6 Wines to Try at Detroit’s First Winery in Half a Century
When we think about wine destinations, what often comes to mind?
But what about Detroit?
Winemaker Black Kownacki wants to see Detroit become a wine destination. In 2014, he and his business partner launched Detroit Vineyards, and set out to use some of the city’s available land to plant vineyards and produce wine. Detroit Vineyards has become the first winery to operate in the city in 60 years!
But let’s take a step back – it’s not really far-fetched that Detroit would be a place for wine production, because it has a long history that dates back to the 17th century. According to the Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council, winemaking was first noted in 1679 when French explorers made wine from grapes that grew along the Detroit River. In 1702, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac established a vineyard in Detroit, one of the first in North America.
Detroit Vineyards recently opened a tasting room in the former Stroh’s Ice Cream factory near Eastern Market. I attended the first day of their grand opening. There’s a Prohibition-type of vibe, with remnants of factory material like pumps and tanks mixed in with Great Gatsby chic. Here’s a peek inside:
Detroit Vineyards offers 19 different drinks, including white, red, and rosé wines; mead and cider. Everything is made 100 percent in-house, and most of the grapes come from southwest Michigan and the Lake Michigan Shore. Because of the Michigan climate, Riesling and Chardonnay grapes really thrive here. Both are on the menu. I did a tasting of the wines prior to the grand opening, and again on the first day of the grand opening. Here are 6 wines to try when you visit the tasting room:
1. 2018 Traminette – Traminette is a French-American hybrid grape that is well suited for Michigan winters. I’ve never had this type of white before, which was semi-sweet with floral aromas and a balance of sweetness and acidity on the palate.
2. 2017 Pinot Noir – Pinot Noir is one of my favorite reds. This is a lighter version than what I usually drink. It’s medium-bodied, dry and fragrant with notes of dried cherries and rhubarb, and dried strawberries and vanilla on the palate.
3. 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – This is a bolder, full-bodied red with aromas of red cherries and black raspberries along with hints of vanilla and subtle oak.
4. 2018 Merlot Rosé – This is going to become one of my new favorite rosés. It’s semi-dry and fruity with intense tart cherry and strawberry aromas.
5. 2018 Semi-Dry Riesling – Detroit Vineyards has two types of Rieslings, but I really enjoyed this one. I’ve primarily been drinking red wines over the last few years, so I was happy to find a white that I liked. The aroma gives me a tropical feel, as it has notes of pineapple, guava, and banana. On the palate is citrus fruits – lemons and limes – with lingering peach.
6. 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay – Detroit Vineyards also offers two types of Chardonnays, this one being my other favorite. I’ve never found a Chardonnay that I was crazy about, so I was happy about this one. Probably because it’s similar to the 2018 Semi-Dry Riesling, haha! The difference with this one is that instead of guava on the nose, it’s kiwi, and instead of peach, there is a green apple finish.
A glass of wine ranges from $6 to $12, and a bottle is between $25 and $40.
Do you plan on visiting Detroit Vineyards? If you’ve had a chance to go, let me know what you think in the comments!