late at night in below-freezing temperatures. Ice wine is a perfect example of how we can utilize this special land to produce a constant flow of delicious wines.

Chateau Grand Traverse was one of the first wineries in northern Michigan, and we love living here just as much as the grapes do. Stop by our tasting room to talk about the history of our vineyard, sample our current offerings and take a bottle ‒ a little piece of Old Mission Peninsula ‒ home with you.

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