I had heard about Hawthorne Vineyards; I think before they had bottled a wine. A relative of the owner Bruce Hawthorne had mentioned the winery several times to me when he was buying clothes. Too many salesmen talk, when they should be listening, but I was intrigued about the winery, because I was amazed that there was the potential of a new winery on Old Mission Peninsula, but then again there are probably more in the works and in reality this peninsula is really much bigger than it looks on the map. This winery is about four miles away from Traverse City, but where the tasting room is situated, it is probably the most secluded and one of the most beautiful vistas on the peninsula and as a bonus, one cannot see the traffic below. According to the staff, the winery was started in 2005, and the estate was an eighty-acre farm with grapevines, cherries and plums and they began with twenty-six acres devoted to vinifera with more to come.
The winery at the moment has small capacity, and the beautiful tasting room building can also be leased for special events. The tasting room fee was seven dollars, but I think that I turned off the person behind the counter, because my Bride and I share a tasting together, because we are there to taste wines and not to get hammered and there is that potential when you go to enough wineries in a day. I think that our hostess also lot interest, because I was not interested in booking a VIP tasting tour or even ordering a charcuterie plate, as there was no chance of upselling. I am also glad that I had a writing pad of paper in my sport coat to take notes, as there was no printouts or tech sheets available. I also felt like a social pariah when busses started arriving with groups that were there just to drink basically anything put in front of them, without asking any questions. I guess our hostess didn’t think that we were having a good time, because we were studying the wines and asking questions, even though I told them that I write a blog and that I was not looking for a free tasting.
The first wine that we tried was the Barrel Reserve Auxerrois Rigan Vineyard Old Mission Peninsula AVA 2017. Auxerrois is a varietal that has many names, but it is most famous in Alsace where the best versions offer shades of honey in a nuanced glass of wine. This wine was a good introduction to the winery, because this potentially difficult grape to grow was not flabby and offered some crispness to the finish. The wine was aged for eight months in neutral French Oak barrels and there were two-hundred-forty-five cases produced. The second white wine that we tried was the Barrel Reserve Chardonnay Old Mission AVA 2016 and it was a delightful Chard. Almonds came to mind in my notes with some zesty fruit and some spice, which I found very interesting, because the wine was aged on the lees for seventeen months in French Oak. There was a production of one-hundred-eleven cases made. The first red wine of the tasting was the Lemberger Old Mission Peninsula AVA 2016 and a great wine in its own right. Lemberger is probably more known by its German name Blaufrankisch and is one of the key red wine grapes for Austria. This was a good wine, and I think for drinking within the year to appreciate the black pepper and spices with a nice touch of heat to the finish. The wine was aged for nineteen months in French Oak, and half was new. The last wine that we had at the tasting was the Cabernet Franc/Merlot Old Mission Peninsula AVA 2015 and it was fifty-four percent Cabernet Franc with the balance in Merlot. This wine was aged for thirty-three months in French Oak and delivered some plum, some spices and a touch of Vanilla. I enjoyed the tasting and the wines, but I felt that I was getting the “bum’s rush” for the “drinkers and the swillers.”