Wine of the Day: St. Julian Reserve Pinot Grigio; Benziger Cab; MSU tourism study

To my readers: The Wine of the Day feature in my virtual wine cellar has fallen prey to hackers and for now must be displayed in the regular blog space.


St. Julian Reserve Pinot Grigio Lake Michigan Shore 2011, $14.99

This pale golden nectar stands out with its sassy midpalate blast of lime, tangerine and grapefruit zest. Aromas are pear, mango and pineapple. It finishes tart and dry with a faint taste of honeyed apple. It’s clean, crisp, fruity and dry. It’s begging to be poured with plank-cooked whitefish or sauteed pickerel, or lake perch. I love the elegant new labeling on the St. Julian Reserve wines — the 2011 Reserve Riesling had a similar label. The back label has a sweetness scale — this baby is dry — and names the growers: Mike and Sandy Nitz, owners of Hollywood Estate Vineyard; and Joe and Sue Herman,  who own Lake Vineyard. It’s amazing and humbling for me to watch the progress of Michigan wines — how many of the growers and winemakers have turned the page to world-class wines for a world palate.


Sonoma’s Benziger family has put earth-friendly practices on a par with great wine. Long before green was in, the Benzigers were minding the earth. Taste the Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2009, $20. It’s so meaty you can slice it with a knife — dark currant, cherry, dark plum and dark chocolate; throw in subtle dusty tannins and acidity for balance. Smoke and spice from good barrels resonate through the flavors. This wine is grown with practices certified as sustainable. Right now, sheep are grazing in the vineyard because there are no tempting flowers or grapes to nibble on.

Dr. Dan McCole, left, and Dr. Don Holecek. (Image courtesy of Michigan State University)

Dr. Dan McCole, left, and Dr. Don Holecek. (Image courtesy of Michigan State University)


Dan McCole, Ph.D., MBA at Michigan State University, presented the findings on “What’s Important To Tasting Room Visitors” to vintners in Michigan recently.

With Dr. Don Holecek and lead research assistant Anna Popp and other assistants, the MSU Wine Tourism Research Group, in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, collaborated with 15 Michigan wineries on the project.  They expanded their focus beyond consumer acceptance of  cold hardy cultivars — the original point of the study — to address general marketing and economic factors that pertain to wine tourism.

The 15 wineries provided the group with the contact information of 3,649 tasting room visitors of which 40 percent responded to the tourism questionnaire. Tourism businesses also collaborated on the project.

I thought you might be interested in the findings. Note that the percentages represent the highest number of respondents.

>> Most of the visitors to Michigan wineries live in Michigan.

>> The majority are age 51 to 60, followed by age 21 to 30.

>> 61 percent considered themselves “Somewhat Knowledgable about Wines”

>> 65 percent included an overnight stay in their visits to Michigan wineries (average stay: 3.5 nights).

>> The average number of wineries visited per day was 2.7, or 6.1 for an entire trip. They bought an average of 7.4 bottles of wine that averaged $16.50 per bottle. Average amount spent on a wine trip: $780.

>> 19 percent drove at least 100 miles away from home to get to the wineries.

>> 31 percent said visiting a winery/wineries was key to visiting the area.

>> 28 percent said the reason for visiting the winery/wineries was to have an enjoyable day out. Other key reasons: Socialize with friends, purchase wine, have a unique experience.

>> 50 percent used the Internet to plan their trip.

>> Brochures, maps, and smartphones assisted the visitors.

>> 71 percent did not avoid a tasting room that charged a fee.

See more findings tomorrow.

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