Pushing through the wine tour

Next up Chateau Chantel. Breathtaking view, traditional and sprawling estate. Love at first site. Now, wait one minute…

Cue the massive rain. Mother Nature saved the best for the best winery. Awesome.

Before all hell was unleashed we quickly snapped some shots and ran inside. Well Tara didn’t get to run in, she was kind enough to help another couple take a photo. She didn’t have a hoodie or headwear. We did but we preferred to watch her from underneath the Chateau’s entrance. Why soak two people when one is already being soaked?

Chateau Chantel is huge, but it is also extremely busy and it truly depends on who you get in order to feel like you had a wonderful experiences or just an “meh” one. Tara and Bobby experienced a sommelier who was amazing, insightful, paid attention when attention needed to be paid and he was charming. Ours was a flaky lady approaching retirement age who was distracted by a group of cougars who were just a bit louder and more um… “attention grabbing” than us. So every once in a while she’d remember us and toss us a wine sample. Eventually other sommeliers felt sorry for us and would help us through our flight. Somehow we cobbled our tour together sharing each others samples just to get through. Even in these sub par conditions we found a bottle aptly named “Twilight” to call our own.

watching the less fortunate.

I see Chateau’s charm and I know many people love it, I won’t give up on this place but next time I will not choose this lovely lady as our wine tour guide.

Four on our whirlwind tour of Old Mission Peninsula was Brys Estate.

This one is definitely more traditional in style. We were surrounded by vineyards, lavender, perfectly manicured shrubbery and a quaint little seating area. But also a line… we are now getting to the point in our tour that everyone and their drunk grandmother were out sampling the grape juice.

By now we were noticing the uptick of other wine tasting enthusiasts. Some faces from other locations were beginning to pop up. We all have one thought in mind, more, good wine – fast. We noticed the tall, bald-headed gentleman wearing a Smurf-colored button down. And the disheveled couple from Blackstar Farms. Yep still disheveled and it was now 3pm.

Brys Estate felt a bit pricier and a little more traditional than the others. We enjoyed our experience, but were ready to move out quickly. Plus lines make me antsy, I am an only child I am not used to waiting for anything!

Eventually wine tours get long and time gets short we start to pick up pace a little and venture to our next “pit stop” Chateau Grand Traverse.

If lines drive me nuts then this place would take the cake. They were well organized, but could have boasted the longest line. It is definitely a regular occurrence as they have a permanent blue painter’s tape guide on the floor to help us stand in line among their well-appointed shelves of wine necessities. That’s how they get you… with wine accessories. Tara was reached her threshold and wanted to leave I told her that gauging from my professional experience I’d say we’d be done close to 5pm.

We worked through the line and within 20 minutes were enjoying what were starting to become nameless samples. Among those we found a pleasant red table wine for my mom and another white. (we were starting quite a collection.)

Now we are at the final leg of our trip. We have about 40 minutes before all wineries close for the day, we better make it count. We better end on a good note. Peninsula Cellars.

I appreciate great marketing and integrating your environment into your product and vice versa. I am also a sucker for good marketing, Penninsula Cellars are housed in an 1895 one-room schoolhouse. I love it, I love it, I love it. You could hardly squeeze into this place and by now all that wine had warmed all of us. We worked through our flight appreciating “Homework,” “Detention,” “Old School White.” The names were carefully written on original blackboards surrounding our tasting room. This will definitely be a place I’d love to return to. Also, this was the place I tried the single smoothest Merlot I’ve ever had. But I digress and it was time to leave.


Two Lads and a Jolly Pumpking Later.

The next stop along our trip was 2 Lads.

Three words to describe 2 Lads. Swanky, stylish, modern. And amazing, but that would make it four words, so we’ll keep that one out. Two Lads hasn’t been around too long, only about three years. The first year they weren’t completely operational and only ran a few small batches. As luck would have it their winery became an overnight success and they ran out of their stock by mid season. But 2 Lads was smart. They stayed open for food tastings and to educate people about their product though they had nothing else to sell. And this cemented their foundation.

We tried three wines here while we enjoyed the rain-splattered landscape. Though Adam and I didn’t purchase wine, we made up for it with our swanky hat and t-shirt. We are such suckers for good marketing. Yay for souvenirs.

Before we got a little over zealous with our wine samples it was time to stop in at the Jolly Pumpkin for a little lunch and a little haunting. If you know me at all you know that I love, LOVE ghost stories and haunting. Oh don’t get me wrong, they scare the crap out of me, but that doesn’t matter they make my heart race and on more than one occasion I have mistakenly screamed bloody murder. So of course I was excited when Tara told me that Bower’s Harbor is haunted by a mischievous ghost named Genevive Stickney.

If you haven’t been to Bower’s Harbor Inn/ Jolly Pumpkin, please ADD IT TO YOU NEXT TRIP. The atmosphere is welcoming, the food is fantastic and the upstairs ladies bathroom is haunted.

Waiting for a third party visitor.

When we arrived we definitely were going to wait for a table. Within a few minutes Tara and I needed to “use the bathroom” so off we went with cameras in hand. Tara explained to me that pictures generally don’t turn out in the bathroom if Genevive is in a haunting mood. With hearts pounding we made our way to the restroom. First a waiting area and then the bathrooms themselves. So far so good. We quickly took some shots… sadly both turned out. I tried to snap a shot of the bathroom itself, no success. No orbs, no blue light, not lights flickering, no doors slamming and therefore no Caroline screaming. Slightly defeated we left this haunted area and after a quick trip to look at photos in the hallway we made it back to our waiting line.

I love when restaurants offers bread or some other tasty snack while we wait for our main meal. It practically makes me grin ear to ear. This time we tried homemade kettle fries dusted with cumin and other curry-like flavors. I would normally not order something like this (no idea why but Indian food is not my strong suite.) The chips were great and the sandwich was delish. We started to plot our next stop along the route. We only had a few more hours before our next stop. Are you kidding? Nope, we were “marathoning” through and had no time to waste.

Before we leave the Jolly Pumpkin and its rich history I’d like to mention one more thing…I’ve realized a few things with vacation Caroline. She is much less angry, much less vengeful, much more relaxed and oh, wait a minute, friendly? Could she be friendly? Yes, vacations make me happy, but so does shopping. So it wasn’t surprising that next thing you know I was grabbing a souvenir “Siren” t-shirt off their shelves. Even if Genevive decided not to scare me half to death, I was going to get my own momento. Speaking of which people at work think she is a Viking and some think she is a cowgirl. Ok fine, whatever. It’s a pretty sweet shirt.

Wine Tastings, Lighthouses, and Mother Nature.

Adam and I enjoy wine, we don’t know too much about it but we do buy it on a regular basis. If you are a wine enthusiast, hearing the words “wine tastings” is like telling a kid that he is going to Disney World. Oh happy day, we were going to the Old Mission Peninsula to explore the wineries.  I was a little intimidated with the thought of us “marathoning” through seven wineries. Would I need to be carried to the car by the end of the day?

Right at 10:30AM we were packed into the jeep and heading toward the peninsula. Our first stop:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with wine tastings the journey begins with dry, sparking wines, you work your way through dry whites, semi-sweets, and sweet whites like Riesling. Same goes for the reds, from dry to sweet. And you have the option of wrapping up the tasting with a dessert wine.

Our first stop was Blackstar Farms.

We stepped right up and began the wine exploration. We chose between 10 different types and have the option of selecting five – plus this one gave me a souvenir glass and let’s face it who doesn’t love a useful souvenir like this one. To wrap up Blackstar Farms. I chose a raspberry dessert wine and lucky me I received a mighty tasty truffle. I was the only one to choose it so everyone else watched with their mouths watering. Success!

On a side note, I love to people watch. And naturally we spotted an interesting couple who also came to Blackstar on that fateful day. Both looked “well-to-do” but as I like to call it, “disheveled,” no, “impressively, disheveled.” The gentleman was sporting a pronounced alfalfa. And the lady though, she was showing off what she had, did have a wardrobe malfunction and let’s just say one severely stretched button hole was keeping her from showing the entire tasting room her own goods. Tara felt the need to tell her that she needed to button up a bit more, and at this point I thought that was a great idea (what? I didn’t have to do it and I was still enjoying my samples.) so we debated for a bit and realized a few minutes later that she fixed the problem on her own – with or without outside assistance.

Tara is an expert wine taster. In other words no one will need to be carried off drunk to the car on her watch. So we decided to take a quick break and drive up to the tip of Old Mission Peninsula (the peninsula from start to finish is about 18 miles long. Plenty of time to sober up and enjoy the scenery.)

Let’s cue Mother Nature’s wrath at this point.

She and I have a love/ hate relationship. This year she treated our garden well and our tomato plants thrived (I’ll be posting about tall people growing tall tomatoes soon). But with all love come consequences. She unleashed a downpour while in TC. And on the last day-and-a-half gave us love with bright sun and calm winds. But I am getting ahead of myself.

We made our way up the peninsula, rain-soaked vineyards covered the landscape. So why are we heading to the tip to go to a lighthouse in this weather?… let’s hope it would clear up before we go there. But it didn’t. The rain and wind picked up and it made keeping our eyes open to enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty damn near impossible. We withstood the wind long enough to run in front of the lighthouse, pose for a picture while holding down our hats or hair and then run back to the car.

After this experience we realized we needed a warm up. And the only cure was another wine tasting.

Poppycock’s of Traverse City? Yes! Let’s Eat.

We ended up at the much-anticipated Poppycock’s, which Tara and Bobby both swore by this restaurant and said it would be worth it for our food-snob palettes to experience their fare. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was cozy and intimate, the waitress was… horrible. Time stands still with my stomach demands a feeding. We received our waters. Ten minutes went by, our waitress returned and asked if we would like other drinks. Why, yes, yes we did. This is the first time I experienced Good Harbor Late Harvest Riesling. Oh blessed elixir of the Gods! Yes, it was that good. We sat and chatted, we sat and became hungrier. My stomach became impatient. Tara was ready to walk up to any of the wait staff and ask for our food order to get placed. Our waitress was failing us quickly. Forty minutes escaped and still no waitress. She finally appeared back at our table and blurted out, “I just was yelled at.” “Oh sweetheart,” I thought, “I am about to chew you out too.” But then remembered that we might be rewarded with a tampering of our meals. So instead I smiled politely, “we’re ready to order.”

The wait was long, but they food lived up to my snobbish expectations. I requested the portabella stack. Three slices of portabella covered with creamy tomato sauce, feta cheese crumbles, kalmata olives and seasonal vegetables. I memorized the meal and intend of making it at home sometime. I retell my stories by the meals I enjoy and apparently by the weather we experience. It’s how I roll.

Anyway, back to the house.

Apparently we would need to go back to Poppycock’s as we forgot to buy our gift certificate. We are awesome.

Now, cue the misting and the high winds.

They boys wanted to build a fire, but it was too windy. Off we went to enjoy the flat screen with additional drinks. I love this place!


Arriving at the Cottage in Traverse City

Any road trip warrants a hardy meal along the way. Our pit stop was in Mannestee at Mancino’s. That food brings back so many memories, this being one of our favorite college hangouts. Though I couldn’t remember what I would normally order the flavor of the mayo, ham, bacon and crispy bread mixing with melting cheese, shredded lettuce and tomato really hit the spot. Delightful road trip meal, thank you Mancino’s.

We were now back on the road enjoying the sights of small towns along our route, and before we knew it we were seeing the bustling roads and stores of Traverse City. Exotic stores like Old Navy, Best Buy, Meijer and at the top of the hill Great Wolf Lodge. We could now begin the vacation.

Until we learned that the Tom Tom failed us ever so slightly.

Trying to find the house wasn’t so easy, apparently the address the Tom Tom found was a vacant lot. This would be a problem as we hasn’t brought any camping gear… so we kept driving along the road until Adam made a sudden and sharp turn. Ah yes, we had arrived at the proper spot and thankfully this one had a house on the property. We were off to a good start.

Our view of Grand Traverse Bay upon arrival.

The Bohannon’s summer cottage is actually a tastefully appointed 3-bedroom home with an exposed basement facing Grand Traverse Bay. This would be our home for the next four days and three nights. Oh happy day.

Believe it or not this was the first time I didn’t over plan something. Truly this is an amazing feat. I tend to plan down to the minute. It renders me exhausted but each day is packed full with fun things to do, even if it kills us. Not this time. Adam asked what we wanted to do (by now it was 3PM) and I said I had no idea. With two ice-cold drinks in hand we retreated to the upstairs balcony and plopped down on a couple of chairs to enjoy the sights of the bay. It was the perfect place to lose yourself in thought.

Cue the misting rain and wind.

I shut off my brain, enjoyed the view and ignored the weather.

Within five minutes I enjoyed the weather enough and wanted to get back inside. Let’s hope the rest of our vacation won’t be drenched in mist and hit by strong winds.

We chose to head to the quaint downtown area where we could pop in and out of stores and warm back up. With two hot lattes in hand we started strolling, buttoning up coats and pulling hoodies over our heads as we walked down the street.  Found myself starting to relax, finding lots of cute “must-haves”. Let just say I am happiest when I find a good deal and therefore finding me shopping is finding me at my happiest. See how that works.

Adam enjoying the thoughts of his "nothing" box.

After we finished exploring the town we had made plans to meet up with Tara and Bobby ay Poppycocks. Somehow it was 7:30PM. Vacation time always seems to fly faster than work time, cleaning-the-house time, running-errands time, and poop-scooping time.

Our Adverntures in Traverse City

In the morning we set off on our road trip… eventually

As we grow older I realize that getting ready to leave for a vacation is not the start of our much needed rest and relaxation. It’s the start of frustration, stress, anger, annoyance and disappointment. Which is my usual demeanor and therefore we were not off to a good start.  Naturally, while we were getting ready for our Traverse City vacation we were running out of time with an ever-expanding list of to-do and forget-me-nots. I now understand why my parents rarely looked relaxed and ready to enjoy time together. We were ready for a time out in opposite corners of the house.

Adam filled our car to the roof with essentials… some of which were being dropped off with our dog in Muskegon with my in-laws. Afterward I would be able to straighten out my legs which for the time being had to be firmly folded against my seat, sigh want…. An… Element. Thank God they were willing to take her for 4 days and 3 blissful nights. We packed her crate, food, toys, treats, our luggage, snacks (snack packs as I named them.), books, and magazines (I always have lofty ideas that I will catch up on my relaxing literature when vacationing). We packed more clothing than necessary because we would experience transitional weather so you back light and you also pack warm. From our CIVIC you would swear we were leaving for a two-week tour somewhere. But we Ramseyers were headed to Traverse City for 4 days and 3 nights. Seriously, how do people travel with kids? Or right, by mini van.

Our goal was to drop off Maya by 10AM so we could be on the road and in Traverse as early as possible.  So by 9:20AM we were supposed to be packed and pulling out of our driveway. Except that we weren’t. Eventually we packed ourselves in and shoved Maya into the remaining empty space on the back seat at 9:40AM. Within 10 minutes she gave up on actually enjoying the trip and curled herself up into a cream-colored donut.

And cue the rainstorm.

We arrived in Muskegon with only 20-minute delay (not bad by my severely late standards.) Quick instructions and many “thank yous” later we were down to two. Admo and C-line were headed to Traverse City.

And cue the strong winds with rainstorms. Awesome.