"Cold hardy." It's a term that describes the Indian River area to a T. With soaring summer temperatures in force last week, it's easy to forget the bone-chilling February weather. Conditions here make winter ideal for snowmobiling and ice fishing, but wreck havoc on tender vegetation.
Traditional grapes such as Chardonnay, a green-skinned variety used to make white wine, and Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of red wines, can't stand up to our winter weather. But newly developed hybrid grapes designed to thrive in Northern Michigan have opened up a new opportunity for fruit growers and wine makers and have revolutionized the wine-making industry.
"Our wines offer intriguing flavors that reflect our area's unique growing climate," explains Rachel VanValkenburgh, marketing director for the new Seasons of the North Winery LLC, located at 9090 West M-68 Hwy, just three miles west of the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods here.
VanValkenburgh and her husband, Sid, are co-owners of Seasons of the North, along with her parents, Mike and Brenda Passino of Indian River. Together, they represent over 40 years in combined business experience. The four partners are taking hands-on management roles in the company, and have hired additional, seasonal staff.