45 North Winery is located on the 45th parallel north – often called the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole. The winery, which was established in 2007, has a few great ciders that we were able to try (they also have amazing wines). The Citra Cider was one of our favorite hopped ciders. The citra hops added some grapefruit notes to the crisp apple flavor. The Hard Chapple was a nice apple-cherry blend. It was a bit sweet and slightly fizzy. But the apples and cherry flavors melded together nicely and would make for a nice summer sipper. We also enjoyed their “pure” apple ciders Hard Cider and Paul’s Cider. Paul’s Cider, named after the cidermaker, is crisp and bright with clean apple aromas mixed with a few floral notes. While the cider was back sweetened it still was a pleasant semi-sweet sipper.
The boys really enjoyed visiting Black Star Farms. Black Star Farms winery sits next to a 160-acre working farm complete with horse stables. The boys loved seeing the pigs run out at feeding time. We had an opportunity to sample Black Star’s two ciders at the Cider Summit Chicago. The Hard Apple Cider is a semi-dry sparkling cider made from is made from a blend of eight different cider apples. Their Hard Apple Cherry Cider highlights my memories of Michigan cherries. The tart juiciness of the cherries pairs nicely with the crisp apple found in the hard apple cider.
When we told everyone we met that we were on a cider road trip they all asked if we had visitedTandem Ciders. Tandem has a quaint farmhouse tasting room with an English pub feel where it seems all the locals hang out (they stay open until 6pm M-Sa, a little later than the other tasting rooms). All of Tandem’s ciders feel inspired by the owner’s travels in England; a bit complex, a little funky and not too sweet. Some of our favorite ciders were The Crabster as super dry cider made from six apples including wild apples and crabapples and Smackintosh, semi-dry a blend of McIntosh, Rhode Island Greening, and Northern Spy.
We came across Brengman Brothers and Chateau de Leelanau almost by accident. We lost our cell signal and were driving in the general direction we thought we should go when we happened to see signs for both.
We stopped at Chateau de Leelanau first and were pleasantly surprised to see they had several ciders on tap. They had some of the most unique ciders we tasted including a caramel apple cider, which was very reminiscent of drinking a taffy apple, and a root beer cider, which was a unique blend of sarsaparilla and cider.
Brengman Brothers was one of the most impressive wineries that we visited. The grounds were reminiscent of the wineries in Northern California. It almost made us forget about the snow on the ground. Their wines were amazing, some of the best we had on our trip. The food was equally delicious. We had a fantastic smoked salmon. The salmon, which was brined with whiskey, had a slightly peppery smoky flavor that highlighted the meaty salmon flavor. Brengman Brothers also produces ciders and meads that they have on tap. We both really enjoyed their Ginger Cider which had a slight bit of spiciness from the ginger to add complexity to the semi-dry cider.
We all really enjoyed our time in Traverse City. The hospitality, wines and ciders were amazing. We’re looking forward to visiting the city again…in the summer.