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Laurentide Winery: One of Michigan’s Finest

Local, estate-grown wines from U of M grads

by Marcy Harris

Boasting a rich terroir, northern Michigan has developed a distinct character over the past few decades with its abundance of bright and lively wines. One of our favorite vineyards, Laurentide Winery from Leelanau Peninsula, releases some of the best we’ve ever added to our wine list. We’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Laurentide for many years—we first added them to our wine list in 2010 and have done a series of events and tastings over the years with owners Bill and Susan Braymer, too.

From Michigan with Love

Like everything we offer at the Roadhouse, be it food or drink, we collect the stories behind the artisans who produce what we want you to taste. In the wine world, there is an understanding that the more a vine has to struggle in the soil, the more the grapes develop complexity. Similarly, we firmly believe that the passion and endeavors of any producer deepen your experience and take you to a new level of flavor. The Braymers have worked hard to produce their wines at Laurentide, and theirs is a beautiful story that starts with falling in love—right here in Ann Arbor!

Bill and Susan met at one of our favorite places, the Arboretum at the University of Michigan, on an unforgettable spring day. Their dates often included sipping wine, and over time, a romance also developed with food and wine pairings. Their move to the wine region of Livermore Valley in California and subsequent travels to France strengthened a budding courtship with winemaking, teaching them about soil, terroir, and all the earthly elements required to produce great wine.

With degrees in chemical engineering and process control already under her belt, Susan received her certification in winemaking at UC Davis. The Braymers tried their hand at garage winemaking, with vines in their backyard, but also started flirting with the idea of producing wines outside of California. They had already made multiple trips up to Leelanau Peninsula over the years, and in 2006, they fell in love all over again—this time with a cherry farm on French Road.

History in Every Glass

That farm is now a 15-acre winery, producing 15 varietals of wine. Laurentide is named after the last great glacier that pulled away from North America 10,000 years ago. As this happened, not only were the Great Lakes formed, but the Laurentide glacier carved the shape of the Leelanau Peninsula. Rocks and fossils from a sea floor dating 350 million years ago were left behind, forming the mineral-rich terroir that would ultimately provide layers of ancient flavor in the wines made in this area.

Leelanau, home to dozens of wineries, is located on the 45th parallel, a global band that includes many other famous wine-growing regions, including Piedmont, Italy, and Bordeaux, France. All of these areas are considered to be cool climates, but geography contributes to natural buffers for the grapes. In the case of Leelanau, the lake effect provides that buffer, and Laurentide is conveniently located one mile away from Lake Michigan, so the grapes are kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The result? Clean, crisp, and well-balanced wines that are beautifully characteristic of their varietals.

Fine Wines

When Current Magazine asked about his favorite regional wineries, our Bar Manager Felipe Diaz shared:

I’m excited to see so many new wineries make their way onto the stage here in Michigan, but Laurentide Winery, from Leelanau, Michigan, has been leading the way with honest, high-value wines. The rise of more women and people from underrepresented groups in winemaking has been a long time coming. It lets us experience a point of view and a creative approach that has previously been mostly unknown.

Did you know that our Roadhouse wine list was thoughtfully designed to be filled with full-flavored and sustainably produced selections crafted by women and underrepresented winemakers?! Our beverage specialists teamed up with Stephen Satterfield, wine expert and founder of Whetstone magazine, to feature a unique collection that reflects the diversity of America—like woman-owned Laurentide. We carry two of Laurentide’s exquisite wines:

Pinot Gris

One of our best-sellers, the Pinot Gris is a fantastic sipper, offering bright citrus notes and boasting well-rounded acidity, with a light, clean minerality. Enjoy a glass with one of our salads, sautéed fresh fish, or with our fantastic buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Sweet Riesling

The Sweet Riesling brings a taste of Germany to the Roadhouse, with bold aromas of tropical fruits and underlying mountain floral notes. Tasting reveals pineapple and ripe peach, with a lingering acidity. Try a glass with the Smothered Grits, any blackened fish, or our BBQ pork with Red Rage sauce.

Laurentide continues to be a leader in Michigan wine, showcasing the best their vines have to offer. As the Braymers like to say, wine is history, and you will be able to taste the history of Michigan terroir with every sip.

Stop by and relax with a glass of Laurentide wine soon! And in the meantime, take a peek at our wine menu to peruse all of our offerings!