Bronte Baco Noir, from Hartford, Michigan

One of my fellow Bloggers just became a member of the Century Club, which requires one to have tried a hundred different grape varietals to gain the membership.  I would venture a guess that among the varietals that he had listed for entrance in the club, this particular varietal was not one of them (of course I could be wrong and if I am, I will gladly accept my premature presumption).   I am not sure where I tried this bottle, but this particular varietal was the first French grape attempted and successfully grown in the state of Michigan.  The planting began in the 1930’s probably just after the end of Prohibition in the United States.


The wine I am referring to is from the Bronte Champagne & Wine Co., Inc.  The company was originally started in Detroit as a wholesaler and a winery using bulk grapes purchased elsewhere and then processed the grapes in Detroit.  They eventually moved out to Hartford, Michigan in the Sister Lakes District and started planting a vineyard.  The varietal was Baco Noir; they also successfully planted another French varietal at the same time called Seibel 5279, now commonly known as Aurora.  By 1955 the Bronte winery was producing an annual production of the Baco Noir of 400,000 gallons a year.  This wine was even was listed as the top wine once by one of the members of the American Wine Society.  By 1984 the company ceased production, as the wine industry had evolved and changed while they continued to do business as they had.


I found all of this to be fascinating research for a wine that I must have had in my youth, which I could not remember any of the facts for.  One of the facts that I discovered, is that they were a great marketing company and offered in their hay-days, a tour of the facility and grounds and then offered free tastes of the products.  That concept alas has gone by the wayside, as many have lamented.

Bronte Baco Noir MI NV

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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14 Responses to Bronte Baco Noir, from Hartford, Michigan

  1. If you were referring to me, you were spot on: That grape had not made my list…:) Do you have any memories of its taste?

    • Oliver,
      Did you catch that reference? This is a very obscure varietal, and I remember only that it was not up to the standards of the other wines that I had already tasted at that time. This was more of a bulk wine, that still would have it’s place, but lacking in nuance.
      – John

  2. jenlyn35 says:

    I have a bottle of the Rhine white dinner wine by this company. It’s unopened and stored proper. I was thinking about selling. How would I go about appraisal and selling?

    • Thank you for stopping by. As for your question, you did not state the vintage year of the wine, but I would venture to say that you will not be able to sell the wine, and that hopefully it is not too old, as white wines normally do not have long lives. I would suggest that you just open up the bottle and enjoy it.

  3. Hi, do you have a reference for Bronte’s 1955 production of 400,000 gallons of Baco Noir?

  4. Steve, thank you for that document and that looks like one of the documents that I found back in 2013 when I wrote the article. I am always interested in learning more about Michigan wines. You can contact me at – John

  5. I have an unopened bottle of Bronte Pink Delaware 1981. Was thinking about trying it to see if it was any good food myself. But am hesitant because I don’t know the worth of the bottle. Probably aren’t alot of unopened bottles around. So I’m going to investigate into this further.

    • I have my doubts about the wine, there really is no value to the wine except perhaps as a curio. If you have the desire, I would chill the wine in the refrigerator over night and try it, but it may have oxidized after all these years. Good luck and thank you for stopping by. – John

  6. Dixie Phelan says:

    My father was the winemaker there until it closed. He began working there (late 60’s /early 70’s) after leaving Stephan’s (not sure of the spelling). It was a vinegar plant in Coloma, Michigan.

  7. Ron Beethe says:

    I bought the Baco Noir at the Keg and Cork in Ann Arbor sometime between 1971 and 1973. I liked it because it reminded me of some homemade wine I had tasted in Colorado. Definitely different from most commercial wines.

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