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Brewvine: Verterra Winery

For in Leelanau County, fall means more than just pretty trees and cooler weather.

In this week’s Brewvine – Whitney Amann and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson take you to their vineyard and event space “Verterra at the Ridge”, to see how this year’s grape harvest is shaping up.

“It’s the most exciting time of the year with harvest because literally all your patience, hard work and effort for the last seven to eight months now comes true,” said owner Paul Hamelin.

In the coming weeks, in Leelanau County will be gathering their grapes and they hope those clusters will yield more award winning fruit.

“Our 2018 chardonnay won in the 35th annual Michigan Wine Competition,” he said. “The judges voted this the best chardonnay in the state and those grapes right there and we’re very, very fortunate in that 35th annual Michigan Wine Competition, because our pinot blanc won best dry white wine in the state of Michigan, and those grapes are here on this site as well.”

It’s not just the white varieties that does well, in fact they are one of the two vineyards that are growing a heavy bodied red for Northern Michigan called malbec.

“We don’t get that sort of heavy deep reds that some people come to associate with California or Australia or even Argentina or Chile where they have an abundance of summer and heat and they can basically get those grapes as ripe as they want to almost to the point where their raisins if they wanted to, but in our climate we can’t quite get them raisin like, but we can get them ripe enough to make some really gorgeous wines,” said Hamelin.

With a good growing season so far, they are excited for a quality harvest this year.

“So now it all boils down to the fall and the last few weeks well we’re trying to get each of these grapes as ripe as they can get,” he said. “The sun is out and everything is drying up and weather forecast that I’m looking at right now if that happens, Northern Michigan is going to have a fantastic wine harvest season, and we’re going to have a lot of spectacular wines for people to taste in the next few years.”