BARK RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - Whether it's the middle of summer or deep in winter when you arrive at Northern Sun Winery, you will probably be greeted by Smitty the award winning winery dog.
That's what happened to me. I parked at the end of the driveway to get a shot of the sun setting over the vineyard when Smitty came trotting down the driveway to greet me. Apparently Smitty approved of me because I was allowed to head up to the tasting room.
Now I did mention Smitty is an award winning winery dog but Smitty isn't the only one who has a ribbon.
Dave and Susie Anthony have been collecting competition medals for their wines ever since they opened a few short years ago.
Two years ago the Anthonys decided to add to their cellar by taking a crack at making a wine that finds it's modern roots in Germany.
I had a chance to talk with winery co-owner Dave Anthony about what goes into making wines in general and particularly ice wine.
"It's an ordeal to make ice wine. It's an ordeal to make any wine but you have the added challenge of harvesting your grapes in a frozen condition. So you have to get people to come out and pick them in 14 to 17 degree Fahrenheit temperatures and then we crush the grapes while they're frozen. The juice that is produced from the crushing is so concentrated in sugars that it won't freeze."
At that point the juice goes through what is a more traditional, if some what rigorous, fermentation process.
One of the things that makes ice wine so precious is that it takes roughly ten times the amount of grapes to make a bottle compared to your regular wines. You simply don't get that much juice out of frozen grapes. But, those who try ice wine usually agree it's worth it.
"The end result is a wine that has a very bold body. It has the consistency of a light honey almost. It also has the character of a spicy pear as well as maybe a bit of apricot in there as well so that it's very vibrant. Overall it comes together really really nice and makes a wonderful sipping wine that very sweet."
Dave is right about that, it's a sweet wine but even if you don't care for sweet wines it's worth a try. If for no other reason than to try a unique form of wine.
Now, if you want to try ice wine then you need to keep something in mind. Ice wine is produced in small lots so it doesn't tend to hang around long so get in touch with the winery and see about getting yourself a bottle.
There are a lot of other things about Northern Sun Winery that are worth talking about but the other thing I will mention here is their volunteers. Northern Sun has volunteers who come out in both summer and winter to pick grapes with them. If that is something that sounds good to you then you are more than welcome to contact the winery and let them know you're interested.