It’s not uncommon for casual wine tasters, regulars and the lucky few who stumble upon Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyards to experience gush-worthy hospitality and a gorgeous glassful of Northern Michigan terroir—in fact, it’s the norm. Now, more than a decade in the winemaking industry, Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyards—located on the Leelanau Peninsula just miles north of downtown Traverse City—has made a name for itself, and it’s more than just about the wine. It’s better than expected.
The homage can be traced down the family line to Pete and Augusta. Owner Robert Brengman reflects, “My grandfather ran one of the largest night clubs in the Detroit area for a long time. He said you have to be built for this industry.” A high standard for hospitality runs deep in all three of the Brengman brothers who began planning the winery at the dawn of the 21st century. “Hospitality is in our blood and it makes sense when we look back on what Pete and Augusta did. My grandmother was queen of pairing foods and making sure everybody was comfortable. She was always looking after everybody,” notes Robert. When asked about the most rewarding part of bringing the Leelanau winery to life, Robert’s answer draws from the family legacy. It all goes back to the customer relationships they’ve been able to build over a spectacular variety of Northern Michigan wine.
This year, Brengman Brothers scored six heavy-hitting industry medals in the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world. Their 2013 Riesling Spätlese and 2013 Riesling Trocken both earned golds while their 2010 Riesling took silver—putting Northern Michigan on the New World map for a varietal that seems to lap up the brightest notes of Lake Michigan’s beauty.
So what’s next on the menu for Brengman Brothers? More stars are on the way. “The wines I’ve been most impressed with that we’re releasing are the 2014s,” says Robert. On Saturday, July 11th, Brengman Brothers invites the public to celebrate at the Annual Wine Release Party showcasing the latest vintages: the 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay, 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 2013 Pinot Noir, 2014 Troken Riesling, 2014 Cab Franc Rose and the 2014 Dugudscht (pronounced Dagoodshit). With zippy strawberry notes and tart brilliance, the 2014 Cab Franc Rose will be a showstopper—a glass you’ll want to enjoy as you relish the picnic-style celebration out in the vivacious Crain Hill Vineyard. If you can’t make the Annual Wine Release Party, Brengman Brothers has a list of upcoming events including the delicious Oyster Social on Friday, July 10th, and the Summer Wine Dinner on the Veranda, slated for August 15th.
When it comes to events, Brengman Brothers shines the light on the importance of the industry’s history. In fact, Brengman works to create a sense of history and thanksgiving in their own events, in large part inspired by the famous Feast of St. Vincent—a weekend long wine festival in France that pays homage to the patron saint of wine-growers and makers. “It’s an event tied to the industry’s history. All of these people come together to parade through the French vineyards and villages. Fresh air. Exercise. Meeting and greeting all of these people in the industry—that to me is an event that I want to celebrate!” Robert says. Every April, wine enthusiasts are invited to join Brengman Brothers to celebrate a mini version of The Feast of St. Vincent when the opportunity to pray for good weather, give thanks and feast is optimal for heading into the growing season.
Award-winning wine, hospitality and history shape the Brengman Brothers experience as Michigan continues to define its winemaking region in the New World. Find out more about Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyards here.