I have always been interested in wine going back to when I was a young child fascinated with the smell that emanated from my parents’ old fiascos of Chianti that adorned their fireplace mantle. There was a smell similar to that of my grandfather’s homemade Alfonzo olives in the small dribble of red residue left in the bottom of the bottle. Later, I would experience Christian Brothers Burgundy at a family Thanksgiving. Though the smell was absolutely amazing, when my grandfather let me taste it, the dry fruity liquid seemed undrinkably sour to my then tender palate.
Fast forward to U of M where I worked for Dick Scheer at the Village Corner from 1971-1973. I tasted the most unbelievable wine I could possibly imagine. It was a 1955 Federico Paternina Rioja Gran Reserva. That experience changed my life and put me on a life-long wine career.
Doug Welsch from Fenn Valley Vineyards gave me some cuttings of Seyval that I planted along our driveway about 1980. They grew like weeds and by 1983 I made my first wine ruining my wife Alice’s Cuisinart food processor in the process.
A couple of years later, Lew Carlson, a history professor from Western Michigan University, introduced me to his home made/home grown red wines from Lawton Ridge Vineyard. He offered to sell me enough Leon Millot grapes to fill a barrel of wine. I took the bait and accepted the challenge making my first barrel of really good red wine. There was no turning back.
For a couple of years in the mid nineties, my good friend Marshall Geasler and I made wine for a Fenn Valley tasting room in Rockford Michigan. We made the Rogue River label for the wines sold in the tasting room and the Michigan Vintner label for wines that we sold to restaurants and party stores. These were the most enjoyable years of my working life.
So, having retired from a sales position at Great Lakes Wine and Spirits (formerly known as Viviano Wine Importers) in August of 2016, I planned to make wine commercially again. A series of fortuitous circumstances led me to team up with Trevor Wassink, blueberry farmer and budding new winery owner at Tanglewood Winery. Trevor has the technical expertise (Degrees in Oenology and Chemistry) while I have 45 years of fine wine appreciation with hands on artisanal wine making experience.
Tanglewood Blue Silk Blueberry and Blue Blood Port wines are in the market now (see “Look for Michigan Vintner wines in Fall of 2017” and “Tanglewood Winery”) while the Michigan Vintner dry red table wines are still about six months away. Please stay tuned!
NOUN fermented juice of fresh grapes, used as a beverage
ORIGIN Middle English, from Old English, pre-12th century; from Latin, ‘vinum'; akin to Greek 'oinos'.