Part of an occasional summer series featuring wine shrines around Michigan.
With three years under its belt, the establishment known as Salt of the Earth in Fennville, tucked away on the state’s west side in Allegan County, has become a destination in West Michigan’s resort belt.
An hour from Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Grand Rapids, a short romp from Saugatuck, and about three and a half hours from Detroit, Salt is spicing up the food and wine scene with its fresh foods, hearth-baked breads, casual refinement and Michigan wine program.
Salt of the Earth bills itself as “rustic,” which fits the locally sourced, made-from-scratch entrees like braised pork shoulder and bone-in, hand-cut ribeye; shared plates such as the confit of chicken wings; wood-fired oven pizzas with homemade sausage; creative desserts; and the short, handpicked list of Michigan and world wines, which favors local spots like nearby Fenn Valley Vineyards and its Sauvignon Blanc and Old Shore Vineyards’ Pinot Gris.
“Call us a gastro pub, not a white tablecloth place,” co-owner Mark Schrock said this week, borrowing a British term for a pub that serves high-quality food. “We are nothing but casual.” Well, yes, but chef Matthew Pietsch cooks with the style he learned under Michael Symon at Roast in Detroit, and before that managing Opus One’s corporate food service in Dearborn, and before that serving an apprenticeship with the U.S. National Pastry Team.
Coming up next week is Salt of the Earth’s final Michigan Wine Dinner, where guests can sample not only Pietsch’s take on local produce and meats, but also that of guest chef Jeffrey Johnston from New Buffalo, with the wines of Jim Lester at Wyncroft Winery in Buchanan, Mich.
Wyncroft’s artisan wines, sold only by subscription, seldom make it to wine dinners because of their limited availability and cost. But at Wednesday’s dinner, Lester will pour his 2011 Avonlea Dry Riesling, ever-so-Burgundian 2007 Chardonnay, his new 2010 Pinot Noir and new 2010 Shou — the Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The dessert course will feature the late-harvest 2008 Riesling “December Harvest.”
This array of Wyncroft wines at one seating is a rarity for its combination of aged and new vintages and the fact you are sampling close to everything the winery makes.
Salt of the Earth is at 114 E. Main St. in Fennville. Call (269) 561-7258 or go to www.saltoftheearthfennville.com.
WYNCROFT WINE DINNER
Where: Salt of the Earth, Fennville, Mich.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday June 20
What: Five-course dinner with wines from Wyncroft in Buchanan, Mich.
Cost: $85 plus tax and gratuity
Call: (269) 561-7258 after 3 p.m.