45 North Vineyard & Winery
8580 E Horn Rd. Lake Leelanau, 49653 MI
Why We Recommend
If vineyards located anywhere near the 45th parallel of the world are believed to possess a particular growing advantage, then 45 North won the lottery. The magical climate coordinate line runs straight through this property. Forget “Four Corners” in the American Southwest; this is exactly where wine lovers want to be. Go ahead, walk out in the vines at 45 North and take a selfie in front of the “Wine on the Line” sign—denoting the exact GPS location.
Just as that famous marker is approachable, so are the wines here at 45 North. Everything is handcrafted at this vineyard-to-bottle operation using estate and regional grapes.
It all started after Steve and Lori Grossnickle bought a centennial farm in the middle of the picturesque Leelanau peninsula. They set up a sustainable vineyard and preserved the land to ensure it could never be development. Steve shares, “Leelanau is beyond spectacular. It should remain, as it is.”
For a destination forever tied to a number, here are some other interesting digits: Of 45 North’s 100 acres, 35 are vines, exhibiting 10 types of grapes that produce 109 wines, which have won 72 awards to date. And the state-of-the-art production building holds 20,000 wine cases per year. Phew! That’s a lot of math. Time for a drink!
In a refreshing twist, the tasting room has a casual western theme—coming from owner, Lori, who has been called a “cowgirl at heart.” The rustic space is a lovely hand-hewn, post-and-beam barn. (The couple’s home is a nearby horse ranch.) The tasting room manager serves as resident “wine slinger,” while guests nosh on popcorn, like in a friendly saloon.
When faced with a duel, 45 North always seems to come out standing. The winery won several medals at competition for their first vintage in 2007. Those early accolades allowed 45 North to make a name for itself quickly and the wins kept coming.
All the attention means 45 North is taking the right risks. For example, in addition to using traditional stainless steel or oak barrels, 45 North ferments some of its wine in a “concrete egg tank” to draw out unique qualities. The move paid off! The first wine—the 2013 Pinot Gris—made using this vessel amassed three double gold medals at national wine competitions!
Fun-loving winemaker Jay Briggs loves concocting new products like the hard Citra Cider. (Think: grapefruit-inspired hops!) The property has 5 acres of apple orchards devoted to the booming cider arm of the business. And the peach crémant, a bubbly blend of cold-pressed local peaches and white wine blend, is also a creative crowd pleaser.
So set your coordinates to 45 degrees north and arrive at a memorable destination: where you can taste wine, enjoy the outdoor bocce ball courts, the 3-mile mountain bike trail or the groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails through the property.
What's Up Recommendation
The owner, Steve, knows a thing or two about wine so ask him why the 2013 Cabernet Franc is his favorite. This delightfully dry glass starts with cherry cordial and cocoa, with notes of smoky fruit, and pairs nicely with any seasonal meat dish.