Verterra Winery is expanding. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Leelanau Peninsula winery is opening a second tasting room, The Ridge at Verterra Vineyards.
At an elevation of 994 feet, The Ridge is located in the Village of Leland on the narrowest part of the Leelanau Peninsula, with views of Grand Traverse Bay to the east and Lake Michigan to the west. Verterra is the only winery in Michigan to have views of both large bodies of water.
The site has been used for weddings for the past four years, but is slated to open for wine tastings and tours in June.
“This year, to some extent due to the pressures of the pandemic with the necessity of everybody wanting to be less congested and outside, we really decided to make this site available for people to do tastings,” says Verterra owner Paul Hamelin.
Verterra has also expanded its flower gardens, pond/babbling brook and vineyards, which now stretch across 50 acres. To allow for three seasons of tasting, Verterra has a semi-permanent tent, as well as a converted warehouse for wine and retail shopping.
While the original Leland tasting room will still offer traditional tastings where guests can choose up to five wines to try, the Ridge will present wine flights and wines by the glass, along with finger foods for groups to enjoy.
“It’s encouraging people to relax a little bit more and maybe not feel as compelled to race to the next winery to do tastings, but to come and bring their friends,” Hamelin says. “It’s just a little different focus.
“Typically in Leland, you may be there for half an hour, 35 minutes or so, but at the Ridge you may be here for an hour or longer at times.”
Guests can explore Verterra’s sparkling wines, sweeter whites, dry rosés, table reds, dry reds, hard ciders and dry white, for which Verterra has won best dry white wine honors in the Michigan Wine Competition three years running from 2017 to 2019. Verterra’s rosés are also trophy-takers, garnering best dry rosé in the state competition twice.
The Ridge will also host wine club events and a dinner series with wine and food pairings by a former chef from the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit.
Fundraisers are also planned at the site. One will be for the Leelanau Conservancy, which is committed to preserving the landscapes of the Leelanau Peninsula. Another will support Fishtown Preservation, dedicated to protecting the historic Fishtown site in Leland.
The new expansion comes as Verterra observes its tenth anniversary. While it actually was established in 2006 solely to grow grapes, Verterra moved to begin selling wines in 2011. Today, Verterra owns three different vineyards.
“We take a great deal of pride in growing the fruit ourselves and then making the wines out of it,” Hamelin says. “We’ve won numerous gold medals and Best of Class wines through the years, so we’re really focused on being one of the highest-quality wineries that we can in the state of Michigan.”