2020. What a year it’s been! While most of us would agree that this has not been the greatest of years, we do have some good news to share. St. Julian’s 2020 harvest is looking fantastic! In the winemaking world, harvest is the result of a year-long effort. The process leading up to juicy-ripe berries begins each year when the vines enter dormancy in winter. In years past, like in 2019, Michigan had to contend with the Polar Vortex’s extreme cold that damaged the vines and resulted in little to no harvest of grapes like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Gris. This year, the winter was relatively mild with almost no damage to the vines.
The next critical phase of grape development was bud break and fruit set in the spring. Bud break happened around April 12th and tiny grapes started to grow about a month later. During this stage, spring frost is a huge threat to the tender vines. On May 12th temperatures dipped below freezing at several of our vineyard locations; however, most wine grapes were not developed enough to be significantly damaged by the cold. Had this been a week or two later, the frost could have significantly impacted the harvest. Making it through a Michigan winter and spring with little fruit loss was half the battle. Thankfully, the summer was perfect for ripening the grapes. Grapes thrive when the weather is hot and dry. Dry conditions stress the vines and create smaller, more flavorful berries. With temperatures above average and little to no rain in July and August, the fruit was able to ripen beautifully and build great acidity.
Harvest started 2 weeks ahead of what’s normal for our region, with Foch being the first grape variety brought into the winery. The second week of September was cool with rain, so we brought in some of the aromatic whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Grüner Veltliner to keep them from losing their acid. Most of the whites were brought in by the first of October and they looked amazing with great fruit and acidity!
October continued to be warm and dry for the most part, which allowed the red varieties to continue to ripen. The longer we can allow these slower ripening varietals, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot to hang, the more intense flavors they will have. Leaving the fruit on the vines also has its risks. Damage from birds and deer is a challenge in the vineyards and crop losses can be significant. At our Mountain Road Estate vineyard, we implemented several methods of protection including nets over the vines, electronic bird distress calls and kites designed to scare away wildlife. As of mid-October, we are anticipating the reds to be stellar this vintage too! With over 50 varieties of grapes being harvested this year, and conditions throughout the year being advantageous, the 2020 harvest has the year ending on a sweet note!
Braganini Reserve 2019 Pinot Noir
Why is Pinot Noir so special? Thought to be more than 2,000 years old, Pinot Noir is considered one of the founding fathers of wine grapes; the great-grandparent of many other well-known grapes like Chardonnay, Gamay, and Syrah. It is one of the most loved and romantic wines in the world. Poets have said that its perfume is so voluptuous and its flavor so sweetly powerful that it’s like falling in love. The Braganini Reserve Pinot Noir continues to be one of the most anticipated wines released each year. Estate grown from our Mountain Road Vineyard in Coloma, the 2019 BR Pinot Noir is worth the wait!
Pinot is grown around the world, mostly in cooler climates near large bodies of water, like the Lake Michigan Shore AVA. Even though this grape is considered the most difficult to grow, our Mountain Road Estate vineyard continually produces beautiful fruit. It is balanced with the bright acid and complex flavors needed to make elegant wine. Lighter in body and far less tannic than other reds, this wine has powerful aromas of cherry, plum, and pomegranate. Flavors of baked cherry, strawberry jam, spice, and silky tannins are hallmarks of this varietal.
We LOVE this wine! A very food friendly wine given its higher acidity and lower tannins, the BR Pinot Noir pairs particularly well with duck, turkey, cranberries, figs, and mushrooms. It is light enough for salmon, but complex enough to hold up to some richer meats like lamb and filet mignon. It’s the catch-all food pairing wine that pleases most palates. You will want to have this wine on your table again and again!
Your emotions. Your perceptions. Your reactions. It’s all about your mindset. As we navigate through our daily lives, situations arise that we are not always able to control; but we can control our mindset. This emotional response dictates our expectations, our ability to focus, and the general attitude with which we approach life; so it’s kind of a big deal! The Wine Club release, MINDSET, is a semi-sweet wine designed to celebrate that which we can control.
MINDSET is crafted using the French-American hybrid grape, Chambourcin. This grape grows very well in the Lake Michigan Shore Appellation and produces wines that are deep-colored and aromatic. The juice was fermented on the skins for 7 days. The yeast is normally in control of sugar conversion; however, for this wine the yeast was purposely killed off once a residual sugar level of 4% was reached. This controlled process, known as “arrested fermentation,” allowed some of the natural sweetness to be preserved, creating a fruity and full-bodied wine. It was then put into stainless steel for aging to preserve the bright fruit flavors. A strong backbone of acidity keeps the wine well balanced.
MINDSET is bursting with blackberry, cherry, and plum jam flavors. Complex, yet very easy drinking, it can be served at room temperature to enhance the individual flavors, or chilled to add to the gentle sweetness. Try it with Sparkling Sweet Nancie for a festival holiday cocktail or pair with a charcuterie board. Salty cheese and crackers are a great pairing to make the fruit flavors in the wine pop. Salt + Sweet= Delicious. Enjoy as you reset your mindset!
For me, the sights, sounds, and smells of grape harvest are, and continue to be, as real as my distant memory will allow. Unlike the large flatbed and container transports in use today, smaller trucks loaded with wooden lugs would be lined up from our receiving area on Kalamazoo Street all the way up into town.
The smell of Concord, Niagara, and Delaware grapes filled the air and the aroma could be enjoyed throughout the village. The pictures below are from 1962. I-94 was being completed and we had recently opened the first tasting room in Michigan. As they waited for their turn at the crush pad, growers would exchange the stories and pleasantries of an era long gone in history.
My grandfather, Mariano Meconi, always a giant figure in my eyes, would carefully inspect the incoming fruit, and the entire winery was alive (like today) with activity. Large, open fermenting tanks, all made of wood, would start the winemaking process, and the new vintage would then transfer to enclosed cooperage, all wood.
In the early 1960’s, St. Julian owned a large farm operation in Decatur, and I would ride the St. Mary’s school bus to the farm there and pick grapes. While I cannot recall the exact amount of pay we received per lug picked, I do remember that it was attractive and allowed me to generate some additional spending money.
Today the transports are mechanized, the grapes are mostly hybrids or vinifera, and the winemaking equipment is sterile and safe. Our products are sold throughout the country in both retail and shipping channels. But harvest still comes once a year, and it’s a time of excitement and artisan renewal. Each vintage provides our cellar team new opportunities to create unique and memorable products and blends that will bear their own names and year.
As we enter our 100th year of continuous operation, I am proud to have come after the pioneers of the Michigan wine industry and look forward to our next century of success!
Grapes harvested later often have a higher amount of sugar and the yeast is not able to convert all the sugar in the juice before it dies off. Sweet wines like the Late Harvest Riesling have a RS of 5-8% when bottled. Sometimes, the winemaker decides to kill off the yeast before it finishes “eating” all the sugar in what’s called “arrested fermentation.” This will leave the desired amount of residual sugar in the wine. Also, some wines have fresh juice added back after fermentation to increase the sweetness and RS percentage. If you are interested in learning more about Residual Sugar and how St. Julian makes wines from dry to super sweet and everything in between, we invite you to attend the member exclusive Wine Club 101 in January at all tasting room locations! See details in the events section and online.
NOVEMBER WINE CLUB CALENDAR
Nov 1st: November Wine Club Newsletter emailed to you
Nov 3rd–4th: Regular Will Call orders processed.
Nov 7th: Will Call orders available for pick up
Nov 8th–9th: All shipping orders charged
Nov 10th–12th: All regular shipping orders packed and shipped
FEBRUARY 2021 WINE CLUB CALENDAR*
Jan 18th–29th Special request orders and additional wines will be added to your order and processed. Wines will ship as they are processed, unless you make other arrangements. You can change your shipping address, billing information or add wines to your order anytime before your order processes. Please keep in mind, once your order processes, we cannot guarantee your requests. You MUST CONTACT WINE CLUB to make any changes or additions to your order information.
Feb 1st: All Will Call orders Charged
Feb 1st: February Wine Club Newsletter emailed to you
Feb 2nd: Starting now, all Will Call orders available for pick up
Feb 4th–5th: All shipping orders charged
Feb 8th–10th: All regular shipping orders packed and shipped
*Dates subject to change. Cancellations must be done in writing to email@example.com 30 days prior to the next shipment.
What are those points on my account? Many of you have noticed that you have points accumulating on your Wine Club account. As a Wine Club member, you earn 4 points per dollar spent on all your purchases. Login to your account to check your point balance and redeem your points for a gift code that can be used online or in stores.
- Earn points on every purchase while your membership is active.
- Earn 4 points per dollar.
- The rate of redemption is 1 point =.01 dollars.
Earn 1,000 points to redeem a $10 gift code just for drinking your favorite wine! Points can be redeemed online or in the tasting rooms. Some exclusions apply. *May not be used on your quarterly Wine Club shipment.
To see how many points you have, visit your account on our website!
Our Next Case Sale Will Be December 11th - 13th!
Wine Club members receive 25% OFF all cases, plus penny shipping! You can mix and match bottles as long as you order in increments of 12!
Spiced Apple Wine
It is rare that a wine evokes such emotion in all who try it: dry wine lovers, sweet wine lovers, red wine lovers, white wine lovers… the new Spiced Apple Wine is a must try! Made from locally grown apples, real cinnamon sticks were steeped in the wine for 21 days. The result is a luscious, complex wine that tastes like mom’s apple pie with a clean refreshing finish. Members in our Sweet Harvest and Perfectly Paired Club will be receiving this wine in your quarterly shipment. Those who did not automatically receive it, we encourage you to get a bottle! It’s perfect for the crisp fall days ahead, either warmed up or served chilled. Indulge in the artistry!
Wine Club members are invited to join us for free to taste and learn about the wines you love in a fun and relaxed setting. Each month will focus on a different topic. 2 people per membership. RSVPs are required by calling your local tasting room. Space is limited due to social distancing requirements.
We invite you to learn about your favorite spirits and try them in delicious holiday inspired cocktails! Find out what spirits are being planned next!
Dec 9th, 6:00 pm - Frankenmuth
Dec 9th, 6:00 pm - Troy
Dec 9th, 6:00 pm - Rockford.
Dec 9th, 7:00 pm - Dundee
Dec 10th, 6:00 pm - Union Pier
Dec 10th, 6:00 pm - Paw Paw
Residual Sugar FAQs
Residual Sugar and Brix are winemaking terms used to reference sweetness levels. We will explore what these terms mean, how Brix and Residual Sugar are measured, and the differences these numbers mean for the wine that’s in your glass.
Jan 13th, 6:00 pm - Frankenmuth
Jan 13th, 6:00 pm - Troy
Jan 13th, 6:00 pm - Rockford
Jan 13th, 7:00 pm - Dundee
Jan 14th, 6:00 pm - Paw Paw
Jan 14th, 6:00 pm - Union PIer
Vineyard Select - Dry White
You asked and we listened! Members now have the option of signing up for the Vineyard Select Dry White Club, which highlights our dry white wines; new release and existing favorites. As with our other clubs, you can choose 2, 4 or 6 bottles each quarter. To enroll in this club option, please contact the Wine Club office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like the dry red club, we may need to limit this option depending on availability.
Refer a friend, family member or business associate to our Wine Club and when they join*, you will receive a $10 e-gift code! The more people you refer, the more gift codes coming your way!
*Only for new members. New member must make note of the referring name through a link in their club confirmation email. E-Gift codes only available for use in retail rooms or online.
Easy Mushroom Risotto
Pair with Braganini Reserve Pinot Noir
This easy, earthy comfort dish will pair wonderfully with our BR Pinot Noir! Serve it with pork, chicken or just as the main meal.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme, sage or rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¾ cup white wine
- ¾ cup arborio or risotto rice
- 1 ½ cup chopped mushrooms
- 3 ½ cups hot chicken or vegetable broth
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese and more for garnish
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion, salt and pepper and cook until tender.
- Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the rice and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the wine and simmer until absorbed.
- Add the broth and simmer, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender and broth is absorbed (18-20 minutes).
- Stir in cheese.
- Meanwhile heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a second skillet.
- Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden and tender.
- Add the herbs.
- Fold mushrooms into risotto and top with additional cheese if desired.
Cranberry Apple Bread
Pair with Spiced Apple Wine
Sweet and savory, this bread will pair nicely with the sweet and spiced flavors of our Spiced Apple Wine. The cranberries from the bread adds a bit of tartness to balance with the sweetness of the wine. The apples and spices found in the wine and bread complement each other perfectly.
- 2 cups peeled, chopped apple
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a 8 ½ x 4 ½ in. loaf pan.
- Combine the apples, sugar and oil in a mixing bowl.
- Add egg, mixing well.
- Combine dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.
- Add to apple mixture, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moist.
- Stir in the cranberries and nuts.
- Spread into pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Spiced Apple Wine
2018 BR Cabernet Franc
2019 BR Pinot Noir
Sweet Nancie CranApple
2019 BL Pinot Gris/Albarino
2019 BL Pinot Gris/Albarino
2019 Mountain Road Riesling
2018 BR LaCrescent
2017 BR Chardonnay
Native Root White
Spiced Apple Wine
Sweet Nancie CranApple
Spiced Apple Wine
Read about a wine you didn’t receive?
Wine Club members have access to any wine, in any shipment, if available. Call or email to check availability.
Seasons change and so do our tastes. If you see a club that looks more tempting, call now to change before February’s shipment!
(800) 732.6002 ext. 785 | email@example.com