Michigan Fortified! We used our own and other Michigan grapes to expand 2015 into a new venture for our state: Piccolo Dito!
When nature threatened our region’s second dismal vintage in a row, we decided to combine state history and ancient European tradition to create Michigan Magic here in the Little Finger of the state.
When a cold wind blows ill, harness it to chart a new course ahead.
For centuries wine alchemists have transformed grapes from low yield seasons into elixirs. Many became aperitifs known around the world to this day. As for Michigan, before Prohibition we were the top wine producing state in America, widely known for fortified wines.
While other Northwest Michigan wineries imported juice and grapes from the West Coast to bottle here, we adhered to our principle of using only Michigan grapes to craft Michigan wine.
Arctic air ruined many of the primary buds in our region’s Vinifera vines. Damage was not recognized until mid summer when it was obvious that the majority growth on the vines was from the secondary buds with minimal fruit set. Good grapes, but lower yield.
Fortunately Brengman Brothers vines did yield enough grapes for excellent small batch estate wines including Cab Franc, Pinot Blend, Riesling Trocken and our popular Runaway Hen Red.
But there wasn’t enough to meet demand.
What to do? Import West Coast grapes and juice as other wineries around here did? Of course not. We decided to use hybrid grapes from Southwest Michigan as historic foundation for a new line of fortified wines based on ancient European techniques producing outstanding aperitifs.
Our team was excited to have the time and grapes from Michigan to start on three special wines from the 2015 vintage. We call the brand Piccolo Dito for the Italian way of saying Little Finger, which is where we are located on the Michigan mitt.
We crafted our first Amaro, Sweet Vermouth and Mistella. They are excellent sipped straight as well as in new and traditional cocktails.
The most satisfying statement that we can make is that all the wine made by Brengman Brothers in 2015 was made with grapes grown in Michigan, either estate or from other Michigan growers. We can almost certainly say that there is no other winery in Michigan that can claim the same.