Yesterday afternoon Barb and I made a quick trip to Taylor Ridge Vineyards in Allegan to pick up a load of grapes. I always enjoy our annual September visits down to the heart of southwest Michigan’s wine country. The leaves on the trees lining the two-lane roads are on the cusp of their fall foliage and the expanses of brown-turning corn fields surrounding the faded red barns and old farm houses are still pretty to look at. Yesterday’s sky added another dimension to the experience. It was an interesting sky—low banks of purple clouds moving fast under their high-billowing cumulus counterparts. There were occasional bursts of sunlight and brief glimpses of the blue sky. Every so often a brief downpour necessitated turning the windshield wipers on high. A minute and mile later the pavement would be dry.
One of those rain showers hit while we were loading up the grapes. Brian Taylor, the seventy-three-year-old farmer who owns the vineyard with his wife, Carol, looked up at the sky and grimaced. Rain is never good during the harvest—it can water down the juice and lower acidity. But many years of harvesting have taught Brian that since the weather can’t be controlled, it's best to go with the flow.
Brian told me that he still has some Foch, Dechaunac, Frontenac, Seyval and Lacrosse available for purchase and that he will offer a discount to anyone who mentions that they are a Siciliano’s customer. I picked up ninety pounds each of hybrids that grow well in Michigan—Noiret and Leon Millot. The ninety pounds of each will translate into six gallons of wine, twelve gallons total. I have no experience with the latter but according to Brian it will produce a wine with a distinct berry aroma.
On the way home I thought briefly about stopping at a couple of bars in Allegan’s quaint and historic downtown. But there was pressing business waiting for me at the store and Barb had to get to her stained glass class. Maybe we’ll come back during one of Allegan’s infamous lake-effect snow storms. I’m sure wine country is also beautiful in the winter.
*Unfortunately Taylor Ridge is sold out of Chardonnay for the year. The grapes pictured belong to Buzz contributor Wes Eaton, a talented winemaker in his own right, who had the boss pick them up on his recent trip to Allegan.