Laurentide Winery: One of Michigan’s Finest

Here’s To Love and Wine

by Marcy Harris

A row of wines from Laurentide Winery.

Boasting a rich terroir, northern Michigan has developed a distinct character over the past few decades with its abundance of bright and lively wines. One of our favorite vineyards, Laurentide Winery from Leelanau Peninsula, has released some of the best we’ve ever added to our list. Recently, we’ve enjoyed uncorking bottles of knowledge about the wines that they make with tastings we’ve hosted at the Roadhouse. Like anything we offer at the Roadhouse, be it food or drink, we collect the stories behind the artisans who produce what we want you to taste.

In the wine world, there is an understanding that the more a vine has to struggle in the soil, the more the grapes develop complexity. Similarly, we firmly believe that the passion and endeavors of any producer deepens your experience and takes you to a new level of flavor. Bill and Susan Braymer have worked hard to produce their wines at Laurentide, and theirs is a beautiful story that starts with falling in love–right here in Ann Arbor!

Love, like wine, gets better with time. – Anonymous

Bill and Susan met at one of our favorite places, the Arboretum at the University of Michigan, on an unforgettable spring day. Their dates often included sipping wine, and over time a romance also developed with food and wine pairings. Their move to Napa Valley in California and their travels to France strengthened a budding courtship with winemaking, teaching them about soil, terroir, and all the earthly elements required to produce great wine.

With degrees in chemical engineering and process control already under her belt, Susan received her certification in wine making at UC Davis. The Braymers tried their hand at garage winemaking with vines in their backyard, but also started flirting with the idea of producing wines outside of California. They had already made multiple trips up to Leelanau Peninsula over the years, and in 2006 they fell in love all over again–this time with a cherry farm on French Road.

The connoisseur does not drink wine, but tastes of its secrets. -Salvador Dali

That farm is now a 10 acre winery, producing 6 varietals of wine. Laurentide is named after the last great glacier that pulled away from North America 10,000 years ago. As this happened, not only were the Great Lakes formed, but Laurentide carved the shape of the Leelanau Peninsula. Rocks and fossils from a sea floor dating 350 million years ago were left behind, forming the mineral-rich terroir that would ultimately provide layers of ancient flavor in the wines made in this area.

Leelanau, home to 26 wineries, is located on the 45th parallel, a global band that includes many other famous wine growing regions, including Piedmont, Italy, and Bordeaux, France. Any of these areas are considered to be cool-climates, but geography contributes to natural buffers for the grapes. In the case of Leelanau, lake effect provides that buffer, and Laurentide is conveniently located one mile away from Lake Michigan. The grapes are kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The result? Clean, crisp, and well-balanced wines that are beautifully characteristic of their varietal, and those produced by Laurentide Winery are exquisite examples.

Wine is sunlight, held together by water.- Galileo

So what are our favorites from Laurentide? The Gold Medal winning 2017 Pinot Gris is a fantastic sipper, offering bright citrus notes and boasting well-rounded acidity, with a light, clean minerality. Enjoy a glass with Spiced City goat cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery, sautéed redfish, or with our fantastic buttermilk fried chicken.

The Sweet Riesling 2017 brings a taste of Germany to the Roadhouse, with bold aromas of tropical fruits and underlying mountain floral notes. Tasting reveals pineapple and ripe peach, with a lingering acidity. Try a glass with the Carolina grilled grits, any blackened fish, or our BBQ pork with Red Rage sauce.

Laurentide continues to be a leader in Michigan wine, showcasing the best their vines have to offer. As the Braymers like to say, wine is history, and you will be able to taste the history of Michigan terroir with every sip. Stop by and relax with a glass on our patio! Cheers!

Take a look at our wine menu for Laurentide offerings and more!