Pioneer Wine Trail

6/10/2012 14:22:07


Yesterday the temperature reached 90 degrees, and to avoid roasting in our non-air-conditioned house, we decided to spend the afternoon checking out three wineries on the Pioneer Wine Trail.  We frequently visit the wineries near Jackson - Chateau Aeronautique and Sandhill Crane are our favorites - because they're so close, but now there are three within close proximity of each other near Adrian, and so we set off.  We packed a picnic basket stocked with food and hit the road.
Our first stop was Flying Otter winery - the newest on the trail.  It's a family-owned winery and much of the family was in the tasting room chatting with us and telling us about their wines.  They were very friendly and welcoming.  You stand at a counter and taste, and they had cheese and crackers out to snack on, the cheese from Boulevard Market in Tecumseh that we stopped at later during the day.  The star wine at Flying Otter that both Kyle and I really loved was a dry red, called Noiret, with strong peppery flavors.  It would pair really well with steak or grilled foods like burgers.  They also had an excellent cherry wine blended with a white wine, so it was light and tart as opposed to cloying and syrupy.  They'll also let you picnic on the grounds overlooking the vineyard.  It was Kyle's favorite winery of the three, and we plan on returning later this summer, picnic basket and blanket and a cardgame at the ready, to enjoy an afternoon at Flying Otter. 
The second stop on our trip was J. Trees, another newer winery that we hadn't yet been to.  The tasting room is a tiny little cottage in downtown Blissfield with a few seats so you can get comfy while you taste.  They have an awesome rose, off-dry bursting with strawberry and berry flavor.  Really refreshing - a great summer wine.  Good for a picnic, fried chicken, or burgers and hot dogs.  They also had two super-sweet dessert wines, both of which we purchased.  The first is their "Fuji Cider" with sweet apple flavor.  It was a little syrupy but also really bright and full of flavor.  It would make for a great sipping wine or paired with cheeses for dessert.  The second is their ice wine, with sweet pineapple/peach flavor.  I loved it and was willing to pay the $35 price tag because it's the perfect romantic evening wine.  Open a chilled bottle of ice wine, pair it with some fruit and cheese, and sit around the firepit on the deck.  My fave winery of the day!  
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After our tasting at J. Trees, we walked down the block to the train boarding station, sat on a bench, and enjoyed our picnic.  We had two smoked trout spreads with Triscuits that we made earlier in the morning.  One had cream cheese, toasted fennel seeds, sauteed onions and celery, and salt and pepper.  The other had cream cheese, fresh dill, lemon juice, and sea salt.  They were a pretty close tie, but we liked the fennel one a bit more because it was more flavorful.  We also had veggies with ranch dressing: carrots, celery, mushrooms, and green beans.  And for sweetness, we had chunked cantaloupe and mango.  After our picnic lunch, we were recharged and ready to hit our last stop.

The third winery we visited was Pentamere Winery in downtown Tecumseh.  We'd been there once before a couple of years ago.  They - like J. Trees - also had a really nice apple wine.  But unlike J. Trees, Pentamere's apple wine was much lighter, crisper, more refreshing, and not necessarily a dessert wine.  We picked up a bottle of the apple wine along with another wine they were bottling while we were there, a peach wine.  I expected it to be syrupy and sweet and taste like the syrup in canned peaches, but it was actually much drier with a muted peach flavor.   
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The last stop of our day was not planned, but because Flying Otter's cheese samples were so delicious, and because they were from Boulevard Market in Tecumseh which was just across the street from Pentamere, we stopped into the market for some cheese.  The staff were really friendly and offered us samples of whatever we wanted to try.  We tried a few different cheeses and picked up 1/4 pound of each.  The first was a merlot cheddar, the same one we sampled at Flying Otter.  The second Kyle picked out, mimolette, which I can't remember much about besides it being bright orange and tasty.  The third is called seahive and is flavored with seasalt and honey.  

We'll be indulging in our cheese and icewine for a lunch out on the deck today.  Cheers!   

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