Text: R. Collins // Photography: Traverse City Tourism
Apart from its temperate-weathered, picturesque golf courses dotting freshwater coastlines and inland forests, northern Michigan is renowned worldwide for the quality of its wine production. Recently, the region excelled at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards, where 17 wineries from the Traverse Wine Coast region were awarded 69 medals. The Wine Coast region boasts two freshwater peninsulas on the 45th parallel that are home to more than 40 local wineries. These wineries grow and bottle roughly 60 percent of the state’s wine and are known for producing balanced, cool climate wines.
“We’ve been saying for a while that the wines of the region can match up with wines from anywhere in the world,” stated Gabe Marzonie, vice president of Traverse Wine Coast and director of marketing at Leelanau Wine Cellars Ltd., in the press release. “The TEXSOM competition is yet another piece of proof to that claim.”
TEXSOM was founded in 2005 as the Texas Sommelier Conference to promote professional wine service standards and raise public awareness about the standards for sommeliers. Across the more than 3,400 entries the competition receives annually, northern Michigan wines shined this spring, with three wineries—Aurora Cellars, Good Harbor Vineyards, and Soul Squeeze Cellars—capturing a rare Judges’ Selection Award, for their Cabernet Franc, Blanc de Noirs Dry Benjamin’s Vineyard, and Rapt Riesling Dry Bluff View Vineyard, respectively.
Another highly selective award, a gold medal, was given to nine wineries in the area, with three receiving two gold medals each. These local wineries include Aurora Cellars, Shady Lane, and Verterra. Winemakers from the area also secured 21 silver medals and 36 bronze medals, an impressive feat considering the competition’s international entries from top wine producing regions like France, Italy, and Argentina, and more than 70 international sommelier judges.
“When you combine award-winning wines with the spectacular experiences and views at the wineries, the wine industry is a huge attraction to visitors in the region,” said Trevor Tkach, president and chief executive officer of Traverse City Tourism in Traverse City, Michigan.
Traverse Wine Coast represents the local wineries in the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas in northwest Michigan with a vision of bringing national and international attention to the regional wine industry—and a goal to become a strong economic vehicle for the area. Its leadership comprises an elected board of members: Sherri Campbell Fenton of Black Star Farms, president; Marzonie, vice president; McKenzie Gallagher of Rove Estate, secretary; and Todd Oosterhouse of Bonobo Winery, treasurer; among others in the local winery industry and Traverse City Tourism. The announcement of the TEXSOM International Wine Competition came in May 2021.
TEXSOM International Wine Competition Winners:
45 North Vineyard & Winery
Ciccone Vineyard & Winery
Farm Fresh Wine Company (Leelanau Cellars)
French Valley Vineyard
Good Harbor Vineyards
Lakeshore Farms Trading Co. (Leelanau Cellars)
Shady Lane Cellars
Soul Squeeze Cellars