(WJBK) - Northern Michigan has a growing reputation when it comes to good wine, but down here in the southeast did you know we have more than a dozen small wineries giving them a run for their money?
Twelve wineries have come together to form the "Thumbs Up Wine Trail", which takes you around - you guessed it - "the thumb". Obviously you can take the trail any way you'd like, but the most common way is to start in Harrison Township and make your loop up into the thumb, ending in New Baltimore. Kind of like this.
The twelve wineries included in this particular trail are Superior Lakes Hand-Crafter Mead & Wine; Filipo Marc Winery; Fieldstone Winery; Westview Orchards; Village Winery; Blake's Ciderhouse and Winery; Dizzy Daisy Winery; 3 North Vines; Sandy Shores Winery; Green Barn Winery; Sage Creek Winery; and Washington Street Wine House.
On the day of filming, we were pressed for time so the FOX 2 crew jumped right to Clinton Township's FilipoMmarc winery to meet Gerard Giacona. He says this is the perfect time of the year to check out the trail.
"Who doesn't want to drive and enjoy the colors?" he says. "Everybody recognizes Traverse City, but they don't know that we've been around and we've been local since 1999. Rather than being competitors ... we decided to put our synergy together and use that to our mutual benefit."
Then, we hopped back in the news van and traveled 20 minutes north, up Van Dyke to Washington, Mich. and stopped at Westview Orchards and Winery.
"We have things coming up for the holidays. We ahve recipes, food pairings, all kinds of good things. If you like wine, if you like food, if you like to get together wiht your friends and have wine, food and hard cider - you gotta hit the trail," says Katrina Roy.
Seasonally, hard cider is quite popular this time of the year.
"What we have now are Fearless Mike's Hard Cider, named after my great-great-great-grandfather. It's a traditional hard cider and we have fun with our guests, and I make a strawberry hard cider or a peach hard cider just depending on their taste buds," Roy says.
After Westview we could have continued on to the farthest one north, Dizzy Daisy Winery in Bad Axe, but we had to head back to the station.
While not all of the wineries have their own vineyard, most try to get their grapes from local growers if possible. They all do make and sell their own wines. Predictably, some of the most popular are the Michigan sweet wines.
You can find out more at www.thumbsupmi.com.