For visitors to Paw Paw, Mich., a stop at Warner Vineyards is a must — and not just because my Dad’s name was Warner.
For one thing, the grounds are gorgeous, with lush landscaping, its own little “river,” bridges and even an old train car. For another, the wines are pretty good.
Warner Vineyards was founded in 1938, and because it has been around for so long, is one of the few wineries in the country that is allowed to use the word “Champagne” on its sparkling wine labels. The specialty of the house is the Warner Brut, a wine that was served at the White House in 1976 by Michigan’s first President of the United States, Gerald Ford.
The wine also was the official champagne of Super Bowl XXIII in 1982, and Super Bowl XL in 2006. It’s a traditional blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, and I found it to be the equal of many California sparklers.
Warner Vineyards, like many Michigan wineries, also makes fruit wines, using red currants, Michigan Balaton cherries, peaches, apricots, cranberries and blueberries.
Yes, blueberries, straight from one of the blueberry-growing capitals of the United States, South Haven, Mich. The wine is called Blueberry Splash and it was delicious… but would it pair with the blueberry kringle we’d purchased at O&H Bakery in Racine, Wis. a few days earlier? With its 9.3% residual sugar level, my educated guess was that it would not.
But then I had an idea: What if one were to pour a glass of Warner Brut Champagne, and then add a splash of Blueberry Splash?
And just like that, our kringle conundrum was solved. Our concoction had just the right sugar level — sweet but not too sweet — plus a subtle blueberry flavor to complement the abundant blueberry flavor in the kringle.
When it comes to football, Wisconsin residents and Michigan residents do not get along. When we’d taken the tour of Lambeau Field in Green Bay a few days earlier, our guide told the group that the stadium had been visited by people “from all 49 states and the independent republic of Minnesota.”
But when it came to wine-and-food pairing, a blueberry kringle from Wisconsin and a “sparkling blueberry” wine from Michigan was pure bliss for this wine and blueberry lover.
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Monday: A few final notes about our trip through “Midwest wine country.”