Cheers to That

Noteworthy new wines from across Lake Michigan

There's a new winery in our midst, and it's providing compelling reasons to give Michigan wine a fresh look.

Over the holidays, we clinked glasses of Verterra's newly released wines from the 2010 vintage. They included a lively Pinot Blanc ($18 for a 750-ml bottle) and a Reserve Chardonnay ($24 for 750 ml), its citrus and apple flavors mellowed by a turn in French oak. The winery's seven-month-aged Reserve Red ($25 for 750 ml) brought youthful, rough-hewn Italian reds to mind.

The Leelanau Peninsula winery's 2010 vintage is its first, having been harvested from 30 acres of three-year-old vines. The 2010 production was relatively small at 1,200 cases.

Still, Verterra is now the region's fourth-largest winery, and the wines are finally available in Chicago by mail order (call the winery to order).

The winery's 2011 harvest yielded five times as much wine as the previous harvest, and bottles will be appearing at local retail outlets in the coming months. We're especially excited for the future of Veterra's reds. Co-owner Paul Hamelin aspires to emulate the finesse and nuance of European Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, taking advantage of the brevity of Northern Michigan's summer rather than lamenting it.

Come summer, we'll be adding the winery's 2011 rosé–meaty and dry, promises Hamelin–to our must-drink list.