Annual Leland Wine Fest celebrates 30 years of vino
Michigan's oldest wine festival celebrates a milestone anniversary this weekend, but don't expect much in the way of hoopla. As always, the emphasis is on wine.
Begun 30 years ago to promote Michigan's infant wine industry, the Leland Wine & Food Festival draws a couple thousand people from all over the Midwest each June to a scenic spot on the Leland Harbor, where vintners compete with stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands. Look for familiar wineries like Chateau Fontaine, Blustone, and Verterra and new ones like Aurora Cellars. Notable area restaurants and food vendors will sell their specialties.
Up until about 15 years ago, downstate wineries were regulars at the festival, but as Michigan's wine industry has grown, the festival's focus has narrowed to wineries on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. There are about two dozen wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula alone.
"Over the years, it has remained a wine and food festival," says Kate Vilter, president of the Leland Chamber of Commerce and festival chair. "We are about promoting wines from the area. We also have a lot of local products. This is one of those fun events that was around long before (wine and food festivals) were trendy."
Other than rotating wineries, the only other change this year is the hours. They've been expanded from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., after organizers noticed festival goers lingering in the evening, dancing to the live music.
For a more intimate experience, Artscape, held Friday, offers a chance to mingle with area winemakers and artists. The winning work of a juried, invitational art exhibit is used for next year's Leland Wine & Food Festival poster.
Leland Wine & Food Festival
Tickets $20; $15 in advance