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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Lake Michigan Circle Tour 7/1 - 7/4/09

We just got in from the Lake Michigan Circle Tour and, boy, are my arms tired.

(I'm being told that joke doesn't work in this context.)

Anyway, Fran and I decided a fun little trip would be to do the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, stopping occasionally to take in the scenery and hit up some wineries along the way along with some goofy spots which we haven't visited before.

I guess I expected most of the roads to be like driving on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, but the only stretch of road really like that was up in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Most of the time we may have been close to the lake, but there was no view. Fine by me - many stretches were in forested areas with hills which is a big enough change to be interesting - but if you want all lakefront driving, you may find it disappointing.

The 1000 mile or so trip does take roughly 20 hours, so audiobooks are a must - our play list included: The Bro Code by Barney Stinson (annoying), Why We Suck by Denis Leary (the best read audiobook ever - it sounded like Leary was just ranting off the top of his head), Born Standing Up by Steve Martin (fantastic), a few Ricky Gervais Guides to Life (dangerously funny to listen to while driving), plus an unsuccessful attempt to get through God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (you thought I mumble? Listen to this guy).

Anyway -

We visited thirteen wineries on the trip, three of which were revisits from our last visit. I'll be putting my notes up slowly but surely over the coming days.

When visiting wineries, we tend to be our typical socially awkward selves - I take notes, but no mention of this blog is mentioned (unless noted).

I don't mention the blog for two main reasons:

1) I don't want special treatment - especially on a first visit. I'd hate to be treated very well by someone who tends to be a total prick because they're afraid of bad press.

2) I'm too emotionally fragile to risk hearing things like: "Oh, you write that crappy blog?" or "Oh, you think you're so big, Mr. Blogger, well get the hell out of my winery, you prick!" Seriously - I fear such things. I have getaway music cued on my car stereo just in case such an incident occurs.

The notes I take are scribbled in a book using a shorthand and writing style only legible to me. I remember feeling guilty when I jotted down "flabby" about a wine and the person working clearly saw (no doubt thinking "look who's talking") so I've created a shorthand that works well.

Many of these tastings are based on a shot glass worth of wine and frequently served in terrible stemware - so of course the notes aren't perfect, but based on the circumstances, I think we do alright.

This was our second trip to Traverse City, and I'm betting that this will be an annual pilgrimage for us. It's true there is a disproportionate number of lame, sweet Rieslings (with exceptions mind you) and there's also an odd push of cherry wine. That being said, there is little that is outright bad, and many places are pretty damn solid.

I do find it interesting that the newer places all seem to be operating at a higher level than the old standbys - will TC, as a whole, win over the wine snob today? I'm not sure....but many of the new guys (2 Lads, Circa, and 45 North) are kicking some serious ass.

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