Even with all of the driving that we did, we wanted to visit another winery that we had heard good praise about, and that was Verterra Winery. I found it amusing that the same week that we had returned home, I was listening to a radio program about the virtues of Michigan and they were interviewing the owner of Verterra Winery. He was explaining the process in which he had to get the name approved and his first several choices were already being licensed. He decided to create his own name and went to Latin, which is the base language for so many terms used in winemaking. He took the word Veritas which means Truth, and the word Terra which means land, combined them to make Verterra which means True to the Land, and Verterra was free and clear and he had his name.
The winery started in 2006 with an acre and a half and the winemaking fever took hold and now they have forty plus acres of land, cultivated on the slopes and undulations of the Leelanau Peninsula. The Leelanau Peninsula AVA basically encompasses the entire Leelanau County and the peninsula takes advantage of the lake effects to keep the grounds cool during the hot summers, and allows the snow to cover the vines and for the most part prevents them from freezing, because this is Michigan. The winery has a nice tasting room, and they also have a secondary outdoor tasting area, that is not always available, because not only is this area famed for winemaking, but a curious secondary business has risen up, and that is being the venues for destination weddings. Several of the wineries have made accommodations for weddings or group events and Verterra is one of them, and they also can boast that they have permanent and proper enclosed areas for the caterers and for the wedding participants, a bridal lounge and for the guests indoor plumbing with granite counters and tile enclosed, which I am sure has made many a Bride even happier on her day.
Of course, I digress, as is my nature, but we also tried some lovely wines while we were there, and the staff did not find me too annoying, at least I hope not. Perhaps my only complaint and it is a mild one, was that they did not have paper printed lists of the wines for me to make my notes on, but luckily my Bride saved the day with a scratch pad. All of the white wines we tried were aged in Stainless Steel for a crisp and fruit forward taste. The Verterra Pinot Blanc 2017 was a very easy drink wine with a light floral nose and a nice finish. The Verterra Dry Riesling 2017 was a very crisp and enjoyable wine. This particular wine has captured the Best Dry Wine for two year running now in the Michigan Wine Competition. This wine is so well made and drinkable, that there is a two-bottle limit only on this wine, and yes, after this latest trip up North, have decided that I really enjoy a well-made Michigan Riesling, a wine that I used to avoid like the plague. The Verterra Dry Gewurztraminer 2016 was a real winner. It had that slight effervescence that one sometimes finds in some of the delicate white wines of Italy. This wine had a light floral and grapefruit nose that I found very enchanting, and yes, we have always been eager to find a new Gewurztraminer, like we did here. The Verterra Pinot Noir 2016 had fourteen months of aging in French Oak, but I found it to be light, but potentially a year or two in the cellar may aid this wine to be more rounded. The nose had cherries and pomegranates to make the nose more interesting and made us think that aging would be good for it. The Verterra Reserve Red 2016 was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It had a “smoky” finish to it, and I think a few years in the cellar will bring out this wine, at least this is what we said to ourselves while we were making our purchases. I think part of the problem, if you can call it a problem, which it really isn’t is that the vines are still young and need to mature and get a bit more gnarly from the abuse of stressed farming will do to it, and since the winery is only ten years old, I will give them that liberty. The last wine that we tried was the Verterra Cherraz Port NV. Here was a cherry wine infused with raspberries, fortified with local apple brandy and aged in oak barrels. It was an intriguing dessert wine with several layers that were very harmonious and complex. We are really enjoying our trips to the Leelanau Peninsula and our cellar is showing a slight Michigan accent, of course all news reporters try to acquire that accent which is so easy for us here, and eventually the wines will also receive more acclaim.