Spring Break Cider Road Trip: Part 1

Usually we go to Florida for spring break, but since this El Nino winter was relatively warm we decided to spend a relaxing week in Traverse City and visit several cideries and wineries.

Traverse City is bit over 4 ½ hours from Chicago, so we broke the trip up a bit and started in the Fennville/Grand Rapids Area. We visited 4 cideries including Virtue and Farmhaus Cider Sunday before going “up North” to the Traverse City Area. We drove up the Leelanu peninsula and visited several cideries including 45 North, Black Star Farms Tandam Ciders, Brengman Brothers, and Chateau de Leelanau. In Traverse City proper we visited Left Foot Charley and a new cider bar Taproot. And

Since we visited (and sampled at) so many wonderful ciders we have broken our road trip up into 3 parts. Enjoy reliving the road trip with us.

Fennville/Grand Rapids Areamap

McIntosh Orchards was a great family stop. Since we came a bit early in the seasons they did not have the snack area open so they graciously shared their cheese crackers with our boys.

IMG_3276

The ciders at McIntosh are similar to what we have found at traditional Michigan orchards. The base of the ciders were a semi-sweet smooth apple blend that would be a crowd pleaser.

Since the boys informed us they were “starving” we traveled to Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery for lunch.IMG_3282

With our lunch we were able to enjoy a flight of four ciders. Sean and I were able to mix it up and taste all the ones that were available. All the ciders were enjoyable, but our favorites were the Dry Hopped Hard Cider, Perry and Cherry Cider.

After lunch we drove up the road to Virtue Farms.Virtue, which was launched in 2011 by Gregory Hall, a former Goose Island brewmaster and Steven Schmakel, is very well known in Chicago. One of our favorite restaurants just stated serving one of Virtue’s ciders on tap. They have focused on the production of European-style ciders using natural fermentation of heirloom apples using wild yeast and oak barrel aging.

IMG_3283

Virtue’s tasting room provides a farmhouse feel, complete with the cat (much to the boys’ delight). We were already familiar with Percheron & the Mitten and were excited to try some of their other offerings. Some of our favorites were Prince Hal a Welsh-style barrel-aged cider and Overhiser Orchard Series, which is part of a series dedicated production of cider using apples from a single orchard.

After leaving Virtue we continued our drive north to Farmhaus Cider. Farmhaus in tucked in between several houses on a country road in Hundsonville (outside of Grand Rapids). We thought we took a wrong turn until we saw the cans outside. One of the co-founders, Jon, restored his late grandmother’s abandoned farmhouse to make their home-brewed ciders.IMG_3302

While they were closed they were nice enough to let us into the facilities to see their canning. Our oldest boy is interested in robotics and was fascinated by the canning machinery.

IMG_3287

We were more interested in the rapid rise of Farmhaus and how both Megan and Jon managed to keep their day jobs and the demand for their cider. We first met Megan and Jon at the Cider Summit Chicago (more here) and were impressed by their Trocken Cider (which is also selling fast here) which is a nice dry, light and crisp cider. After sampling a cider that was being canned, we let Megan and Jon finish up their work and we finished up our drive to Traverse City.

Part 2 coming soon…

Did we miss a local cidery? Email us at info@cidersoms.com with any tips, comments or questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *