Fine Dining Restaurants

Michigan Wine Grape Acreage Growth and the Grand Rapids Wine Festival!

Pour-Over by TerryJohnston
Pour-Over by TerryJohnston

Our winner is Kimberly W. who writes she’s excited to check out Six-One-Six restaurant. Their festival menu looks delicious: Braised Devries Pork Shoulder with Butternut-Chipotle Crema, Salsa Verde, Micro Cilantro and Lime! Six-One-Six is a special favorite of of Absolute Michigan as in addition to their delicious offerings, they have a focus on locally sourcing food & drink!

Before we get to the great news on Michigan’s wine industry, we’d like to give you a chance to meet a lot of the industry leaders with a pair of tickets to the Grand Rapids Wine, Beer & Food Festival good for either Friday or Saturday!

The festival takes place November 8-10 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids and is not to be missed! It brings together dozens of Michigan wineries, breweries, cideries and restaurants along with wine & food distributors from around the nation and world and a host of acclaimed food & wine experts offering tasting & seminars to create one of Michigan’s best culinary experiences. Click the link or watch the video below for more!

To enter, all you have to do is send an email to giveaway@absolutemichigan.com with your name, a contact phone number and either your favorite Michigan wine, beer or cider OR a restaurant, winery or brewery that you are excited to check out. We’ll draw a winner from the emails we receive tomorrow (Friday) at 11 AM!

Michigan’s wine grape acreage doubled over the past decade, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service. While acreage of juice & jelly grapes have remained steady at about 12,000 acres over the past decade, acreage of wine grapes has doubles from 1,300 to 2,650 acres, making Michigan the 5th largest grower of wine grapes in the US. According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, there are 101 commercial wineries producing more than 1.3 million gallons of Michigan wine annually. That number has increased from 32 wineries in 2002 producing 400,000 gallons. For more information about the Michigan wine grape industry, visit the council’s website, www.michiganwines.com.

“This data confirms the steady growth of the wine industry,” said Gordon Wenk, Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, who also chairs the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. “Michigan’s wineries are committed to the concept of regional identity by utilizing a high percentage of Michigan-grown fruit in their wines.”

grapes after sunset rain by aimeeern
grapes after sunset rain by aimeeern

Riesling is the most widely planted wine grape, with acreage nearly tripling in the past decade, and Michigan Rieslings and earned more than 20 top awards in 2012 for Riesling wines from bone dry to sweet late harvest & ice wine. It’s more than Riesling though. Cabernet Franc, a hearty, cooler climate red grape akin to the better known Cabernet Sauvignon also tripled in the past decade. Pinot Gris nearly quadrupled and Pinot Noir moved past Chardonnay as the state’s second most planted variety, with acreage increasing 150 percent in the last 10 years.

All in all, more than 40 varieties of wine grapes with at least two acres of production were reported. Traditional European varieties (vinifera) account for two-thirds of Michigan’s wine grape acreage. The balance is mainly comprised of hybrid varieties (crosses between European and native North American varieties). Get the complete results at michiganwines.com/fastfacts!

Here’s a video from last year courtesy our friends at Michigan by the Bottle:

Leland Wine & Food Festival ~ Saturday, June 9, 2012

Today on The Daily Michigan we have a pair of tickets to the Leland Wine & Food Festival.

Leland Wine Festival by farlane
Leland Wine Festival by farlane

It’s Michigan’s oldest wine festival and held on the second Saturday in June (June 9, 2012) from noon-6 PM. This year will be the 27th annual of this fundraiser for the Leland Chamber of Commerce, and there’s few things better than a day in the Leland Harbor and historic Fishtown tasting wines from local wineries and enjoying delicious food prepared by local restaurants.

There’s also live music all day and (of course) the beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands. Absolute Michigan is happy to be offering a pair of passes to the festival – click here for all the details and a listing of wineries & restaurants and check out the video below!

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

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    The Daily Michigan: $30 Dinner Dollar certificate to Black Star Farms

The Daily Michigan: $30 Dinner Dollar certificate to Black Star Farms

Today on The Daily Michigan we’ve got a $30 Dinner Dollar certificate to the Inn at Black Star Farms.

In addition to being a wonderful place to stay in the heart of Northern Michigan wine country, the Inn at Black Star Farms is also a culinary destination featuring specially themed dinner events and sit down dinners with unique appetizers, main courses and desserts. Dinners are served at the inn on select Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings with reservations beginning at 6 pm. The artfully prepared dishes inspire one to savor each bite in the relaxing atmosphere of their Arcturos Dining Room. Meals are prepared from fresh and local ingredients and are served alongside Black Star Farms wine and brandies.

Their Harvest Dinner Series is offered the second Wednesday of every month. It kicked off with the annual Morels in May event and upcoming dinners are Asparagus & Greens (June 13), Northern Michigan Berries (July 11) and Zucchini & Summer Squash (August 8). All of the dinners showcase the bounty of Northern Michigan agriculture and are paired with Black Star Farms’ wines.

Your certificate can be used towards either of these experiences and you can call 231.944.1251 for information & reservations.

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

The Daily Michigan: National Morel Mushroom Festival

Morels are popping up in Northern Michigan and today on The Daily Michigan, we’ve got a prize package to help you celebrate Michigan’s morel magic from the good folks at the National Morel Mushroom Festival!

Boyne City has hosted the Morel Festival for over 50 years, and once again May 17 – 20th, it’s all about the morels as restaurants prepare exotic, morel-laden entrees, songsters sing of the morel, secret hunting places (maybe) and recipes (definitely) are shared, and everybody goes on one of the mushroom hunts. There’s also all kinds of fun to be had that you can read about on their events page. We also invite you to enjoy a feature from Absolute Michigan writer Cherie Spaulding’s visit to the Mushroom Festival a few years ago.

We’re going to give one lucky person a pair of tickets to their Friday night concert with Michigan’s own Thornetta Davis and entry for two and 7 taste tickets each to the fabulous Taste of Morels, which features Boyne City restaurants dishing up fabulous morel mushroom dishes!! All you have to do to be eligible to win is to be on one of our lists – click below to make that happen!

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

2012 Chef’s Challenge at Boyne Mountain via Instagram

Team one gets down to business by farlane
Team one gets down to business by farlane

Absolute Michigan was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2012 Chef’s Challenge at Boyne Mountain last weekend. This annual event benefits Challenge Mountain, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching and improving lives for the mentally and physically challenged through outdoor recreation.

The team from The Art Institute of Michigan in Novi (who placed second last year) was named the 2012 winner, edging out the team from Odawa Casino & Resorts. Judges included Chef Angus Campbell of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, Chef Matthew Millar, Reserve Wine & Food in Grand Rapids; Chef Nathan Mileski of Northern Michigan University, Pastry Chef Rob Haney, retired pastry chef; Chef Robb White, Culinary Institute of Michigan and author Ruth Mossok Johnston. Chef Chris Kibit, professor at Northern Michigan University in Marquette once again served as liaison to the judges. Chef Michelle Bommarito served as emcee for the evening’s activities. The team from Marquette High School was named winner of the student competition on Friday night.

Check out our photos below and click the Facebook icon to the left to see more photos and video on the Challenge Mountain Facebook!

[slickr-flickr search="sets" set="72157629529824310" type="gallery"]

The Daily Michigan: 2 Tickets to the Michigan Wine Showcase


All month long we’re featuring Michigan Wine Month and wine related giveaways, and today on The Daily Michigan we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the Michigan Wine Showcase.

The annual showcase is presented by the Michigan Wine & Grape Council, the agency charged with promoting wine, wineries, grape growing and related research. It offers a chance to join Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madeline Triffon and more than 20 Michigan wineries for wine sampling and lavish appetizers created by Chef Chris Franz at The Rattlesnake Club in Detroit.

Winemakers and winery owners will be on hand during this fabulous walk-around tasting to share their new release wines from the spectacular 2011 vintage. Click the photo to the right for a slideshow from Absolute Michigan photographer Ken Jacoby and head over to michiganwines.com for more about the event, to order tickets and learn much more about Michigan wine!

Click here to sign up

  • Tastes of Black Star Farms
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    The Daily Michigan: $30 Dining Dollar to Tastes of Black Star Farms

The Daily Michigan: $30 Dining Dollar to Tastes of Black Star Farms


Today on The Daily Michigan we’ve got a $30 Dining Dollar gift certificate to TASTES of Black Star Farms.

Black Star Farms is a group of unique agricultural destinations including multiple tasting rooms, a distillery, an inn and many other features. One of these is TASTES of Black Star Farms, located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City, one of North America’s largest and most innovative redevelopment projects. The tasting bar and bistro offers samples and retail sales of Black Star Farms’ wines and also vodkas and whiskeys from Grand Traverse Distillery.

Their Matterhorn Grill Dinner is a simple and traditional European-style meal of Leelanau Cheese Company’s award-winning raclette cheese melted and poured over a selection of table-top grilled meat, sausages, potatoes, fresh vegetables, apples, and hearth-baked bread. Dinner is paired with your selection of samples of Black Star wines.

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

  • Traverse City Wine & Art Festival
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    The Daily Michigan: 2 Tickets to the 2012 Traverse City Wine & Art Festival

The Daily Michigan: 2 Tickets to the 2012 Traverse City Wine & Art Festival

Today on The Daily Michigan we have a pair of tickets to the 2012 Traverse City Wine & Art Festival held on June 30th at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

The festival is now in its fourth year and will feature 25+ wineries along with a selection of some of northern Michigan’s finest artists & restaurants backed by outstanding music and performances.

The interplay of food & wine is a big part of the festival, and also of the popularity of Traverse City as a culinary destination. Recently in Bon Appetit, superstar chef Mario Batali touted Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula, saying “The food scene has really exploded in the region. It’s very cool. The chefs involved in the scene celebrate what’s here; they’re not trying to be anything they’re not.”

What they are is definitely gathering notice: Livabilty.com has ranked Traverse City their #1 Foodie City in America, the James Beard Foundation tapped three chefs from the area as semi-finalists for their Best Chef: Great Lakes award, and USA Today, Wine Enthusiast and Trip Advisor have all tagged the area as one of the hottest wine regions in the country.

Click here to sign up

Celebrate Valentine’s Day the Michigan Way

Here’s a whole ton of Valentine’s Day ideas. YOU probably have some other ideas – share them in the comments or right here or on our Facebook!

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. - Confucius by Church of One
Wheresoever you go,
go with all your heart. – Confucius
by Church of One

Next Tuesday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day – a day for lovers, sweethearts, paramours … and chocoholics. Like it, love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is an annual tradition that will see over one billion valentines will be given out worldwide, 85% of those by women. However you choose to celebrate the holiday, consider making it a little more special with something from Michigan.

There’s plenty of delicious Valentine’s Day recipes from Pure Michigan at Michigan.org. The Food Network also offers up some culinary advice for Valentine’s Day complete with a full Valentine’s menu. Lansing’s WLNS CBS channel 6 website has a complete Valentine Day section on their website where you can learn all kinds of useful information including (who knew?) that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. The folks at the Grand Rapids Press and mlive.com have some tips for Valentine’s Day cooking with kids.

We have to remind you that February is National Cherry Month and cherries make a great and healthy way to bring the distinctive Valentine red into your celebrations. An affordable and tasty non-alcoholic beverage are cherry sparklers made with Michigan cherry juice and sparkling water.

On the adult beverage front, a whopping 95% of wine drinkers agree that wine makes a perfect gift, and you can’t go wrong with a  Michigan wine or  Michigan beer! The folks at MyNorth offer a listing of Northern Michigan sparkling wines to set the tone for your celebration. While bubbles are big, beers can also be appreciated. Dianna at Promote Michigan has let us in on her Love Affair with Michigan Beer, which features all kinds of special and regular brews from Michigan’s brewmasters. You can stay awake Ann Arbor Brewing’s Espresso Love featuring coffee, cozy up to the Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale from Atwater Brewing or go a little lighter with Dragonmead’s Redwing Raspberry Wheat. This is a great feature so definitely check it out!

Ginny, You Are My Shining Star by docksidepress
Ginny, You Are My Shining Star by docksidepress

If you’re left scratching your head over what to buy him or her, check out the ‘Valentine’s Day Gift Giving Guide‘ from WLNS.com.  Don’t forget the furry friends in your life either! You can be a homeless pets Valentine when WXYZ-TV 7 in Detroit hosts their Annual Valentine’s Day Telethon to support the Michigan Humane Society. Tune in or donate online with the Michigan Humane Society!

If that’s not enough and you really want to get your Valentine on, check out Absolute Michigan keyword Valentine for food & gift ideas.

For a little eye candy, you should check out the Valentine slideshow from the Absolute Michigan flickr pool!

We also have a large number of Michigan web sites to check out (though if we’re missing one, be sure to add a link to it).

Flowers & Florists - say it with flowers

Chocolate - there’s also candy companies

Candles - lighting the way for romance for thousands of years

Jewelry -silver & gold, platinum and bronze, pick your favorite.

Wow, you actually made it to the end of this post – don’t forget to buy yourself a little something for Valentines Day!

February Michigan Event Calendar

Iron Works #2 - Cranbrook by MikeRyu
Iron Works #2 – Cranbrook by MikeRyu

Our Michigan February Event Calendar shows that the more the weather tries to keep us holed up, the more ways we find to get out and have fun!! Of course, there’s still many, many more and we invite you to fill us in on other February events in the comments.

February Fast FactsWikipedia

  • Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. 2012 is a Leap Year!
  • It has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar)
  • It is the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years, will have only four full 7-day weeks.
  • Its birth flower is the Viola (plant) and the Primrose.
  • Its birthstone is the amethyst.