‘Fess up: The expression ‘holiday tradition’ sort of gives me the willies. It conjures up images of some calculated and obligatory family nightmare to which you drag yourself reluctantly, year after year after year, until the one year nobody gets on your case for not showing up because you’re dead. Off-key carolers, frostbitten Easter egg hunts, drunks in green top hats, endless lines of floats and war vets marching through sub-Saharan heat, sugar-rushed sprogs in flimsy, overpriced costumes, believe me, I could go on…
I know; I’m the guy that The Grinch calls ‘Scrooge’, but for me, a holiday tradition is to wait until the relatives ring the doorbell, then lock myself in the bathroom with a fifth of Jack, headphones and a Faith No More CD.
LPVA Wine Tour
Then I found out about the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association ‘Toast the Season’ wine tour. Okay, kids, now you’re talking—a wine tour is one holiday tradition I could wrap my head around.
I even like the name. See, to me, toast is not that breakfast slice of burnt Wonder Bread slathered in emulsified fat from a tub, but rather, a glass raised in bonhomie—which is why I drink first thing in the morning. As long as there’s that kind of toast, the word ‘season’ does not have such miserable connotations.
The 2011 Toast the Season wine tour will happen over two consecutive weekends: November 5 & 6 or November 12 & 13. It’s a self-guided tour and you can visit up to eight wineries each day in any order you choose between the hours of 11:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday, or noon to 5:00 pm Sunday.
Now, if all that doesn’t sound groovy enough, consider that the tour features a special wine and food pairing at each of the 19 Leelanau Peninsula member wineries. At your starting winery you will be given a commemorative glass, an LPVA holiday ornament, a souvenir wine key and a holiday gift bag featuring local food including fair trade coffee from Higher Grounds Trading Company of Traverse City, cocoa-coated chocolate covered almonds from Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in Empire, and Michigan cherries from Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor—and guaranteed, no emulsified fat in a tub.
Here’s a smattering of what’s on the agenda:
Chateau de Leelanau will be serving the "World Famous Willies Chili" with Solem Farm Red.
L.Mawby will offer Nature's Treat dried apples slices with Black Diamond aged white cheddar, paired with the L. Mawby Consort.
Ciccone Vineyards will feature an Italian Bruschetta with fresh ingredients straight from the garden paired with their 2009 Cabernet Franc.
Willow Vineyards will be serving up some naughty French Vanilla Pumpkin Squares with Caramel topping, paired with their Semi Sweet Gris.
Cherry Republic will pair a Gorgonzola, Pecan and Cherry Fondue using their delicious Cherry Bread and with their Great Hall Riesling.
Verterra is offering different food pairings with their Pinot Gris for each weekend: 1st weekend will be Char-Grilled Pizzetta with sun-dried tomato, fresh spinach, garlic, feta & mozzarella and the 2nd weekend will feature Santa Fe Sweet Corn Chowder.
Forty-Five North will be serving up carnitas tacos paired with their new 2010 Dry Riesling.
Hunting season begins on November 15th, so it is conceivable that one could head from the final day of Toast the Season directly to deer camp, thus having the ability to maintaining a low-grade buzz for two entire weeks.
Tickets for Toast the Season are $50 per person or $75 per couple (couple ticket holders receive two glasses, pours and food at each winery, but only one gift bag and ornament).
Tickets are available online at http://www.lpwines.com/toast/.